Promote your journal using social media

As a journal editor, your subject-matter expertise makes you ideally placed to promote your journal’s content on social media. This doesn’t mean much, however, unless the community you want to reach sees the interesting and relevant posts you can craft around your journal’s content.

Learn how to cut through the noise and make sure your messages get seen by the right audience. These guidelines walk you through how to create a strategy, build a community, write compelling posts, and maintain an account that will get your messages, and therefore your journal, in front of the right people at the right time.

There might be 4.9 billion people using social media today, but that’s no help to you or your journal if you can’t reach the slice of that two billion who find your journal relevant. The secret to using social media is to define your audience before you start trying to reach them.

After all, how can you plan a journey without knowing your destination? Once you have that definition, you can tailor your content and build a high-quality network of followers and fans who are genuinely interested in the content you post.

Know your audience

Get to know your audience with research and use the knowledge of your research community to help develop and execute your social media strategy. It can be helpful to build out a semi-fictional character to represent this audience – a reader persona. This isn’t a real person, but it’s based on real, specific details about a typical reader of your journal.

Use your knowledge of the field, talk to researchers, gain inspiration from trusted sources on social media, and try to answer the following questions about your preferred audience with as much detail as possible:

  • What is your preferred audience’s background?

  • What’s their demographic?

  • Are they an established researcher who submits their work to the journal?

  • Are they an industry reader who uses the research in their workplace?

  • Are they Ph.D. students?

  • What other industries and interests do they interact with?

  • What kind of time pressures do they have?

  • What problems are they looking to solve by searching for journal content?

  • What do they want to achieve? What are their goals?

  • Where do they usually go to find journal content?

  • Do they talk to colleagues?

  • Do they follow certain field-specific news aggregation sites?

  • What social media platforms do they already use? Do they use them personally, professionally, or both?

Before launching a new social media channel

Before you launch a new social media channel, look at the assets you already have.

  • Are you a well-established author and editor in the field?

  • Do you have a significant online presence?

  • Do you already post about research activities and other professional content?

Then it might be just as effective to use your personal social media channels to promote journal content, differentiating them with a specific journal hashtag, rather than trying to build a new following from scratch.

Choose the best channel

Not all social media channels are used the same. Each platform has different users and they’re on those channels for different reasons. Make sure you are aware of these reasons when deciding which platform to use for your journal.

Use your time effectively and focus on the one or two platforms where you are most likely to find your reader persona. Here are a handful of social media platforms to choose from to build your journal’s social media presence.

X: X’s purpose is to connect people and allow them to share their thoughts with a big audience in real-time. X allows users to discover stories regarding today’s biggest news and events, follow people or companies that post content they enjoy consuming, or simply communicate with friends.

Facebook: Facebook’s purpose is to post content like text status posts, images, videos, and external links like blog posts, Facebook users can contribute ideas and join conversations with other people who share the same or different interests.

Instagram: Instagram’s purpose is to share photos and videos. This social media app is great for building a brand community.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn’s purpose is to network professionally, post and find jobs, answer questions, and build thought leadership.

Use the answers from the ‘Know your audience’ section as a starting point to dig a little deeper. View competitors with similar target audiences, research and look at:

  • What format of post your persona prefers (e.g. video, text, audio)

  • How often they are active on social media

  • What length of content do they tend to prefer and engage with

Finally, be sure you can provide the kind of content your chosen channel prefers at the frequency it demands. 

X, for example, moves fast and you need to maintain posting weekly. Other sites, like Instagram, are image-based – can you communicate the topics in your journal in picture form or are the topics too abstract?

Set some goals

Often a journal editor will launch a social media account because they want to increase downloads or get more submissions.

These are perfectly reasonable long-term goals, but you need to think about what needs to happen to get from where you are now to where you want to be.

Set ongoing targets around your new account that allow you to track your progress and make sure you’re using your time and efforts as effectively as possible.

Set specific targets around the kind of metrics that will tell you if you are successfully working towards your end goal. That might be follower numbers, shares, likes, or comments.

Be sure to make your goals SMART though. This means:

  • Specific

  • Measurable

  • Achievable

  • Relevant

  • Time-bound

For example, follower numbers might be a useful metric if you want to grow your journal audience, but if half of the followers you’ve gained are bots, that’s of no use to you at all. Saying you want “x researcher followers in y months” is much more specific and relevant, not to mention time-bound and measurable.

Case study: My role as a social media editor: one year on

Claire Sewell, Social Media Editor

What do you wish you’d known when you first started?

It is important to have a good strategy, rather than just posting content you hope is working; taking the time to think things through can be hard when you are eager to jump in and get started, but I think this planning time is a great investment.

Moreover, knowing at the outset that it is important to ask for help and use the skills of others has been an important personal lesson for me. I’m a classic perfectionist and sometimes struggle to admit that I need help, but the support I’ve had from fellow board members and Taylor & Francis has been amazing.

