Annual Meeting Reports

Using Popular Social Media

This session focused on the best practices for using social media, the integration of social media into editorial workflows, and tips for measuring the effect of social-media campaigns.

The first speaker, Aaron Weinstein, managing editor of digital media and supplements at Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, spoke about using Facebook as a publisher to encourage sharing of links to content. Posts to Facebook should encourage users to interact with the journal or other people. A simple automated push of notifications, such as updating when a new issue is posted or a particular type of article is published, can be set up with Rich Site Summary (RSS) feeds from a journal. Weinstein cautioned not to overwhelm “fans” and to spread multiple posts throughout the day. Automated posts can be augmented with manual updates, but these take time, and he recommended planning the content of the posts ahead of time. Using such information as an upcoming table of contents, an editor can craft posts and have them ready when the material is published. A table of contents can be sliced into many separate posts to highlight different types of content in a journal.

His overall recommendations were to be “human” and not too stodgy with the language of posts, to augment automated posts with “live” posts from the field, and to interact with users because social media can make it fun to capture new audiences and provide information.

The second speaker, Nick Lindsay, journals director at The MIT Press, spoke about the experience of the press with social media and marketing. Facebook may not be a good driver of sales or subscriptions, but it does drive the use of particular articles. Twitter was recommended as a better medium because its users are more accepting of multiple posts on the same topic and are more likely to check for updates than are Facebook users. Google+ was discussed briefly, but it is not now a major player. Lindsay noted that articles that are the subjects of podcasts receive substantially more downloads than the average article.

The third speaker, Duncan MacRae, managing editor of Neurosurgery, spoke on interpreting social-media metrics. The key to using social media is to define a successful campaign at the outset: establish expectations—such as increasing reader engagement, expanding audience, or promoting content and activities—and stick to them throughout the campaign. Facebook has built-in metrics that are available on the administration panel. MacRae cautioned that “likes” do not tell a lot because a user can like something once and never come back, whereas “talking about this” is a better gauge of user involvement. He shared the Bieber example: Justin Beiber has 53 million “likes”, but fewer than 1% are “talking about this”. Another Facebook metric to evaluate is “reach”, which provides demographics on users’ locations, sex, and ages. YouTube channel analytics can be downloaded, and the sources of users’ access (such as mobile phones) are available. Following and assessing conversations on Twitter is time consuming. The built-in analytic tool “Interactions” provides some data, but it may be necessary to use third-party tools to dig into Twitter data.

Although social media can be a distraction, the positives of engaging readers tend to outweigh the negatives. Interaction with the audience is critical, and using Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube effectively can help to achieve marketing success. Be sure to set goals ahead of time and take advantage of the analytics available within the platforms. Interact with users in a professional but not too formal manner. Determine posts in advance, and craft messages that encourage users to interact with each other.