109 Ways for Enthusiastic Scientists to Engage with the General Public

Background featuring the mathematical symbol e

Susan Silver

I’m the writer with a mathematical muse. I love words, numbers, dreaming big & helping others. I believe that whatever you imagine, you can become. They/Them.

email: Susan@beautyofmathematics.com

Enthusiastic Scientists are embracing community building. I feel this as someone searching for their place. My love of mathematics come from a place full of hardships. That makes me want to communicate and connect with others about my experiences.

ScienceTalk’s annual conference will focus on community as its primary theme. I may not have a degree, but I know quite a bit about community building. I also have expertise in SEO, social media management, and writing.

By using the following resources, you will be able to communicate better with the public through blogging and social media.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

So, why should an enthusiastic scientist care about SEO (Search Engine Optimization)? In some ways, the traditional idea of how to rank in Google is outdated. We’ve moved beyond keywords to natural language. However, I think much of the basic advice is still valid.

Write for your audience. Use the language they use. Good keyword research will help you do just that so your writing attracts the right readers.

  1. The Beginner’s Guide to SEO
  2. A Guide From Link Building to Link Earning
  3. The Advanced Guide to SEO
  4. Blog SEO: How to Search Engine Optimize Your Blog Content
  5. 10 tips for an awesome and SEO-friendly blog post
  6. The Seven Commandments of Internal Linking that Will Improve Content Marketing SEO
  7. 3 Internal Linking Strategies for SEO and Conversions

Blogs to Read

  1. Yoast
  2. Moz
  3. Search Engine Watch
  4. Search Engine Journal

Email (Or What to Write)

I wanted to share these resources because they might come in handy in two ways.

  1. You may want to start a science newsletter or use a newsletter for your blog subscriptions.
  2. You may want to increase your network or perform some sort of outreach in relationship to your community or blog.

The resources below will help you craft emails that people will open.

  1. How to Make Sure Your Emails Give the Right Impression
  2. 10 Types of Email Subject Lines That Always Produce Clicks

Content Strategy (or How to Plan)

Don’t get scared about the use of the phrase content marketing. It is just a way to think about the content you are creating. Giving it purpose and organization. It can also serve you in your community building. Like accepting user generated content or informing members of your organization’s activities.

  1. The ‘Less Is More’ Content Strategy
  2. How to Develop a Killer Content Strategy for a Startup with No Budget
  3. Mobile & desktop SEO: Different results, different content strategies
  4. Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing
  5. The Advanced Guide to Content Marketing
  6. Using cornerstone content to make your site rank

Tools 

  1. Buzzsumo – Research tool
  2. Co-Schedule – Editorial Calendar
  3. Google Alerts
  4. Google Trends

Blogs to Read

  1. Content Marketing Institute
  2. Hubspot

Community Strategy (or How to Create a Movement)

Oh yeah, community management. This is one of my favorite subjects. You have to realize that good community also requires good communication. An enthusiastic scientist may express a passion that can start a movement. The resources below would help any science community manager in their role by providing structure and feedback on what strategies work.

  1. The CMX Community Strategy Canvas – A Simple Planning Tool for Community Professionals
  2. The SPACE Model: The Framework for Defining Your Community’s Business Value
  3. The Key Metrics to Prove Your Online Community ROI
  4. Measure the Growth, Activity, and Experience of Your Community (Correctly) with These 4 Metrics
  5. The Simple 2-Step Model for Measuring Community

Organizations

  1. Center for Scientific Collaboration and Community Engagement
  2. CMX Facebook Group

Blogs to Read

  1. CMX
  2. FeverBee
  3. Community Roundtable
  4. Leader Networks

 People to Follow 

  1. Carrie Melissa Jones
  2. Tim McDonald

Writing (or How to String Words Together)

I am always trying to improve as a writer. Storytelling is key for science communications. We can craft stories that are based on scientific fact but also move us emotionally.

  1. Motivation-Reaction Units: Cracking the Code of Good Writing
  2. How Long Should The Perfect List Post Really Be?
  3. The Top 10 Qualities of High-Quality List Posts
  4. 15 Storytelling Techniques for Amazing Brand Story
  5. An Interesting Anecdote Could Be the Antidote for Your Ailing Blog Post
  6. How to Tell a Great Story
  7. How Long Should Each Blog Post Be? A Data Driven Answer
  8. The Formula for a Perfect Headline
  9. What We Learned Analyzing 1 Million Blog Headlines

Tools

  1. Heming Way app – This app takes your content, points out grammar mistakes, and tells you the reading level of your writing. It can help you catch errors.
  2. Ginger -Grammar checker.
  3. Grammarly – Also a grammar checker.
  4. Novelize A tool for organizing novels, but I think it works for blogs too.
  5. Noisli – A combo of distraction-free writing and white noise.
  6. Gingko AppI love this tool for outlining notes and ideas. It is rather unique, and I think you will totally dig it the way I do.

