A new study has shown factors influencing which conservation news get shared or liked in social media.
Public awareness is often a crucial first step towards policy change and resolution of conservation issues because societal values determine whether initiatives gain support. There is evidence that public engagement positively influences civic participation. Therefore, conservation science needs to engage the general public to ensure successful conservation interventions.
News coverage of conservation issues is an important pathway to transfer information to large audiences because it can translate academic research and policy for general audiences.
A team of researchers led by the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Faculty of Science recently concluded a study to better understand the factors influencing the spread of conservation news in online media.
The research team discovered that news sites have the greatest impact on how popular an online article will be on Facebook and Twitter and found that online news articles about climate change or charismatic mammals and those with illustrations were more likely to be shared or liked on Facebook and Twitter.
Their findings also revealed that five per cent of articles in conservation journals are reported in online news with the probability of reporting largely depending on the journal as opposed to the topic of the article.
Explaining the importance of understanding the spread of online news, Le Nghiem, one of the lead authors, said that to ensure successful conservation interventions, there is a need to engage the general public.
Nghiem added that although online technologies such as Twitter and Facebook offer new opportunities to accelerate communication between conservation scientists and the online public, factors influencing the spread of conservation news in online media are not well understood. This study aims to fill this knowledge gap.
Conservation scientists could use these new findings to choose appropriate online media channels to communicate with the public and increase the awareness and effectiveness of their efforts, added David Bickford, one of the co-authors of the paper.
The results are published in Conservation Biology.