Archive for June 28

Getting the most out of social media – Facebook

Social media is still a relatively young technology in the context of scholarly communications, with many organisations still trying to find the right way to maximise the strengths of the most popular networks. If you’re still finding your way in social media, there are a few simple – yet often overlooked – tactics that can make the difference between making a conversation spark or fizzle.

 

Facebook’s immense popularity – with roughly one in seven people worldwide maintaining a profile – means that it’s often the first port of call when building a social media strategy. But are you making the most of your followers’ connection with your brand?

 

One of the defining factors of Facebook is that, in most cases, people tend to use the site as a respite from professional life. That’s not to say that content aimed at ‘the day job’ doesn’t gain traction, as there are countless journals and learned societies that do a great job of engaging their audience through Facebook. Rather, it’s a question of choosing the right stories to feature.

Put simply, the content on Facebook that gets the most traction is that which generates an emotional reaction, whether that’s a gasp of admiration, laughter at a punch line, or a grin of acknowledgement as people interact with a story that impresses them. Announcing the publication of a new journal issue might not get those reactions from your followers, but putting a spotlight on a ground-breaking article, challenging opinion, or thoughtful editorial piece within tends to increase re-posts and comments – extending that post’s reach beyond direct followers. (Unsurprisingly, posts relating to serious society/company business – aside from conferences and other events – tend to generate significantly fewer interactions.)

 

Tone of voice is also an important consideration. All too many organizations use the same uniform tone across all communication channels, but the personal touch is far more appropriate in social media. Whereas a brochure or email campaign might need to speak for your organization as a whole, keeping a light-hearted, conversational tone in Facebook posts will make them feel less like a one-way broadcast and more like part of a conversation – which is the precise strength of social media. Don’t be afraid to add some personality to your organisation’s Facebook posts!

 

If your social media strategy needs a further boost, TBI can help with anything from communications audits to staff training. Melinda and Charlie have also written about how to integrate social media in a campaign communications mix to achieve optimum results.

SSP round-up – what’s lighting the scholarly publishing touchpaper?

Many of you will have been at the Society for Scholarly Publishing annual conference in San Francisco earlier this month. The conference seems to have taken on a new lease of life in recent years, with a growing number of delegates, and an increasingly substantial program (props to program chairs Jocelyn Dawson and Emilie Delquié for a job well done). Of course, much of the business of a conference is also transacted in the discussions that take place in, around and beyond the conference venue – at the dinners, receptions, and even (thanks to jetlag?) the surprisingly buzzy breakfast meetings. So, like all good conferences, SSP passed in something of a blur, but it’s interesting for me to take a step back a week or so later and think about the key points that have remained with me:

Closing the loop was the theme of Tim O’Reilly‘s opening keynote; I think it’s fair to paraphrase it as “using data and technologies to enrich products / services and make them work better”. He gave a myriad of examples of what he means by this, from Google’s driverless car to distributed peer review of open source software. He laid down the gauntlet for the assembled publishers – how can we reinvent some of the more dated aspects of our ecosystem (think Impact Factors, peer review) to make better use of available data and technologies? While throwing out suggestions such as Wikipedia-style revision control, Tim also made the point that scholarly publishers could make more of the  opportunities offered by being closer to their markets than some other (trade) publishers (a drum TBI has been banging for a while with our talks on advocacy and relationship marketing – and indeed, I gave a talk on “getting closer to customers” at SSP the following day). He also picked up on the notion that, as we evolve to become more service-oriented, publishers begin to look more and more like societies – so we have a lot to learn from each other. In short, said Tim, publishers need to take seriously the obligation to reinvent the world of information dissemination.

Much of this reminded me of the talk given by David DeRoure at the recent ORCID–Dryad Symposium on Research Attribution, in which he talked about “the social machine” – in which big data comes together with social technologies (and people’s use of them) to overcome past obstacles in creative, intelligent, joined-up ways. If I’ve understood both speakers correctly, then “the social machines” David talked about are examples of “closing the loop”! – and both very inspirational for publishers. Check out David’s slides on Slideshare (“2066 and all that“).

Having heard Tim O’Reilly open the conference, everything else I said and heard there seemed to be shaped by or interpreted within the context of closing the loop. Talks about standards – such as that given by Ringgold‘s Jay Henry, in which he made a well-supported plea for standards such as ORCID to be better used, even mandated, by publishers – seemed to fit well with this theme. O’Reilly’s reference to Eric Ries’ “minimum viable product” also seemed to capture the zeitgeist, with many publishers seeing this as a way to make the most of (seemingly minimal) product development budgets and pursue more innovative approaches to everything from discoverability to video (O’Reilly – again – referenced Lynda.com‘s $70m video training business: “Take video seriously,” he said. “Take small units of video very seriously.” – and of course several publishers are, with Elsevier and IOPP among many who have reported significant increases in content usage driven by video abstracts).

Finally, of course, it’s not just publishers who need to / are innovating – an excellently curated panel session on MOOCs, with a set of speakers from different departments / roles at Stanford University, providing a fascinating insight into what institutions are doing to reinvent themselves and reach wider audiences. I enjoyed hearing that Stanford has appointed a Vice-Provost for Online Learning whose mission, among other things, is to “unleash creativity and innovation in online learning”. An aspiration for all of us, perhaps!

There’s an Open Access buzz – but where’s the carrot?

I gave an introduction to Open Access at a UKSG seminar in London last week and one major issue jumped out for me. Open Access (OA) may have been around for some time but buzz around this topic has suddenly taken off. The conversation isn’t confined to list serv chatter either; it has reached the national news in the UK and US. But it’s very top-heavy discussion. Let me explain….

Policy makers across the world are issuing directives and funding bodies are responding with mandates that ensure research they support is made Open Access.

But what of the researchers themselves? Where is the grassroots response? Well, the Cost of Knowledge boycott against Elsevier shows perhaps they do care in principle. But you couldn’t say uptake of Open Access is rocketing. Research shows that authors are more concerned with the speed of publication, standard of peer review and citations or impact of the journal; and are worried about plagiarism, predatory publishers, myths about poor peer review and the perception of the value of their work being affected. And this brings me to my point, there is a lot of ‘stick’ out there to compel researchers to publish via Gold Open Access or deposit their article in a repository (Green OA) but there’s not a lot of ‘carrot’.

There is an opportunity for publishers, librarians and service providers to support authors with OA and help them get the recognition they want for their work. There are some very simple ways to enhance the author experience, such as the author feature in Bone & Joint.

In the UK the RCUK mandate hasn’t yet shown a huge sea of change in how researchers publish their work, so it will be interesting to see the response that the White House Directive gets in the US and how Horizon 2020 will effect the EU. I’m not holding my breath though; OA uptake for Nature Communications actually fell from 60% to 30% in 2013, so it may take some time. Of course we also mustn’t forget that not all researchers are influenced by funding agencies: In fact, in a recent OASPA survey only 23% humanities & social science authors said they have research council funding. So am I waiting in vain? Perhaps it will just take time before a fleet of authors thirsty for OA appears over the horizon?