Blogs to Read

  1. Problogger
  2. Electric Speed Newsletter
  3. Copyhackers
  4. Copyblogger
  5. Grammar Girl
  6. Writer’s Digest

Images (or How to Break Up Text)

The web is primarily a visual medium. Illustrate your enthusiasm  by adding videos or images to your blog posts will really help to sell them to the general public. There are many great resources and tools out there, many which are free to use. There is also some SEO involved if you want your images to be found in searches.

  1. Best practices for attribution
  2. The Ultimate Guide for Web Images and SEO
  3. Image Optimization: How to Rank on Image Search

Free images

  1. Unsplash – Royalty free images
  2. Death to Stock – High quality stock photos
  3. Getty Images – Some images are available to embed in your blogs!
  4. Creative Commons Search – Make sure you check the license and give proper attribution.

Tools

Online Image editors

  1. Picmonkey
  2. Canava
  3. Pixlr

Social Media Management (or How to Promote)

I know that community isn’t built on social media; however, It is a great tool to connect with others and get your message out there. You will meet over fantastic and enthusiastic scientists this way. by networking and distributing your content. The following tools will help you do that in a more automated way, so it doesn’t take up your time and you can focus on your members.

Tools

  1. Hootsuite – I use this to monitor hashtags on Twitter so I can join conversations or RT interesting science related content. It also will schedule your Tweets.
  2. Buffer  – A great way to automate your social media messages. If you pay it will give you all your statistics.
  3. Audisense – This tool is specific to Twitter. I mostly use it to follow new people and figure out the time when most people are interacting with my content.
  4. Sprout Social – This is another tool that does automation and statistics.
  5. SumAll – This tool is used for statistical tracking on social media and it is currently free.
  6. Mention – Like a supercharged version of Google Alerts. I love it as a community manager. Great tool.

Blogs to Read

  1. Buffer Blog
  2. Social Media Examiner

Networking (or How to Make Friends)

In all honesty, I am terrible at following up with people. I love Nimble for this reason, and it is only $15 a month. It creates a database of all your contacts and pulls in info from their social channels and your email. You can set daily, weekly, monthly reminders to follow up with your network.

  1. Nimble App

Design (or How to Make Things Usable)

Since I’m broke, I’ve always had to do my own blog design from scratch. If you are a science writer working solo, then you might want to go this route too. Designing a nice looking blog helps give you more authority and helps people access the information they need without struggling.

Blogs to Read

  1. Design your own blog
  2. Sitepoint
  3. Smashing Magazine
  4. Sidebar Newsletter
  5. Or just hire someone to do it. – Highly recommend Chandra Reyer, who helped me pick out a color scheme. She also completed some backgrounds and graphics for my blog and social media

WordPress ( or How to Maintain your Home)

WordPress, without question, continues to be the #1 writing platform for blogs. Most people aren’t informed about security issues and other cons of using the platform. That is why I’ve provided a list of the plugins I use on every single install.

WordPress security is one of my hobbies. In fact, this website uses WordPress as it’s platform and runs on a VPS that I setup myself, just so I could have complete control of my server.

It’s good to keep up with the latest WordPress news.

Blogs to Read

  1. WPBeginner
  2. WPExplorer
  3. WPLift
  4. Torquemag.io
  5. WP Tavern
  6. Elegant Themes

WordPress Plugins 

  1. Anti-spam
  2. Antispam Bee
  3. Autoptimize
  4. Better Internal Link Search – This is a great plugin. It helps you link not only to your published posts, but you can also link your scheduled ones.
  5. Block Bad Queries (BBQ)
  6. Broken Link Checker
  7. EWWW Image Optimizer
  8. iThemes Security
  9. Limit Login Attempts Reloaded
  10. UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore
  11. Use Google Libraries
  12. WP-Sweep
  13. Yoast SEO
  14. Iubenda – This one helps with GDPR compliance. It will generate a privacy policy for you automatically that you can embed on your blog.

Productivity ( or How to Automate your Routine)

I try to automate as many tasks as I can. Both If This Than That and Zapier can help you create a workflow. I prefer Zapier because it has more variety and with a pad account you can perform more actions.

I just setup my first Bullet Journal. It’s a way of quickly jotting down events and future plans. I like that’s it is simple. I think it’s better than a To Do app for me. So I recommend you try it out. You can get all the info about it for free from the website.

  1. IFTTT
  2. Zapier
  3. Bullet Journal

Self Care ( or How to Love Yourself)

Don’t let your passion burn out. Part of being an enthusiastic scientist is taking care of yourself. I’ve become very familiar with the resources presented here. Make sure that you take some time for you.

  1. 7 Cups of Tea
  2. Better Help
  3. Calm App

There are many Pathways for Enthusiastic Scientists to Connect Online

Enthusiastic scientists looking to build a community have many options. Parts of this post will be adapted by teams whose members work on different functions. Or, maybe you will dig this post because you are flying solo and need a way to manage the workload between writing, publication, and promotion. I hope that this post has you feeling better prepared to bridge connection with others and comfortably discuss the always-fascinating topic of science.

Do you have any tips or resources to share around science communication?

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