How can we use TikTok to communicate our work?

With the modern natural environment in a state of constant change, understanding ecology has never been more necessary for everyday people. But for a science that can reach levels of incredible complexity relatively quickly, communicating this field of study to the layperson can be a challenge, especially over social media. This is where TikTok comes in.

Jack Walker surrounded by leaves, looking at a shrub. He shares tips for posting on TikTok
Jack Walker shares tips for ecologists posting on TikTok.

Scroll down to watch the TikTok version of this article!

Three top TikTok tips for ecologists:

Understanding your audience

Gauging the level of understanding your audience innately has is essential to creating engaging content. Whenever a word seems big, a concept slightly too convoluted, or a case study too unique, don’t be afraid to get simple with your explanations.

Work with the algorithm

The Tiktok algorithm can be very picky with what it likes to promote. Sometimes it seems random, but there are a few key decisions that can increase engagement with your content:

Avoid ‘violent’ terminology. Words like ‘death’ are quite common in sciences like ecology, but constant usage of such words risks your content being suppressed by the algorithm. Look for alternatives!

Build off similar successful creators – there are many successful STEM accounts on Tiktok, especially in the biological sciences. ‘Duetting’ or ‘stitching’ their videos to add your own insight into an interesting ecological topic is always a great way to put your knowledge out there.

Creativity is key

Be on the lookout for what type of video or sound is trending and keep this in mind when creating content. Mirroring your content with viral trends is a great tactic of getting more views quickly.

Don’t be afraid to take inspiration from the world around you. See an interesting animal or interaction when you’re out and about? Does a museum piece help convey an interesting ecological fact? Pull out your phone and start filming! People relate well to what they can easily see in their day-to-day life and outings.

This article, written by Jack Walker (@dinosaurlimbs), first appeared in the ‘Light Bites’ section of The Niche, Summer 2023. The Niche is the British Ecological Society’s quarterly membership magazine. If you’re not a member but would like to subscribe to The Niche, join us today.