210409_Impulse21_ Aaron Shepard session
12:25PM Apr 13, 2021
I'm just started recording No. So let's find yeah so Aaron Shepherd really excited to read your bio actually love your lifelong love of sector. The space sets all the way from the shuttle days your academic career as well from biochemistry to medicine before electrical engineering, real renaissance man here. Two times South Carolina's space grad fellow three time intern at NASA Langley. Yeah, not. Not unimpressive. I'll tell say that, as soon as you get some pretty major research experience in aeronautics biomimetic robotics, which is two words that I don't understand, put together, as well as space robotics, and it looks like you're the founder of cognito. So creating neurofeedback technology to help combat the ADHD epidemic, which, I mean, you've got a huge variety of interests and skills clearly. But you're here today to talk to us about your work in aerospace and science outreach communities, especially on Tick Tock and that kind of short form videos.
Yes, so yes, thank you so much for the intro, Charlie. like Charlie said, my name is Aaron. I have a variety of interests, but they all centre around science, space exploration and outreach. I realised that I'm on a very short timeline. So I'm going to keep this moving. And I'm going to do it tik tok style, too. So, if it will let me go, yes. All right. So a little bit about me, like it said earlier. My name is Aaron shepherd. I'm a robotics engineer by trade. And then I'm also a NASA research and stem outreach fellow. And in addition to that, I am a science communicator. So I love talking about the importance of science, technology spaceflight, and how it can apply to our everyday lives. So as I go on with this talk, just a warning, the some of the tips that I tell you are, you may have heard, they're very common, but the difficulty in growing and establishing a social media following isn't necessarily the knowledge, it's the execution, upset knowledge, like we all know what to do, but the process of doing it just takes time and energy and effort. And for a lot of people that's difficult. So I'm going to give you some tips that I think will help make your social media journey easier. So tip one, know where you are, in particular with Tick Tock. So if you're like me, I'm actually starting to migrate over from Instagram to tik tok. And in that process, I had to learn that I'm dealing with two very different social media apps. With Instagram it is primarily pictures with some do some video features, whereas with tik tok, you are working with video only. Instagram, you are focused on aesthetically pleasing content. So you want good lighting, good backdrops, you want everything to just look crisp, and like it was shot in a studio, where's Tick tock, the value actually comes in with real raw and authentic content. And that's one thing that Tick Tock users push and pride and they, they constantly talk about how it is so authentic. And that's why they love it. Also, with Instagram, you don't have as many restrictions when it comes to link your posting belong, your videos can be long, that's fine. But with tic tock, you have one minute per post, and that makes it really, really challenging. So as you're creating content, you have to be aware of the space that you're operating in, and design your content to match to match the app that you're working for. So tip number two, and also I am a big fan of pop culture in particular, I grew up in the 90s. So I like to reference the Simpsons a lot. But you have to get with the trends. Chick Tick Tock as a video sharing app is fueled by Gen Z, and a global pandemic, which means a change, attention spans are short, and you don't have much time things happen and things change really fast. One thing that I'm starting to notice from Tick Tock is the fact that ads that are coming out now are referencing trends that were popular maybe three or four months ago, and it just feels totally out of place. And so they took too long to get on to the trend and you cannot make that mistake. One thing that I recommend is that you seek ways to mix current trends, music, etc. into your science and your space content. But make sure that you're being authentic in that approach. Like Don't, don't be that old person who's trying to like look cool for the kids like find a way to authentically mix those things that are trending into your content. For example, I did a video recently with a dancing spider robot where I had a dancing like a cardi B song that was really popular. And that got a lot of general that they had a lot of good feedback. It fit my niche, it fit what I do. But then it also was trendy and it caught the attention of new viewers and users. So tip number three is to tell a story. Although many things changed. Humans fundamentally have not we are we are all about stories. With science content. In particular, you want to show a problem that you're working on share a funny thing that happened while you were working on it, show how something is created, discovered made, etc. Like really spark like spark that human curiosity and then create the story that can supplement that curiosity. One thing as you were making your posts, you have to make them clear, concise and understandable to the everyday person. As a scientist there are things that are intuitive to you. However, most