A million fans for Australian science

Australian science has just gained its millionth fan on worldwide internet phenomenon Facebook, the Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb announced at the Australian Science Communicators National Conference in Sydney today.

“The milestone makes Australian website ScienceAlert.com.au the world’s #1 provider of science news on Facebook,” managing director Chris Cassella said.

“We’re also now the world’s 9th largest general media news outlet on Facebook, with more followers than The Economist, the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, the Guardian, and all the Australian news media outlets combined,” he added.

“We understand that we are competing for peoples’ attention on the internet, so while science topics can be complex, we have adapted and are now delivering science where people want it, when and how they want it — on the Internet, and in Facebook.”

ScienceAlert founder Julian Cribb adds, “We founded ScienceAlert to share great Australian scientific achievements with a local and global audience at a time when the news was absolutely dominated by US and European science.

“We had no inkling there would be such international interest in Australian science or that it could grow so quickly.”

The ScienceAlert website attracts 100,000+ visitors a month, but more than a million people now keep in touch with science daily via its Facebook site and through their friends. Between them, ScienceAlert’s million Facebook fans have around 130,000,000 personal contacts, with whom they share their interests and activities.

This audience, currently growing by a third of a million a day, and is now within reach of Australian science.

“For the sake of the Australian scientists in our universities, CSIRO, CRCs and scientific centres we are delighted their work is now achieving a much larger global audience,” Mr Cribb said.

“Let’s hope it brings further global recognition of its quality, as well as attracting the brightest researchers and students to Australia.”

Mr Casella said that Facebook users were predominantly aged under 30, and were the fastest growing segment on the internet today, both in Australia and worldwide.

“Since the advent of smart phones many young people go on Facebook before they even get out of bed in the morning,” he says.

“Our followers are young, they are keen on science – and they are engaged, as you can see from their comments, likes and sharing activity.

“We are inspiring science enthusiasts worldwide by making Australian science as fun to follow as a friend.

We think this could be the beginning of a new era in science’s engagement with society.”

ScienceAlert achieved half a million Facebook fans in September 2011, and has since doubled its global outreach in barely 5 months, expanding its news and feature content with images and video from across science.

http://www.famecount.com/node/247314 It is ranked 16th among Australian sites on Facebook, ahead of the tennis, cricket, rugby league and soccer and has more followers than other Australian media or popular TV shows.

“We are currently exploring ways to further grow our audience reach in other languages such as Chinese, Spanish and French.

This will give Australian science unprecedented global exposure – and we hope will lead to more people coming from overseas to study and work in research in Australian universities and companies.

“Above all, we’d like to thank all our fans in Australia and worldwide for making this happen – and express our particular thanks to those Australian universities, science agencies and technology companies who had the entrepreneurial vision to support this venture,” Mr Cassella said.

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About Susan Kirk

Susan Kirk is a freelance science journalist, with a degree in journalism and qualifications in horticulture. She has written for many different publications but lately writes extensively for Fairfax media. She wrote a number of the Taste booklets (Global Food and Wine) which showcased Australian produce and producers and even did a stint as a restaurant critique. She loves growing, cooking and consuming food so over the years the interest in ornamental plants turned into an interest in food plants, especially herbs. She is a member of the Media Alliance, and is a member of and the Queensland web editor for the Australian Science Communicators.