I got the official notification of my time in the Social Media Symposium for the Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting. The official symposium:

Speak Out – Interaction and Education in a Brave New World of Social Media and Online Resources
Tuesday, November 15, 2011: 1:30 PM-5:45 PM

A lot of the symposium will focus on Extension, but there will also be some familiar names. Now that I’ve seen the lineup, I’m feeling a bit like “one of these things is not like the others.”

I’m the last person to talk, right after Eric Eaton. And honestly, I love Eric, but we could not be less alike.  The strongest language I think I’ve ever heard him use is “darn!”  (He may also have said “Blast!” once as well. But I don’t like to spread rumors.)

So, I am thinking of talking mostly about how to measure your impact, both with various social media metrics and intangibly. I hope to hit the one million mark on this blog before November, and that doesn’t even count the people who read my posts at Skepchick.   I also was thinking of talking about building a brand, or maybe the tradeoff between anonymity and a real name.

I have exactly 10 minutes to talk, so I can really only cover one topic. What do YOU want to hear about?

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. I’ll bite on this one. I think making insects more accessible to the general public would be a good direction to take this. You do a lot of that on this blog, as do some of the other bug bloggers. The general public is quite curious about insects and I think talking in terms a layman can understand and interact with is important. I’m a total amateur in the entomology world but even I find that by describing insects in ways the public can understand they actually learn. One of the reasons I am attracted in insect macro photography is a curiosity about the insect. I find researching the insect as much fun as stalking them down and taking their portraits.


  2. Oh! Another topic–is the blog dead? http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/mimssbits/26986/
    Basically, with other social media/sharing tools, is the long form blog post going the way of newspapers?

    And how do you communicate sophisticated concepts with less than 300 words?

  3. The topic of “Is the blog dead?” is a good one, but I’d like to suggest a particular tack: what is the strength of a blog relative to twitter or google+?

    I think a key point is that a route to successful blogging is to not treat blog posts as ephemera. Writing posts that will be useful and interesting in the long term, and give the sort of information that people doing on-line searches are likely to actually want to see, is a niche that the more “social” media don’t deal with at all well.

    Case in point: I’m trying to go more on the “reference guide” path, and anywhere from two-thirds to three-quarters of my blog traffic is search engine hits on pages that may be several years old. People want this information, but they get it by googling rather than browsing through their favorite blogs. For that matter, I notice that you have particular posts that continually appear on your “top posts” list that are this sort of thing – like the “how to inspect your hotel room for bedbugs”, for example.

  4. I have to mostly agree with Tim Eisele on the topic of “Is the blog dead” I think the blog as purely social media is dying, but I think the blog as deeper content or reference material will continue to grow and flourish.I don’t think blogs will go totally to reference though, good writers will continue to attract people with their writing irregardless. One of the reasons I say this is that the signal to noise ratio of the newer social media is just too high. I’ve given up following twitter and I recently pared my facebook contacts/friends way down to get rid of the noise. That brings up the topic of “Have facebook and twitter peaked?, Should I spend my time and effort there?” or “Can I be heard in 300 words or less?”

  5. I disagree that “the blog is dead”, but the most successful blogs I follow are very focused. What I enjoy most here, for example, is the entomology content and I generally scan or skip the posts on academia and the like. I think the key to social media success, as with many forms of communication, is staying on topic.

  6. Looks like an excellent symposium, definitely be sitting in on the majority of it! I think some discussion of the future of blogs would be good topic (and one I have a vested interest in obviously). Otherwise, I’d maybe suggest the role that social media can have on career prospects and finding a job in entomology via networking, job adverts, experience etc. Looking forward to hearing your talk!

  7. Oh, the ESA reminded me there is another session on communication on Sunday:
    Myths, Misconceptions, and Mental Modifications: Identify, Clarify and Speak Out about Entomology.
    Sunday, November 13, 2011: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM

    Of particular note:
    3:30 PM Lights, camera, action: how to tell bug stories to the public via television, radio, and print
    Michael J. Raupp, University of Maryland; Patti Neger, ABC
    3:55 PM 0123
    Making the most of your time in the spotlight: keys to effective communication via media outreach
    Holly Menninger, Cornell University
    4:20 PM 0124
    How to speak to non-scientists, even the really frightened ones
    Richard Levine, Entomological Society of America

    (so jealous they get more than 10 minutes! Sigh.)

  8. I think your use of “off color” language is not inappropriate (although, I did warn my adviser the other day, when referring him to your blog on choosing a graduate program, that there was “strong language”). In fact, it might serve to make the post more accessible or familiar to layperson readers. No need to cover it up or excuse it…you have plenty of fans, and your use of language is part of what attracts them!

  9. LOL! The language is one of the most common complaints. I just tell people that I’m “keepin’ it real” and then….well, they fall over laughing, actually.

  10. Katie Cirkatiean July 13, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Hi Bug Girl,
    I’d like to hear about how you got yourself out there- on the interwebs. How do researchers share their experiences, findings and insights to interested parties? How do you get an audience to listen to bug science?? I found your blog first by typing “bugs” into google reader’s feed finder a while ago, but you were well established by then.

  11. Whatever you talk about, please post a transcript here for the REST of us!

  12. Actually, since I only have 10 minutes, I think I will probably just publish a series of posts on what I *would* have said, if I had more time :)

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