of the people on tik tok are not scientists and So you have to curate your content to make sure that they can get it to, um, remember, you only get one minute per post. And so with that, you have to pick the highs of everything. I just did a video where I was designing a robot, I had to cut a lot of content and say, Okay, what is important to the story, and what is extra details. And then last but not least, if you need more time to go over details, or to further explain something, just create a video series. So make it a series of five videos and keep it going that way. So that we you have, you can get the information across, but you can still meet the time constraints presented by the app. Okay, tip number four, this is a big one scripture videos, you want to write down a rough idea of what you're planning to say in your videos. Me personally, I have a Google Doc called Tick Tock scripts where I actually store my scripts. And then I also store ideas for videos or songs that I really liked that I want to use later. If you could take the time to write the script up front, it will actually speed up your creation process. And it will help with the next tip. Tip number five is to caption your videos, many users will look at Tick Tock with their with their volume either really low or off. And so having the captions allows them to see what your content is about without actually having to hear it. Another thing too, is that if you caption your videos, it shows that you have that you are supporting the deaf and hard of hearing community which is very good too, especially in 2021 when it is all about diversity and inclusion. And then last but not least, this is what statistics say videos with captions are still will statistically perform better than videos without I'm finding that to be true with myself. And so again, if you have that script already written, you can literally just chop it and put it in your video. And there's that there are also captioning apps that you can add on that will listen to your video and auto generate captions. So you have options, but always try to make the captions if you can. Tip number six. And this is big for us as scientists add a scientific perspective to popular videos, ideas or pop culture in general. Like I said earlier, most talkers are not scientists that many of them still want to learn. And you can add your perspective as a scientist to the things that they see. And like in their everyday lives such as the MCU, whatever is trending, what you see in Disney, etc. My first video that I had go viral was actually I was from I looked at a scene in Infinity War and I realised that hey, that's actually a Dyson sphere, which is this concept from science fiction and like a theoretical space structure. And I explained it, that video got like 40,000 views. And it was because I mixed something popular, like the MCU with actual science and I created constant of value. Another big thing. So my second video that I had go viral is debunking trending conspiracy theories, especially in your field of interest. So there was one person in particular I think, as the Mars rover landed, they said, Well, why do we need to go to Mars? Like, that's just a waste of money? Why don't we explore the ocean, then I was like, Okay, I'm a scientist and a scuba diver, I can tell you exactly why we do that, and why it's harder to explore the ocean. also pursue one thing when you do that is I like to go and come in and say like, Hey, there was one if somebody says, like, hey, the Earth is flat, and it's a really popular video, you can come in and say, I'm a scientist, here's why the earth is not flat. And that will actually help a, that'll help educate your audience. But be because it's already a popular video, you will, you will ride that wave to tip number seven volume. So social media favours high energy people. And that's because loud and flashing naturally grabs our attention. One thing I highly recommend is that you use some kind of microphone, as you're recording your audio, it doesn't have to be expensive. It can be like a mic like this that comes with your phone, but definitely record with a microphone. And if you're like me, and you're soft spoken, then you can actually bump up your volume and either the TIC Tock app or whatever video editing editing app that you use your video editing, editing app of choice, and that will help you kind of overcome that. That deficit. You can't help the fact that yourself that you can't help the fact that yourself spoken but you can do things to help enhance yourself and make your content stick out. Tip number eight post frequently, when you're growing a tick tock audience, you just have to post a lot to catch on to the algorithm. That is what it is. The ideal amount is sometimes is somewhere between two to five times a day, I'm still experimenting with that. But that's the number that I keep hearing. I know it can be hard to generate content. But one thing I'd like to say is don't be afraid to post filler content in between your main content in that case. So if I'm building a robot for my main content, it takes a while to build and then record. You can also take the time to talk about like the parts that you use. You're the process that you go through extra, you know things that you select problems that you've encountered, or you can just talk about things other