by Oana Sandu

If your science centre is on Twitter and posting about its activity, that’s great! If not, check why you should be tweeting.

Apart from talking about your activities, another way to engage with people on Twitter is to answer their questions. This is an efficient way to grow your online community and get closer to your friends. And there is even a study to back that affirmation.

InboxQ has recently issued this diagram based on a study they did. There are a few things that should catch your attention:

  • Those who are likely to ask more questions and to do so publicly are high follower account holders, which means that if you engage with these people by answering their questions, you are likely to reach a larger audience.
  • People who received an answer from someone who was not yet connected with them (likely a situation you will be in) were generally more satisfied with the quality of the answers. This means you have great chances of gaining friends/followers by offering quality replies.
  • In general, we say today that people are more likely to trust their peers than advertising. However, 80% of respondents appreciated answers coming from businesses. This means that unlike advertising or other one-way communication channels, Twitter gives your brand/organisation a voice to be heard and trusted.
  • Respondents who received answers from a business were more likely to follow that account and also to buy the company’s product or service. Let’s translate this into tickets to your planetarium show.

So why spend time answering questions over Twitter given these findings?

Five benefits for answering questions on Twitter

  1. By replying @users who asked questions, you raise awareness of your brand and account.
  2. You provide real help to people when they needed most, a crucial asset on social media.
  3. You gain more followers, and in most cases they are people with more than 100 followers of their own.
  4. You build trust and fidelity among your followers or followers-to-be.
  5. You engage in a dialogue and increase your activity on social media, which further helps you to become more visible.

How to track questions?

First of all, have a look at which topics people are interested in. Among them there are a few where a science centre like yours can definitely provide input:

  • You can suggest a visit to the planetarium for questions about: local suggestions
  • You can invite people looking for entertainment options to an observing night at your observatory
  • You can highlight products in your shop as gift ideas for those looking for product recommendations and advice
  • You can recommend a good astronomical book
  • Or send a link to some astonishing astronomical images for those interested in photography
  • For sure you will have educational material to share
  • Maybe even a job opportunity for those looking for a workplace
  • If your centre is located in a tourist destination, be sure to offer as travel advice a visit at your venue

Based on these areas of interest, set up searches on Twitter with the name of your town for example #cityname or key words such as #astronomy #photography #tips #education. To identify other popular and relevant hashtags people are using, have a look at

Additionally, you could also set up some Google Alerts for the same key words.

For dedicated users only

Those of you who are really into social media and willing to spend more time on it, could also consider organising a session of Questions and Answers over Twitter like in the last year project Ask a Curator. However, bear in mind that the situation is slightly different:

  • it is no longer a needs-driven session of questions, but one proactively initiated by you
  • you are likely to talk mostly to people who already follow you
  • on the other hand, you might get a chance to explore a topic in-depth if you set a theme for the Q&A session
  • you will get your followers to interact with you and between themselves, which will make your community stronger

Until next time, Clear Skies!



"This article is taken from with the author's permission"


oanaOana Sandu works as community coordinator for ESO’s education and Public Outreach Department (ePOD). She is responsible for the promotion and distribution of outreach products or events and the social media presence of both ESO and ESA/Hubble. With a degree in Communication and Public Relations and a Master Degree in Marketing, she worked for two years in a leading Eastern European PR agency from. As a volunteer, she was involved in projects such as Global Astronomy Month, the Space Generation Congress and World Space Week. She keeps a blog on astronomy communication at, tweets on and posts on


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