When National Red Lists met Twitter

On the 17th of November, the National Red List team took over the Biotweeps Twitter account for the day to engage people with our work here at the Institute of Zoology and around the world . Founded and organised by conservation biologist Anthony Caravaggi, the account hosts a different biologist each week and has a following of 7,800 twitter users, a big step up from our usual following of 341! Admittedly, this was a little daunting – many of the biologists hosted previously had talked about their intrepid field work, whilst the everyday desk work that we carry out does not sound quite so exciting or glamorous.

To make the most of our newfound audience, we touched upon the strengths, achievements and impact of the National Red List Project, highlighting the success stories of existing National Red Lists. It was important to show that the work carried out by our small team is one stage of a much larger process.


Inevitably, we did talk a little about our day-to-day data processing too – we’ll take any opportunity to talk about our lovely National Red List database, and encourage people to use it.


An invaluable tip we picked up was to use TweetDeck, a tool that can be used to schedule tweets beforehand so that they are sent out automatically at set times. This meant that on the day we could relax in the knowledge that most of the tweeting had already been done and focus on interacting with other users, which certainly helped the takeover to run smoothly. And with this, we have now officially entered the 21st century. Expect even bigger things in future!

The experience was also a valuable lesson in science communication on social media. Our most retweeted and liked tweet by far contained an eye-catching figure, and told an interesting story in one self-contained tweet.


We really enjoyed our Biotweeps takeover, and would recommend the experience to anyone looking for a platform to talk about their work. Our takeover day was part of a week-long takeover by our research unit, the Indicators and Assessments Unit here at the Institute of Zoology. Over the course of that week, our humble @NationalRedList twitter account amassed a whopping 4,894 Twitter impressions – which although we are not entirely sure what that means, sounds impressive nonetheless. We are definitely out there in the Twittersphere! In case you missed out on the fun, we created a timeline of the day’s tweets from the @biotweeps account, but remember for every day news on National Red Lists, we usually tweet from @NationalRedList.

On the topic of science communication, we would love your stories of the National Red List process to share on our blog.