For scholarly publishing professionals, social media is one of the most valuable tools we have to promote our organizations, journals, authors, editors, reviewers, and our communities at large. For no cost, we can cultivate audiences across the world to amplify our important messages near and far. We can also use these same tools to showcase our own talents and strengths to further our careers. Let’s examine the social media outlets commonly used in our field and how to best use them to promote both those we serve and ourselves.
It’s no secret that Twitter is my favorite social media tool as an individual professional. I rely on Twitter for a myriad of work-related uses. I wholeheartedly recommend that anyone in the field of scholarly publishing have an account and immediately start following coworkers, community members of their own organizations, colleagues at other organizations (CSE, Society for Scholarly Publishing [SSP], Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers [ALPSP], International Society for Managing and Technical Editors [ISMTE], etc.), and anyone and everyone who has something valuable to say about publishing, science, and the world at large. I learn at least one new thing from Twitter every single day of the year. Twitter keeps me sharp and allows me access to knowledge that makes me better at my job.
Here’s where I find value as an individual Twitter user:
- Keeping up with scholarly publishing trends and news. Thanks to Twitter, I keep up with the latest information related to Open Access, preprint servers, peer review innovations, what other journals are up to, and so much more.
- Networking. With this one app, I connect with fellow employees at the American Urological Association plus our editors, authors, and members. I have conversations with fellow scholarly publishing professionals I have met in person, in addition to those I only “know” from Twitter.
- Promotion. I use my own Twitter account to amplify messages from my organization and our publications. It’s a platform to share my own volunteering efforts, including those with CSE. And where else would I encourage people to read this very column? Twitter, of course!
- Following the right individuals and organizations on Twitter. Here are some good places to start:
Then, as you scroll through Twitter more regularly, you’ll start noticing other accounts that interest you. Follow those, too. Don’t forget to keep the list of people you follow fresh. If you aren’t learning from and/or interacting with an account, perhaps it’s time to unfollow.
And let’s not forget that Twitter is a powerful tool to promote our journals and organizations. Journals can promote authors and their articles individually, positively influencing citations and Altmetrics. Organizations at large can advance their missions, events, and members. What do you need to do to get started if your journals and/or organization aren’t on Twitter?
- Permission from those in charge. Do not start a Twitter account for your journal or organization without the buy-in of your leadership. You will want the buy-in of your supervisor, your organization, your editorial board—anyone who should have a say in the messaging of the account.
- A plan. Once you have support from your leadership, then you need to decide what you’re trying to say. Also, who will the account represent? Your journal? Do you have more than one journal? What about your organization at large? Will you have separate accounts for each of these entities? Who will be involved in maintaining the account(s)?
- Consideration of voice, style, and tone. We all work in the field of scientific editing and realize the importance of all three. Don’t forget about voice, style, and tone when crafting your posts.
I have to be completely honest here and share that I do not love Facebook as an individual. I don’t love the idea of getting back in touch with my middle school gym teacher or the girl who was mean to me on the bus in middle school. I do acknowledge that it’s valuable to some in their professional lives, though, and I encourage you to think about how you can use this tool to elevate yourself. As one example, my husband is a real estate agent, and Facebook is one of the top ways that he is able to earn new business and keep his clients updated on his new listings and the market. It doesn’t take much of his time, but the return on his small investment is undeniable.
Although I am not a Facebook fan for my own personal use, I love it for organizations and journals. Facebook doesn’t have the same constraints as Twitter as far as characters and numbers of photos that can be posted. If you want to post an entire abstract and multiple figures for an article, you can! If readers want to comment with a long response to a post, they can! The sharing capabilities on Facebook are tremendous. Just see above about the due diligence you need to do before starting any organizational account(s).
I see LinkedIn as the tool for you. LinkedIn should be kept up to date at all times with your full career history, education, professional memberships, and skills. Did you read an article you think your colleagues would benefit from? Re-share it here. Is your organization hiring? Tell everyone on LinkedIn. Do you have an awesome professional accomplishment that everyone needs to know about? LinkedIn is the place to brag about it and where your peers expect to see such self-promotion. And don’t be selfish! Every time you are on LinkedIn, take a minute to comment on someone else’s post or to endorse a connection for their skills.
LinkedIn isn’t only for you, though. I learned an important lesson revolving around LinkedIn a few years back. With a former employer, our Subscriptions Manager learned that one of our international subscribers preferred getting their information from us via LinkedIn. Our organization quickly made LinkedIn more robust in featuring content from our journals. The takeaway? Have these conversations with your constituents and implement changes to show you’re listening.
YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Snapchat, and More
Do you have video content you’d love to share, or are your members and authors clamoring for a vehicle to share their hot takes? YouTube is your answer. Many online hosts for journals will allow you to link out to YouTube videos. Instagram is perfect to share get-to-know-you features of individuals, beautiful images from your journals, slide shows of summarized scientific content, and short video posts and stories. Pinterest, TikTok, and Snapchat might not seem related to your mission, but you can have fun with these platforms. TikTok is an excellent vehicle to make a snappy, fun video to explain a tough scientific concept. Make it part of your job to understand these more obscure platforms and how they may or may not fit into your individual and/or organizational social media strategies. You’d be surprised at what might be successful.
That’s the Tweet!
I can’t summarize what I’m trying to say in 280 characters like I would in a tweet. However, I can conclude that you need to know your audience(s). Who is your personal audience? Who are the audiences important to your organization? What is the best way to reach these people? Keep looking around you and listening carefully to determine which platform(s) the people important to you are using. Social media is constantly evolving, and what is useful at the time I’m writing this article could be quite different from what will work best for you and your organization in the future.
Jennifer Regala is the Director of Publications/Executive Editor at the American Urological Association.