In the latest years the Social Media (or more generally the Web 2.0 tools) have become increasingly important in several aspects of everyday life and, thanks to their pervasiveness, they are used in various areas, including the scientific and academic ones. The importance of such tools have been underlined by several authors. The Social Media, in fact, are used in different activities: academic courses, spreading the results of research projects, informing citizens about initiatives, extracting data from the User Generated Content for particular purpose like, e.g., identify the places of greatest spread of certain diseases, etc. In the context of the our research projects about agrobiodiversity, we are using several Social Media services to disseminate our work and to inform the public. Anyway, the term Social Media points out to all the online technologies and practices used to share content, text, images, video and audio, referring to a plethora of tools. In our case, we refer to Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter and Google Fusion Tables. In this paper, we introduce such tools and discuss the advantages and the opportunities they offer to the academic/scientific community. For Wikipedia, after an introduction about its advantages/ disadvantages, we report how such platform is actually used for academic/scientific purposes, and later we show: i) how it can be used to write/edit entries about species at risk of genetic erosion; ii) in which manner such platform can improve the visits toward a website (referral effect) and iii) how it is possible to create online and printed books (Wikibooks) starting from the entries of Wikipedia platform. For Facebook and Twitter, first we argue about such tools can be used in spreading information about agrobiodiversity, and later we discuss how we are using them and which are the parameters that can provide interesting information in order to see if the communication is done effectively. Finally, we furnish some indications about Google Fusion Tables, an innovative cloud-based tool from Google that allow to create and manage big data online, which does not appear as a traditional database, as it focuses on the sharing and collaboration providing innovative ways to display data on a map. At last, we illustrate how we are using them in order to give greater emphasis to the information and communication about the results of our projects, since the importance of Social Media has recently been underlined by the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.
Keywords: Facebook, Google Fusion Tables, Twitter, Wikipedia, information and communication