Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2022-494
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2022-494
 
22 Jun 2022
22 Jun 2022

Exploring TikTok as an effective platform for geoscience communication

Emily E. Zawacki1, Wendy Bohon2, Scott Johnson3, and Donna J. Charlevoix3 Emily E. Zawacki et al.
  • 1School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, 85287, USA
  • 2Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, Washington, D.C., 20005, USA
  • 3UNAVCO, Boulder, CO, 80301, USA

Abstract. With TikTok emerging as one of the most popular social media platforms, there is significant potential for science communicators to capitalize on this success and share their science with a broad, engaged audience. While videos of chemistry and physics experiments are prominent among educational science content on TikTok, videos related to the geosciences are comparatively lacking, as is an analysis of what types of geoscience videos perform well on TikTok. To increase the visibility of the geosciences and geophysics on TikTok and to determine best strategies for effective geoscience communication on the app, we created a TikTok account called “Terra Explore” (@TerraExplore). The Terra Explore account is a joint effort between science communication specialists at UNAVCO, IRIS, and OpenTopography. We produced 48 educational geoscience videos over a four-month period between October 2021 and February 2022. We evaluated the performance of each video based on its reach, engagement, and viewer retention to determine the qualities of a successful video. Our video topics primarily focused on seismology, earthquakes, topography, lidar (light detection and ranging), and GPS (Global Positioning System), in alignment with our organizational missions. Over this time period, our videos garnered over 2 million total views, and our account gained over 12,000 followers. The videos that received the most views received nearly all (~97 %) of their views from the For You page, TikTok’s algorithmic recommendation feed. We found that short videos (< 20 s) had a high viewer retention rate, but they often had a low engagement rate, leading to less overall visibility. Lecture-style videos that were between 40 seconds and two minutes in length had more success in both reach and engagement. Our videos that went the most viral featured content that was related to a recent newsworthy event (e.g., an earthquake) or explaining place-based geology of a recognizable area. Our results highlight the algorithm-driven nature of TikTok, which results in a low barrier to entry and success for new science communication creators.

Emily E. Zawacki et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-494', Anonymous Referee #1, 06 Jul 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Emily Zawacki, 27 Jul 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-494', Anonymous Referee #2, 03 Aug 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Emily Zawacki, 26 Aug 2022

Emily E. Zawacki et al.

Emily E. Zawacki et al.

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Latest update: 28 Sep 2022
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Short summary
To determine best strategies for geoscience communication on TikTok, we created a TikTok account called “Terra Explore.” We produced 48 educational geoscience videos and evaluated each video’s performance. Our most viewed videos received nearly all of their views from TikTok’s algorithmic recommendation feed, and the videos that went the most viral were related to a recent newsworthy event (e.g., earthquake) or explaining the geology of a recognizable area.