In April, our lepidopterist Andy Warren named a new species of butterfly after Emily Graslie for her tremendous work in the field of science communication. It was hands-down one of the biggest events for the Florida Museum in years in terms of exposure and interaction on social media.
A paper was published, we published a story in Science, and press releases went out. It was picked up by other science news sites, and then by other bigger news organizations. But the biggest deal was the tweets on Twitter, and the live YouTube broadcast conversation between Emily and Andy where they talked about the butterfly, discovery, museum collections, and how species are discovered.
Emily has over 80,000 followers on Twitter, and Twitter is saturated with scientists, students, and the fans of all things science. So it’s easy to communicate to an interested audience, and also interact with them in a meaningful way.
Because of the way the Graslieae butterfly news was shared, breaking after office hours and on social media, around 75% of the visits to our article came from social media sources. For most of our website, the vast majority of our visitor traffic comes through Google searches.
This showed how powerful social media can be when used well, and used as an interaction tool rather than a broadcast tool.
On a personal note, it was exciting to be a part of the event. I got to be part of our test run of the Google Hangout in the butterfly collection, and helped set up and break down for the actual live broadcast. I even got to interact with Emily, hopefully wowing her and her team with witty conversation like “Yes, the Florida museum has a YouTube channel” and “Can you hear our air handler on your end?”
Hopefully we’ll have more great events like this in future. But for the moment, I’m happy to pull up a few Museum laurels to rest on.
Side note because it’s still irritating me. In one of the news stories about this, Emily Graslie was referred to as a famous YouTuber. Which is far better than one article that failed to mention her at all. But if Emily Graslie can be defined as a YouTuber, then the planet earth can also be called an asteroid. Not actually the same thing at all.