What does the social media editor of a journal do?

Graham Walton, Editor of New Review of Academic Librarianship, chose Claire Sewell as social media editor for his journal.

We caught up with Claire to find out more about the role. How did she become a social media editor of an academic journal? Why did the journal decide to launch social media pages? And what does she post about?

Q&A with Claire Sewell, Social Media Editor, New Review of Academic Librarianship

How did you become the social media editor of an academic journal?

Claire Sewell, Social Media EditorI was lucky enough to be recommended for the role by someone on the editorial board. For my postgraduate dissertation, I researched the impact of social media marketing in academic libraries. It’s always been an interest of mine.

I’ve managed social media for other groups and wanted to broaden my experience. Since moving to a role in the Scholarly Communication department at Cambridge, I take a more in-depth interest in the journal publication process. These factors came together at the right time when the journal was looking for a social media editor.

Why did the journal decide to launch social media pages?

A social media presence has become more of a necessity. People will look for you online. And you’re responsible for controlling your online identity.

The journal wanted to reach its existing audience and connect with a new one. Social media is the obvious place to do this. One of the main benefits of using tools like Twitter is you can take the conversation to your audience. You can’t rely on them coming to you.

The journal is keen to talk to people who:

  • read the journal
  • are interested in publishing something
  • want to learn more about the process

By having a presence on social media, we can start these conversations and involve as many people as possible.

What sort of social media presence existed for the journal when you first started in the role?

The journal’s social media presence was almost a blank slate.

I felt the journal should be on Twitter. Many members of our intended audience were active on it.

The journal’s Twitter account had been idle for a few months. I decided it was a priority to start it up again. There were some issues to address such as improving the username.

My plan was to establish a strategy that would fit in with the audience of the journal. I also wanted to open up opportunities for discussion. At the same time, I had to think about what was practical.

As a result, I decided to start by creating a presence on three networks:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn

These are all established social spaces that attract slightly different audiences and offer different benefits. By using these networks, we reach as many followers as possible from our target groups.

What type of material do you post?

I wanted to draw the online profile of the journal together in the way we share content.

We feature the types of material you’d expect a journal to post about:

  • calls for papers
  • notifications of new issues
  • general updates and news

We also make one article from every issue available via Open Access. We then promote this to our followers.

Beyond this, I wanted to expand our remit and describe the publication process. For example, explain what goes into producing the journal. What we do is not always clear. I like to talk about this. In the world of academic journals, communication is vital.

I talk about:

  • who we are as a committee
  • our individual roles
  • what goes on at meetings
  • how we plan things

I want people to see that academic publishing isn’t scary. By doing this, I hope to persuade more individuals to get involved.

Do you engage with authors on your social media pages? What do you like to find out from them?

We want to hear about the issues that concern authors. Then we’ll know if we’re covering the topics they want to read about. The journal needs to maintain its relevance for readers.

I want to chat with them to find out:

  • what people would like us to cover
  • who we should be talking to
  • how we can take the journal forward

Having this chat in an open setting allows others to view it. And hopefully prompts them to contribute too.

How do you measure the success of your social media pages? Do you have a target you aim to reach?

I try not to think about numbers. I focus on the level of engagement we get from our followers and the wider community.

By looking beyond the numbers, I can build a picture of the impact we’re having. Social media isn’t a one-way street. I like to see the types of comments we get from people. If we’re getting people to talk to us, and about us, we’re doing something right.

How do the social media editor of an academic journal and editor-in-chief work together?

We keep in close contact to make sure the other is up to date with what’s happening.

Our Editor-in-Chief, Graham, is experienced and it’s great to have him (and everyone else) as a sounding board. We define our relationship as we move forward. The regular contact is motivating as it helps me feel less isolated, which can happen when you’re separate from the rest of the team.

Interested in becoming a social media editor of an academic journal? Check out the social media pages of New Review of Academic Librarianship for some inspiration:

April 2, 2017

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