Science popularisation on TikTok :
our tips to get started
With more than 1.7 billion users in the world, TikTok is one of the fastest growing social media platforms. Initially known for its funny videos and viral dance routines, TikTok now hosts a growing community of Science enthusiasts.
TikTok is a golden opportunity for science popularisation: scientists can promote their knowledge in a simple yet attractive video format. But to reach this objective and effectively share content on this platform, one needs to understand the inner workings of this social media. We reveal our tips and tricks to successfully create popular science content on TikTok!
TikTok and sciences: win over young audiences
TikTok provides the opportunity to reach a wide audience, especially young people aged 15 to 24 years old. This social network is even the preferred search engine of this age group. As videos become viral more quickly on TikTok than on other social networks, shared content can quickly reach a large number of people. It is therefore a major media to draw the attention of young people, raise their interest in science and inspire vocations.
Short videos to engage your audience
TikTok is an onomatopoeia for the sound of clocks as seconds go by. As its name suggests, TikTok hosts short videos which generally do not exceed one minute. Several video formats are available, such as « live streaming », which allows authors to answer comments by writing or posting. Thanks to its features, communication on TikTok is both interactive and dynamic. It comes as no surprise that TikTok has millions of users across over 150 countries!
Science popularisation: the best type of contents
Using TikTok is easy! No need to be a professional editor with sophisticated hardware. The app offers a free video editing tool for Iphones and Android. But you still need to choose the most appropriate type of content for TikTok.
A well-known technique for science popularisation consists in being concrete. Show experiments with visually attractive results. Give simple and short explanations. This content appeals equally to followers and curious passersby.
Share the latest scientific news in your field: stories, important discoveries, awards, etc. Promoting the news of your laboratory is also a great way to share your research.
Moreover, your TikTok videos can be used to give advice to your community. A video which explains how to use a telescope or a pH meter is much more attractive than a user’s guide. Your content can be adapted for different types of audiences, from middle school students to researchers, using science popularisation techniques.
Examples of successful TikTok accounts
Though it is still little used by researchers or higher education institutions, TikTok has quite a few popularisers who draw attention to scientific topics. Taking inspiration from their communication strategy and their content is a good way to prepare your own action plan.
The reasons behind their success? Short and entertaining videos which make Science fascinating and easy to understand for everyone. Some are specialized in a given theme while others cover a variety of topics: medicine, physics, space, biology and more.
The nittygrittyscience account by Dr. Erica Colon is very didactic and covers many different topics related to physics.
The account chemteacherphil, by chemistry professor Phillip Cook, is a hit with nearly 4 million followers. His demonstrative videos present fun and sensational chemistry experiments.
We would also like to mention Samantha Cristoforetti, the European Space Agency astronaut. With her TikTok account astrosamantha, she shares her life on board the International Space Station with immersive videos.
One should move with the times. Even beloved American stars of science popularisation « Bill Nye the Science Guy » and Neil deGrasse Tyson have made the move to TikTok. Thanks to their reputation they already have millions of followers on TikTok and they can continue making science outreach videos for younger generations.
Tips to develop your community
Just like the « Booktok » community for literature lovers, or « Foodietok » for gourmets, the new flux «STEM » gathers videos on scientific and technological topics. It is an excellent way to find English users who make popular science videos.
Furthermore, interacting with members who have a lot of followers will help you to gain more visibility on TikTok. You can leave comments on their videos, but also create Duet or Stitch videos. The Duet feature allows users to post their own video side-by-side with that of another creator. Meanwhile, the Stitch feature makes it possible to select a video sample from another account to record a new video in response to the initial video clip.
All these features are an excellent way to grow your own community of followers on TikTok. You can get creative! Take advantage of this technology, post regularly, and most of all, have fun! It’s contagious.
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