Measuring Success: Evaluating Paleontology on Instagram
Geological Society of America
The Information Age has allowed an unprecedented ability to communicate with users along the spectrum of scientific expertise. The FOSSIL Project, an NSF-funded initiative based out of the Florida Museum of Natural History, seeks to engage users across this continuum of expertise in open, collaborative scientific inquiry related to the collection, preparation, and study of fossils. The FOSSIL Project has created a social paleontology community using multiple social media platforms, including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and the myFOSSIL website, creating an estimated audience of over 7,000 users. The most recent addition to the network of FOSSIL Project social media platforms was Instagram in October 2017. Instagram has provided a new opportunity to engage with over 1,000 followers with the use of Instagram Stories. Instagram Stories are an under-studied facet of Instagram that can be implemented to share and discuss information in an interactive and novel way; however, a method of determining story efficacy has not previously been developed. This study defines metrics for educational Instagram Stories while exploring methods we found to be successful at conveying paleontological knowledge. We experimented with varying story length and interaction tools to determine how to best measure the success of our stories. We found that we could estimate how well we retained viewership by calculating the retention rate of users from the first slide to the last slide. Additionally, interaction tools, such as the poll sticker, provide insight into how engaged our users were with our content. As more paleontological educators implement social media as a form of communication, these evaluation tools will provide an important insight into the success of their Instagram Stories.
Ocon, S. B., Hughes, M. J., Mills, S. M., Bauer, J. E., Crippen, K. J., Lundgren, L., Bex, R. T., II, & MacFadden, B. J. (2019, March) Measuring success: Evaluating paleontology on Instagram, Annual Meeting, Southeastern Section, Geological Society of America, Charleston, SC