The last time we interviewed Claire Sewell, she’d just been appointed to the role of social media editor for the journal New Review of Academic Librarianship. At that time, we wanted to find out about her new role and her hopes of creating an effective social media presence.
A year on, we caught up with her to reflect on the joys and challenges of the role. She shares with us the impact social media has had on the journal. And what she wishes she’d known when she started.
What impact has social media had on the journal?
Having a social media presence has increased our readership by making the journal more visible. We can make people aware of the release of new issues and showcase articles that are of relevance.
We’ve also been able to see the types of news and content that our readers respond to. Are they interested in certain topics more than others? Is there something we should be focusing on based on what they’re telling us?
It’s been a great way to open up communication with our readership.
How do you measure social media impact?
I keep track of basic analytics such as retweets, likes and replies. These actions give me an idea of the reach of the journal.
I also look at the content of the interactions. To me, this tells me more than numbers ever could. It’s easy to ‘like’ something and then never come back to it. But if you look at the comments, you can see the impact the content is having on people’s research and practice.
Which social media platform has been most effective?
Twitter is the most effective site we currently use. Librarians have taken to Twitter as a group, so this is perhaps not surprising.
We get a lot of engagement on Twitter, especially when we share details of new articles. It provides instant access to information and content through a short message rather than relying on someone to read a long abstract.
Do you use feedback and engagement from social media to develop the journal?
Social media is useful as we can instantly see the topics that resonate with our readers. One of the benefits of using these platforms is that they encourage feedback. And that feedback is instant, which means that we can respond quickly.
Online collections of material such as a recent compilation of articles by Irish authors have proved popular. This helps us to think about the online presence of the journal beyond social media. What do our readers respond to and what would they like to see more of?
We want to make social media feel like part of the journal rather than an added extra.
Have there been any surprises along the way?
When I started, I wasn’t sure if we would get any response at all. I’ve been pleased to see that people are engaging with the information we put out there.
I don’t know of many other traditional journals that use social media in the same way, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be talking to myself. But I’ve had nothing but positive comments.
The engagement from readers has been a real pleasure and kept me going through the year.
What’s been the most challenging aspect of the role of social media editor?
Balancing the time commitment with other responsibilities has been a challenge. But I’ve adapted.
Luckily, there are several online tools to help with scheduling. I can add messages on the go from my phone, and that helps me maintain a good balance.
What do you wish you’d known when you started?
It’s vital to have a good strategy. Don’t just post content you hope is working. Take the time to think things through. It can be hard when you’re eager to jump in and get started, but planning time is a great investment.
Knowing that it’s important to ask for help and use the skills of others has been an important personal lesson for me. I’m a classic perfectionist. Sometimes I struggle to admit that I need help.
The support I’ve had from fellow board members and Taylor & Francis has been amazing.
What would be your top tip for people new to the role of social media editor?
Take the time to do some research on the best social media platforms for your journal. Don’t just copy what everyone else is doing. You need to appeal to your audience rather than anyone else’s.
Also, don’t be afraid to stop using a social network that isn’t working. To use these networks effectively takes time. It could be that your energy is better spent elsewhere where you can more effectively reach your audience.