Business of Academic PublishingSocial Media Outreach

From Goals to Execution: How Research Publishers and Societies Can Align Social Media and Organizational  Goals

Type in “social media strategy” into the search engine of your choice and you will be greeted with innumerable articles on why businesses need a social media strategy. However, you will find fewer on why scholarly publishers, universities, and research societies need one. More crucially, there are scant details on implementing a social media strategy for members of the scholarly community.

Social media has changed greatly from the days of MySpace and Friendster. It’s no longer considered a frivolous distraction, as just about every brand not only has a social media presence, but also expends considerable time and money to carefully cultivate their brand image on social media.

However, a “build it and they will come” strategy is not a sure winner in the crowded social media marketplace, where each account is jockeying for the limited attention of users. Furthermore, since your social media presence will often be the first place the public will encounter your organization, it is vital to ensure that the image of your organization presented on social media is congruent with your organizational goals.

Staying competitive in the digital age: Why publishers and societies need a social media strategy

 For publishers and societies, a strong social media presence can drive engagement, build brand awareness, and increase reach. In this section, we explore why having a social media strategy is crucial for these organizations.

To reach new audiences

A key goal of scholarly societies and publishers is promoting their field of research. By leveraging social media platforms, societies and publishers can engage with a wider demographic of individuals who may be interested in their research or publications. Through targeted content creation, such as sharing research highlights, news, and educational content, research societies and publishers can capture the attention of these individuals. Social media also provides opportunities for organic or paid promotion, enabling these brands to amplify their reach and engage with users beyond their existing followers. Additionally, social media can facilitate collaborations with influencers, industry experts, or other organizations, leading to cross-promotion and exposure to new audiences.

To drive engagement with research

It’s becoming difficult to count just how many scholarly papers are published each year, but it remains true that most will receive very few citations in the increasingly crowded information marketplace. A social media strategy can help overlooked publications become known to the wider research community. Social media allows for a variety of rich content formats, such as infographics and videos, which can make a research study accessible and engaging to a wide variety of audiences, including laypersons and researchers in other fields.

To understand trends in your audience and research

Social media is not just about putting out your voice; it’s also about taking input from your audience. Audience engagement trends, comments, and messages from readers can all guide you towards understanding the content they would like to see, allowing you to formulate new plans to meet current trends and get the best return on your invested time.

To create a sense of community for your brand

Social media can foster a vibrant community for research societies or research publishers by providing a platform for engagement, networking, and knowledge sharing. Through social media, these brands can share updates on their latest research findings, upcoming events, and publications, creating a sense of excitement and community among their followers. Moreover, social media enables research societies and publishers to highlight the achievements of their members, acknowledge their contributions, and celebrate milestones, building a sense of pride and loyalty within the community.

See also: The Importance of Storytelling in Brand Building for Research Societies

Creating a strategy that is aligned with your goals

Define your goals

Project management professionals are familiar with the mnemonic SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) at some point. As a society or publisher too, it is vital to ensure that your social media goals are SMART and that each parameter has been clearly defined before moving forward. This includes ensuring that your posts are congruent with your brand image and long-term goals. For instance, if the overall organizational goal is to increase brand awareness, your social media goal could be to increase the number of your followers on X platform by a certain percentage over Y time period.

Select relevant channels

Facebook might be a great platform for much of the world, but it is banned in China. In China WeChat is the indisputable king of social media applications; meanwhile, it is rarely used outside of China and overseas Chinese communities. The topic of selecting a platform is too large to cover in depth here, but it is crucial to decide your target demographic(s) and then decide the platform that best captures their attention.

See also: What Twitter’s Newly Revealed Algorithm Means for Your Online Presence

Develop a content strategy

A distinct strategy for content is vital. It outlines what content you will post, why it will be posted, and how it will be created and distributed. This strategy will serve as the roadmap for executing your social media campaigns.

Engage with the audience

Responding proactively to audience engagement can provide a positive feedback loop, wherein your positive reactions to their comments can drive further engagements, making it more likely that the audience will return. This greater engagement helps you achieve your goals by allowing your audience to speak up and provide with you with more information on their preferences, thus allowing you to better target their peers.

Monitor and re-evaluate

Virtually all social media platforms have a dashboard for checking your metrics, including impressions, engagements, and conversions. Even better, there are dashboard platforms that allow you to coordinate campaigns across multiple platforms. Using these tools can help you understand where your efforts are making the most impact. For example, if you notice that engagements for video content are much higher than those for your articles, it may be worth revising the content strategy to better meet audience needs.

Five social media goals for societies and publishers

As mentioned before, goals are crucial. Here are five goals that can be applied in a SMART manner and easily monitored using the built-in metrics from social media platforms.

Raise brand awareness

Raising brand awareness is all about impressions. By providing easy, shareable content with your branding, more people can become aware of your brand, even if they do not directly engage.

Drive website traffic and improve engagement with content on your homepage

Research societies and publishers need to drive website traffic to increase engagement, expand their online presence, and ultimately promote their research findings or publications to a wider audience. To drive website traffic and increase engagement with your homepage content through social media, you can provide links to your most important articles, courses, events and more along with attractive images and copy. You can measure the impact by checking your click-through rates and use those insights to guide future changes.

Generate leads

By creating compelling content, offering valuable resources, and utilizing lead generation forms or landing pages, you can generate potential leads. You can also engage in direct interactions with users, conduct surveys or polls, and utilize social media advertising to capture user information.

Increase mailing list signups

A mailing list might be old technology, but it remains an effective way of drawing attention to events, seminars, and important articles. By including a mailing list with engaging content, you can directly contact your audience and measure the impact from conversions.

Create a partnership with another organization or thought influencer

Publishers and societies often have overlapping interests with other organizations, such as research societies that serve different countries. Reciprocally sharing each other’s posts can mutually increase your traffic and overall audience size, especially when they are indeed congruent with the values of your organization. Likewise, influencers can provide great opportunities to boost your traffic, provided that such partnerships are carefully considered. These partners can also share their insights and provide clues on how best to engage with audiences.

David Burbridge

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