Claire Sewell, Social Media Editor, New Review of Academic Librarianship

Read the full interview on Taylor & Francis Editor Resources

You know who you want to reach and where they are. Now you need to know how to reach them. Your social media account is an excellent tool for promoting your journal but with planned execution. You need a plan to develop, grow and maintain an engaged community around your account.  

How to build your community

Spread the word among your peers and colleagues and ask other board members to do the same. Follow them, build rapport, and encourage them to share your content by sharing their content and interacting with them.  

When you’ve created your account, ‘follow’ or ‘like’ the Taylor & Francis or Routledge subject accounts, as well as industry experts, influencers in your field of research, and related businesses, professional bodies, and societies.  

Placing links to your social media profiles in your email signature is a great way to make people aware of your accounts.

You can find Taylor and Francis on the social media channels below:

Newsroom: @tandfnewsroom Here you can find press releases featuring the very latest ground-breaking research as soon as it is published by Taylor & Francis, Routledge, CRC Press, Garland Science, and Cogent OA.   

The hashtag #InTheNews also highlights where Taylor & Francis Group journal content is featured in the press.

YouTube: Taylor and Francis YouTube channel posts publishing tips, author interviews, video abstracts, conference highlights, and more. 

Subject-specific accounts: Reach out to your publisher for details of the relevant subject-specific Taylor & Francis Group social media accounts.

LinkedIn: Through our LinkedIn page, we partner with researchers, scholarly societies, universities, and libraries worldwide to bring knowledge to life.

You should also make the most of conferences. Visit all relevant booths and collect social media account details of bloggers, societies, and groups and then follow up by following, liking, sharing, and engaging with them.  

 To engage while you are at the conference, be sure to use event hashtags and comment and retweet conference content.  

Working with your Taylor & Francis contact

Don’t forget to let your publisher know when you create a new social media account. Taylor & Francis Group is invested in helping your journal’s social strategy and we can help you in several ways, including:

Promoting the journal account from the Taylor & Francis/Routledge subject account, encouraging people to ‘follow’ or ‘like’ your journal’s social media accounts.

Hosting an interview/X chat between the journal account and the Taylor & Francis Group subject page.

Sharing and engaging with the content you post.

When planning what content to post to your social media accounts, think about what the most effective format for meeting your reader persona’s needs.

Balancing your content

As with any social account, you should aim to balance your posts so that you don’t spam your audience with too much self-promotional content.

Think of it like being at a party. Who wants to hang around with a person who just talks about themselves all night? Aim to post both content that focuses on promoting your journal and content that focuses on maintaining your community and joining in on the conversation.

Here at Taylor & Francis Group, we aim to follow the rule of thirds:

Promoting: journal news; special or virtual issues; call for papers; article of the month.

Sharing: Thought leadership content; content from societies, authors; community news pieces and blog posts.

Engaging: Researcher queries and posts (commenting and responding to); identifying and engaging with opinion leaders.  

You need to engage in conversations with your audience, especially key influencers in your field. Remember the value of reciprocity. Does someone engage and re-post your content? Then comment and engage with their content in return. This is key to forming relationships and building a high-quality network of ‘followers’ and ‘supporters’.

You can create lists of key groups, societies, and people to follow so that you can join in their conversations by commenting and reposting content from their feeds.

Their feeds will also tell you what kind of content people like and interact with the most.

Creating a content plan

Vary the types of content you post, e.g. videos, infographics, pictures. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Promote articles published in your journal to drive traffic, downloads, and citations.

  • Provide informative, professional insight on issues your audience is interested in

  • Share interesting infographics, research, or news articles from external sites.

  • Share videos, interviews, and press releases featuring your journal’s research.

  • Provide academic development advice relevant to your reader persona.

  • Host open discussions with your audience like X interviews, discussions, polls, etc

  • Promote a key conference or event you are attending

Once you have decided what you will post, determine how often to publish these posts to your social media accounts, and set that as a hard rule.

  • How many posts a week will be promoted of journal content?

  • How many will focus on engaging with your community?

  • How many times will you share posts from recognizable experts?

Finally, create a content calendar so you don’t miss any important opportunities.

  • What subject-specific events occurred this year?

  • What conferences will you or your editorial board attend? 

  • What presentations and speaking engagements do you or your colleagues have?

  • How many planned engagement events (X chats, interviews, etc.) do you want to host or be a part of?

  • Who else will be involved with these?

  • When will the journal have special issues and calls for papers?

Other things to keep in mind about your audience on social media:

  • What format of post your persona prefers (e.g. video, text, audio)?

  • How often are they on social media? What times of the day?

  • What type of content do they engage with the most?

1. Define your goal

What do you want your reader to do in response to your post? Click a link? Share? Comment? Sign up for something? Tell people what to do. Use the imperative and grab people’s attention from the get-go: ‘Explore’, ‘Read’, ‘Submit’.  