ideas or concepts that interest you like, but whatever it is, you have to post frequently and in doing so, like it was mentioned earlier in spaceflight people that like space, we are highly experimental by nature or we are risk takers. So go ahead and experiment with the type of content that you post see what catches I had no idea that that MCU post would go do so well. But now I know in the future to He read my content more towards the MCU and showing how the science and the and the fiction actually go together. Tip number nine understand what the algorithm wants. Um, so tik tok wants to users to engage with the app. So with what that means is that you should utilise certain features such as stitch duet, green screen, all those things that are available to them, use them in your content that will actually help it perform better. And another thing too Tick Tock wants you to engage it wants, it doesn't want vanity metrics, it wants engagement, it wants human connection. And so with that case, like, comment on other people's videos, and then reply to anybody that comments to yours, that engagement will help push your video through the algorithm and hopefully to the for you page. And then finally, don't be don't be discouraged by inconsistencies in your view numbers tic Tock will actually like purposely put your video on the for you page and let it go viral, and then it won't do it for like your next 10 videos. And it's just to get you to keep contributing content to the app. So that's the game you have to deal with it. And then Tip Number 10 was six seconds left, have fun at the end of the day. tic Tock is about having fun, it's about being authentic. It's about being yourself. And hopefully it's about teaching others. So with that being said, that is the end of my 10 minute presentation. Thanks for listening. And if you guys want you can go ahead and add me on tik tok. There is my QR code sitting in the left. So if Yeah, if you have questions, we have time. I'm happy to answer them for you.
Round of applause. Absolutely. Nailed it on the timing. Aaron. Fantastic. Thank you very much. If anyone's got any questions, feel free to drop them in the chat and I'll collect them but we've got quite a small room. So if anyone else wants to just open up and ask a question, just let me know. One question I have. And I love what you said around things change and you know that it changes the cook is you start with the Simpsons piece. Because I about a year ago I heard about Tick Tock and I was like, No, I'm not going to download that. That's for Jen's ears and then I was like just bite the bullet and do it man and get over. I think it's quite an uncomfortable piece. One of the things that I noticed about Tick Tock is a lot of its music based, right because of where it started with bite dance and everything. How much do you incorporate that into videos? Or do you try and steer away from the How does that work from a from a say calm and space calm perspective?
Oh, I totally try to incorporate it partially because I like music and i i like it adds it adds an additional dimension to yourself into your content. For example, if I'm doing a video I will look at the songs that are trending on tik tok and I will try to throw it into the video just because it the algorithm will bump it up. But then again, it shows that hey, I'm not just a scientist, I'm a person I listened to cardi b i like Megan, the stallion all that stuff. So yeah, it I think it helps again, because with tik tok, the goal is to be multi dimensional. Like with Instagram, I felt like a lot of us had to put ourselves into one role. And what makes Tick Tock so successful is that it allows us to actually expand and it's like, well, hey, I'm not just the scientist I'm actually really into. I'm not just the scientists in the space stuff. I really like the MCU I also like hip hop, I love millennial things like so yeah, I definitely would incorporate that I would actually embrace it instead of steer clear away from it. Great, Kate, I think you've got a question.
And so a lot of people name your space Kate. But my other handle is radio, Kate because I started out doing radio stuff. So I'm very much a behind behind the scenes kind of person, you don't get to see me. Like, do you have any tips for people who like me who might be a bit nervous of being on video? Like that sort of fear of.
So to get over? Honestly, it's one of those things that you just become more comfortable as you do it. But keep in mind like you can help yourself along the way I in case you don't in case you can't tell I'm actually really nervous when I speak in crowds. And so when I'm doing tic tocs, I'll sit there and be like, Oh my god, what am I saying? And that's why I do things like I script my videos, I plan them out in advance. And I have a clear defined process that I can follow. Also, a lot of times I don't like seeing myself on camera. So some videos, I will just shoot from a first person view, especially if I'm doing like a robot build or something. And then I'll just voice over it. And that kind of helps quell that fear. Thanks. We have 50 seconds left as you're getting more questions, or do you wanna jump out and head back to the main room?
I guess we should probably jump out but I want to say thank you. That was really really interesting.
Yes, thank you. Yeah, thank you guys for this thing.