Researchers at the University of Toronto’s Cognitive Media Design Institute (KDMI) concluded that scientists increasingly need TikTok to make their findings available to a wider public. For their new studies, the experts examined user behavior, data protection issues, and the technical and visual aspects of academic content on TikTok.
Take the guys with you
“Scientific, accessible and understandable communication on TikTok is a very good strategy for the research field to address otherwise difficult-to-reach target groups. However, it should be noted that 80 to 90 percent of content on TikTok is entertainment,” said digital communication expert Julian Pansy. In an interview with a press release: “So it’s not about praying for complex research results and more about sparking interest among young people.”
The videos on TikTok are usually not produced professionally, but in an amateur way and give viewers a look behind the scenes. Almost all users under the age of 30 place less importance on lighting, camera quality or appearance compared to other platforms. “This makes TikTok an exciting place to enable new and more widely accessible forms of learning outside of the classroom, lecture halls and textbooks,” says study author JP King.
Short, crisp, humorous
According to the researchers, TikTok is unique in its way of boosting user engagement, for example in the form of remixes or response videos. However, this goes hand in hand with a different understanding of intellectual property, which researchers need to know. “The accuracy of data protection, as we know it from science, is of course not possible on TikTok. It is important here for research institutions to assess the importance of reaching new target groups and making compromises,” Pence continues.
The researchers say that the shorter and more humorous and interactive the videos, the better. However, scientists must also be aware of the broad scope of the videos and the consequences associated with them, for example, if they do not align with the institutional values of their research institution.
However, science communication on TikTok is by and large a huge asset, according to the study, because it connects people from a variety of educational backgrounds, engages them and makes them think. Pansy: “Overall, social media is becoming more and more important in many areas. Whether it’s ResearchGate in science or LinkedIn to reach targeted professional groups. TikTok is still a new area for many universities, which is why so few stand out and take advantage of it.” (bte/tem)
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