Journal editors have always had to be masters of wearing many hats, taking on new roles and responsibilities to meet the needs of the evolving publishing process. Today, as researchers continue to favor online avenues for locating and publishing scholarship in journals, those “hats” seem to be multiplying at an unprecedented rate, with the role of digital journal promoter rising toward the top of the pile.
For new stand-alone publications, journal-specific digital promotion is virtually required for a successful launch. But for longer-standing publications affiliated with a university press or society publisher with an in-house marketer, taking the time for independent journal promotion may be a somewhat unfamiliar endeavor. If you’re an editor of a journal affiliated with an institution you may wonder: When and how should I be independently promoting my journal? Is independent journal promotion worth the extra time?
While press-wide promotion is an important way to maintain your journal’s brand and online presence, it lacks the focus of journal-specific promotion and many of the benefits that come with it. Here are 4 reasons to start independently promoting your journal and suggestions to get you started:
Among the easiest and least expensive forms of online promotion is social media, which many publishers have begun to embrace. Social media is also one of the most redundant forms of promotion— or at least it should be.
Did you know that the majority of tweets have a lifespan of about 18 minutes? That means that from the time a tweet is sent out it will only appear on followers’ feeds for about 18 minutes before the next crop of posts takes its place. For Facebook the average lifespan of a post is only slightly better, with most posts rapidly dropping in visibility after 50 minutes. Given these numbers, if you’re relying on your society or university publisher to promote your journal via social media, unless you’re only one of two publications, you’re likely not getting much airtime or many eyes on posts about your journal.
Choosing to have even one journal-specific social media outlet, such as a journal Twitter or Facebook profile, can exponentially improve the odds of people reading and talking about your articles, both in and surrounding academia. Journals can use social media outlets to announce new issues, promote individual articles, and develop a scholarly network of authors, readers, and reviewers.
To get the benefits of social media without having to devote time to it every day, consider making a monthly calendar of journal announcements to post on your social platforms that follows your editorial schedule. You can spread the task of social posting among editors, or you may find that there’s one social media savvy person on your team who’s eager to take the lead. In addition to scheduled posts, stay open to impromptu posting opportunities such as live tweeting during conferences and events. Aim to post to your social networks at least 4 times a day to ensure that your content is reaching a wide enough audience.
While prestige remains a major influence behind why scholars choose to submit their papers where they do, visibility is increasingly becoming a factor. In a recent interview Oxford Internet Institute Researcher Cristóbal Cobo spoke of the mounting importance scholars are placing on impact indicators beyond article citation rates, which he calls “new currencies of knowledge.” Early-career researchers are likely to favor journals that help them make their publications more visible thereby increasing their altmetrics impact levels.
Social media is one way that journals can help boost the visibility of their authors, but certainly not the only one. Journals can also help authors increase the likelihood of readers finding their publications by launching a journal blog. One example of a journal successfully running a blog at little additional cost in terms of time is Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, which has a journal blog with content almost entirely provided by authors who agree to write about their published articles.
Another simple way journals can promote themselves and help authors expand the reach of their articles is by providing authors with clear information on their open access options, such as when and how authors can deposit their journal articles into an institutional repository. While the majority of authors are aware of the benefits of increased readership and probability of citations that comes with putting articles in a repository, many may be unsure of if and when they will be able to take advantage of the opportunity. Prominently displaying and explaining how your journal is helping authors make their work open is another way to set it apart from the rest.
In addition to using promotion in the traditional sense, to draw attention to articles, journals can also use promotion to attract new submissions and maintain a pool of peer reviewers.
Journals can use promotion to attract submissions by posting calls for papers on social media channels and by sending scheduled emails to past authors. Author emails can be used to solicit papers for special issues and to send yearly follow ups to those who’ve contributed quality articles, thanking them for their contributions and encouraging them to submit in the future.
As in the case of soliciting submissions via social media, journals can also use Twitter, Facebook, and other outlets to solicit peer reviewers. Additionally social media can be used as a way to thank reviewers. Journals that post annual reviewer recognition listings can share their lists on Twitter or Facebook to expand their reach.
By embracing independent journal promotion, such as journal social media profiles, you’ll be able to not only draw researchers’ attention to your articles but to spur conversations around them and your journal’s field. To encourage such conversations be sure to take the time to interact with the people on your social platforms by sharing and commenting on the content that others post. Diversifying your journal’s online promotion to include discipline-wide news and best practices in addition to publication announcements will make your outlets much more vibrant and useful for authors and reviewers. Additionally, taking the time to explore what others are dicussing online can be a positive networking opportunity for your editors.
What steps are you taking to independently promote your journal? Do you have plans for the future or questions about the best place to start? Please share your thoughts in the comments section!