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The Institute of Physics Turning to TikTok Influencers to Boost Interest in Science

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The Institute of Physics (IOP) in the United Kingdom is turning to TikTok influencers as a way to boost overall interest among schoolchildren in learning more about, and getting excited about Science.

The campaign utilizes high-profile TikTok content creators to raise awareness of the subject, in an effective form of influencer marketing.

“The campaign aims to reach more young people with positive messages about physics, especially those who are currently under-represented” Ray Mitchell, head of campaign strategy at IOP said in a Q&A with Nature.com.

Its report, which came out in 2020, showed that many are given incorrect information about the subject by people they listen to and trust (such as parents and teachers), based on their previous experiences and their own biases. These range from “it’s boring” and “it’s not creative”, to “you need to be a lone genius like Einstein to do it”. Also, that if you’re a girl or from a working-class background or from a Black Caribbean community, that it’s not for the likes of you. The primary target of the campaign is people who influence younger people — parents, teachers, the media and influencers on social media.

Mitchell also talked about the decision to use TikTok for the initiative.

“When you look at TikTok, the millions of younger people who are on it and the amount of time they spend there, it seems a natural medium for us. It doesn’t replace all the work we do in terms of science, communication and public engagement. It just adds an even bigger audience, getting across some very simple messages. With TikTok, we are using trusted ‘go-betweens’, or influencers, whose opinions are sought out and whom younger people will listen to.”

Mitchell also broke down the selection process.

“We didn’t choose the influencers solely on demographics and target groups, but also because of their average engagement rates, views per video and so on.” he said. “We wanted to ensure they had that undefinable ‘fit’ with what we were setting out to do, so we reviewed their previous videos, especially those that had been branded content.

So what will the posts on TikTok look like?

“In their short videos, they each do the same simple and accessible experiment — demonstrating how it’s possible to stand on boxes of eggs without breaking them, and saying that it’s physics that explains this. Each of the five influencers did their own video in very different ways, using the hashtag #IOPLimitLess and saying “Physics is for everyone” Mitchell details.

“The videos were posted in the 2021 Christmas holidays because we were advised that young people were going to be glued to their phones more than ever then.

 

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