Reach out and get social

Consistently attracting great content to your journal, having high readership levels, and steadily climbing up in the traditional impact and citation metrics are often the payoff of a well-run, well-established journal.  But even the highest ranking journals by your metric of choice can do more to boost their reach and generate “buzz,” as Fred Shapiro and Michelle Pearse describe it in “The Most-Cited Law Review Articles of All Time” (p. 1517).  The next few posts will discuss some ideas.

When Facebook was in junior high

When I was the editor of the University of Florida Journal of Law & Public Policy in 1997 we may have had a static webpage, but the most social of all media at our disposal was a printed newsletter that was mailed or e-mailed to a group of folks who were likely former journal members.  The Facebook founders were probably in junior high at the time.  Fast forward to 2013, where 72% of adults who are online are using social media, according to the latest Pew Internet and American Life Statistics.  In this non-static digital environment will your current readers be able to find your journal online and engage with it socially?  How about potential new readers who won’t stumble upon your content in a subscription database?  What’s your journal’s plan for engaging this diverse and expansive online audience?

Plan your social media

A good first step is to develop a simple social media marketing plan.  If you don’t already have a journal member in charge of social media, appoint one, or consider creating a new board position to stay on top of it.  Some other resources:

  • Click through this brief 2012 SlideShare presentation by Duncan MacRae, Managing Editor of Neurosurgery: “Social Media: A Case Study.”  It demonstrates the minimal effort involved in driving traffic to your journal’s website.
  • The social marketing strategy used by a nonprofit scientific journal publisher is presented in this 23-minute YouTube video, “Social Tools and Academic Publishing” (2012).  Alan Cann of the University of Leicester is the Internet Consulting Editor for the Annals of Botany (published since 1887).  Cann observes that the “journal” has lost relevance as readers primarily seek content at the article level.  For this journal’s survival it became necessary to use social tools to engage new audiences as traditional print audiences fade.  Sound familiar?
Book illustration, man selling books which he carries in a basket, Carracci, Annibale, 1560-1609, artist, from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

Book illustration, man selling books which he carries in a basket, Carracci, Annibale, 1560-1609, artist. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. Retrieved from

In developing your social marketing plan, be sure to include the general public as part of your target audience.  And stay tuned to this blog for ways that your journal can make its scholarship more accessible to lay readers.

Ask a librarian

If your university has a business school, then it likely has a wealth of social media marketing books and digital resources.  Google LibGuide “social media marketing” for lists of useful resources and see what is available through your library.  Your law library liaison or the university’s social media librarian (if it has one!) can also be a great source of help.


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