3. Use handles

In your Facebook posts to engage with others, especially key influencers in your field. You can also include the handles of relevant people, organizations, or societies (where relevant) that don’t already follow you and you may gain them as a follower.    

5. Make it easy to understand

Article titles can often be impenetrable, even to researchers in the field, so don’t just copy and paste. Look through the abstract and find a pithy, catchy way of summing up the key message or focus of the article. And avoid jargon, academic or otherwise.  

7. Ask questions

Start conversations to engage with your audience. Just be sure to talk about what you know and avoid commenting on what you don’t. You can also take part in X discussions, such as the International Review of Psychiatry’s sport and mental health live X discussion to engage with influencers in your field and to show your own academic influence.

9. Proofread

Measure twice, cut once. Check your handles, your spelling, and your links. And if you make a mistake you can delete and redo it, but if it’s been picked up by someone, honesty is the best policy. Hold your hands up, apologize, and then redo it. 

2. Use images

To help your post stand out. Use a screenshot of the article’s abstract or take a photo of the event/ person/ place you are posting about. Free tools like Canva and Pablo let you overlay text onto copyright-free images, which on sites like X, can give you crucial space to explain the heart of the article you’re promoting.

4. Use hashtags

To make your X posts and Facebook posts findable, though don’t use more than two (three at most) per post. Search to check for commonly used hashtags rather than making up #obscurephrases. Use event-specific hashtags to engage in conversations happening in real-time and, on the flip side, create a hashtag for your journal so that you can keep track of conversations happening around it.

6. Respect social media etiquette

Be polite, honest, and respectful. Use retweets, handles, or comments to give credit whenever appropriate. And don’t publish content or material protected by copyright without obtaining written permission from the owners.

8. Keep it short and sweet

Online readers’ attention spans are very limited so use short and simple words, and keep posts concise. For example, try to keep Facebook posts to a limit of 250 characters.

10. Be human

A friendly, warm, and genuine approach will ensure optimum engagement and reach for your messages. Write the way you talk to your colleagues – in a natural, professional, and conversational tone.

Your social media marketing strategy helps you stay consistent and achieve the goals that you set for your journal.

Create a routine

Stay on track by creating a schedule. A routine creates consistency, and that consistency helps build your audience. By being consistent, you help your audience learn what to expect.

Create content that involves a call to action

Call to actions form a conversation and allows room for engagement. Examples of a call to action can be: Asking a question to get followers to join in on a conversation, forming a poll to get interaction, or providing a link to your journal to get people to read or download.

Use social listening to stay updated

Social listening allows you to find conversations your journal can join in with. You can see industry trends, provide your input with like-minded groups and gain supporters, you can keep up with industry trends, and learn more about your audience.   

Monitor and adapt: Monitor your social platforms so you can track performance. Monitoring your performance will allow you to see what’s working and from there, you can make adjustments.

Consider scheduling tools

Scheduling tools aid in staying consistent. You can create content ahead of time and schedule posts across different platforms. The scheduling tools allow you to save time and focus on other aspects of social media management like engaging with your audience.

Don’t be afraid to recycle content

You do not have to keep coming up with new ideas for every post. Look through your content and see what you can repurpose. See what content has done well, and go from there. You can turn lists into a thread on X, turn lists into Instagram carousels, quote on top of an old X post that performed well, or retweet an old post for people to see again.

Responsibility Assignment

Decide who will post on and monitor the account (make sure it’s someone who thoroughly understands the journal subject matter). Having a day-to-day social media editor/s will help maintain a consistent activity and tone of voice on your account.

This social media editor/s could be:

  • You, the journal editor

  • A member of the editorial board

  • A sub-group of the editorial board

  • A mentee or assistant: This person needs to be able to update the account frequently. A good rule of thumb is three posts per week on Facebook and three to five messages or reposts per day minimum on X.

Alongside your social media editor/s, we also recommend having someone at top-level management of your journal who has access to the social media accounts to:

  • Solve any issues or respond to controversial messages. Speaking of which, while a legitimate academic debate is a good thing when it comes to trolls and any offensive posts – it’s best not to engage.

  • Regularly change the account passwords.

  • Occasionally monitor the account for best practices and interesting content to engage with.

  • Keep the accounts up to date with website information, the correct journal cover and logos, and any contact details you share.

  • Maintain a crib sheet of key account details and responsibilities to help with succession planning should the editorial board change. 

Helpful tools

It’s not always easy to give social media accounts the attention they require. Without it, however, your community will dwindle. That’s where tools like Hootsuite or Buffer can help.

These allow you to schedule content ahead of time. You can create curated feeds that draw in third-party content, which you can then schedule directly into your feed. And you can monitor messages and mentions from one place rather than having to log into multiple accounts each day.

Here is a list of helpful tools to use while managing your social media account:

You should also make the most of the analytics tools that come with your social media account. Both Facebook and, for example, offer basic insights into which posts have the greatest reach, what the demographics of your X fans and followers are, and how you can boost your engagement.