|dc.description.abstract||Citizens are increasingly being asked to participate in decision-making processes, and with the internet now a primary source of information, it is critical that policy-relevant research is communicated effectively online to equip lay people with the information they require to participate in decisions. Social media have the potential to facilitate two-way conversations needed for strong science communication; however, research communicators often struggle to reach lay audiences on these media. In this research project, the Twitter and Instagram activity of four individual science communicators in North America and Europe is compared with the activity of three marine-focused non-governmental organizations (NGOs) (local, national, and international), paying particular attention to strategies that encourage audience engagement in two-way conversations. The study includes: 1) an analysis of public Twitter and Instagram data of each of the seven communicators to identify the social media strategies that are used and the resulting engagement in two-way conversations; 2) interviews with the individual and NGO communicators to determine their social media strategies; 3) a survey of audience members involved in two-way conversations to determine why they choose to participate in dialogues on social media, and 4) an audience “biography” analysis to determine whether communicators are engaging a non-scientific audience. The results of this study show that communication strategies have an important effect on social media engagement. More specifically, the evidence shows that a combination of interpersonal communication strategies, and how they are integrated throughout the social media activity of communicators via platform affordances, especially in Instagram, can have an important effect on the level of lay user engagement in two-way conversations over time. Further application of the interpersonal communication strategies could promote greater public engagement with science, including involvement with critical marine management issues that exist at the science-policy interface.
Keywords: science communication; dialogic communication; digital media; social media; Instagram; Twitter; organizational communication; interpersonal communication||en_US