5 Academic Societies that are acing their online content strategy—Powerful tools revealed

We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.” said Craig Davis, the former Chief Creative officer, J. Walter Thomspon, and this is the mantra for content marketing today. Any brand, whether it’s a commercial entity or an academic society, that wishes to build, scale, and sustain itself will need to address its audiences using content.

One of the key challenges faced by scholarly societies includes effectively leveraging the rich content that they have across digital and social platforms, to attract, engage, and retain their core audiences. We will examine some interesting cases where scholarly societies have adapted their content for delivery across digital and social formats.

For instance, American Chemical Society’s podcast Stereo Chemistry is about chemistry news with a focus on the chemists behind it. In addition, they have a blog called ACS Axial which provides ideas, insights, and advice from the scientific community.

It has also been observed that academic societies like the Academy of Management and the Royal Society of Chemistry use visually appealing media and videos to engage with their authors on different social media platforms.

The important question one must ask then is why scholarly societies are producing so much content using non-conventional methods. The objective behind their powerful content strategy is two-pronged—1) to stay relevant to their readers and 2) for increased visibility. Therefore, the content generated by these leading societies is aimed at creating interest, brand recognition, and author engagement,

It is estimated that 77% of B2B marketers use educational content to enhance brand reputation and awareness. 1Academic Societies with their repository of rich content libraries are likely to find that simplifying their content and making it available to a larger audience will help them reap rewards in terms of audience growth and engagement.

We have listed the top 5 academic societies that are using content marketing strategies to build a community, advance outreach, and engage their audiences.

1. Academy of Management (AOM)

The 21st century introduced two major challenges for AOM, one of the largest publishers in the field of business and management —1) the sheer number of publications and 2) the world was going digital. Despite these challenges, AOM stands tall with its community of 200000+ members across more than 120 countries. So, what still makes them so attractive to the community?

In September 2018, the Academy of Management launched AOM Insights—an online magazine for managers and business leaders featuring easy-to-read summaries derived by turning tedious research data into intelligible and actionable information. Leveraging science over speculation, in a time when online content is cluttered with misinformation and confusing opinions by self-proclaimed experts, Insights only features content based on the latest research published in top management journals. But that’s not all—Insights also is a storehouse of powerful management content developed in several engaging and shareable formats, including explainer videos and infographics that can be used in classrooms and boardrooms, and shared on social media.

Figure 1 An example of an infographic created by Impact Science for AOM Insights

These engaging media formats are not just used to accompany their digital magazine summaries but are also repurposed as postcards and fashioned cutouts and disseminated on social media to draw users to their website. Naturally, this led to an increase in readership, as well as online engagement with AOM’s target audience.

John Pescatore, the Director of Publications and Content at AOM says: “Before we had one single piece of content, a journal article that got promoted through social media once. Now we have a journal article that gets promoted to social media and infographic that is aligned with that article or research brief that’s aligned with that article. There’s 300% more content from one single article that we can then use to disseminate not only to our members, but now to our wider audiences.

2. Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)

This 175+ year old chemistry publishing house is known to make heads turn (and we aren’t talking about the RSC bestowing an Honorary Fellowship on the greatest fictional detective of all time, Sherlock Holmes).

Earlier this year, the Royal Society of Chemistry launched a refreshing new campaign that featured a series of short videos aimed at inspiring young adults to pursue careers in chemical science. This campaign has been running on all social networking sites that are popular with the Gen Z—YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. Bold, exciting, and inspirational, not unlike campaigns created by a big commercial brand like Nike, RSC creative strategy has equipped them to draw an audience with a high digital aptitude and a low attention span.

But, once you’ve attracted an audience, how do you keep your readers engaged?

RSC does this in several ways. MyRSC is an online community of 69,000 registered users which is the ultimate destination for chemistry enthusiasts with its wide array of blogs, discussion forums, community groups, resources, and more. Talk Chemistry is an online group that connects chemistry teachers, and includes monthly interactive videos and other resources, tips, and articles that can be easily shared with students. Chemistry World blog is yet another online blog by RSC that covers a range of topics in multiple formats including science news, research updates, podcasts and opinion pieces.

On their main website, RSC has been carefully selecting one article every week for showcase commonly known as “ChemSci Pick of the week”. For greater impact, these top research articles are accompanied by visually-appealing infographics that summarize the entire research paper.

Infographic created by Impact science for the Royal Society of Chemistry

Besides improving the recall for chemistry research, the reads and downloads of articles in this section doubled, in addition to the more traditional impact parameters like citations and Altmetric score. RSC has also partnered with Impact Science to create content in engaging formats like video summaries and special posters on social media and to extend their reach to local markets like China.

3. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. (JBJS)

JBJS—one of the most widely recognized and trusted sources of orthopedic research, is a great example of a brand that quickly adapts its content strategy to stay relevant and keep users engaged. In fact, within three years, The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery increased their online readership from 58% to 74%. JBJS presents content in various formats—clinical summaries, news articles, infographics, and videos to keep busy medical researchers and surgeons up to date with the latest developments. JBJS also collaborated with the Impact Science team to create concise and quick to consume 2-minute animated videos, and visually appealing infographics. The impact of such easily shareable content was tremendous:

  • • 10x increased views for articles with visual content
  • • 5x increase YouTube in video views owing to audio visual summaries
  • • 2.5x increase in YouTube channel subscribers by introducing explainer videos
  • • 90% of JBJS Twitter favorites retweeted
  • • Infographic showcased in the Sunday Times
  • • Interest from commercial sponsors
Here’s an example of an infographic created for JBJS

In any research, providing quick visibility to new developments is essential to make faster progress in the right direction. Therefore, JBJS has created OrthoBuzz—a microsite which acts like a digital content hub for Orthopaedic Surgeons and researchers with curated news and information on the latest developments. Optimized for discoverability online, it helps manage and engage a community gained through leads on this site. In a study by JBJS, it was found that “in addition to their computers, surgeons also use smartphones and tablets for checking formulary schedules, communicating with patients, reading journals and seeking orthopaedic information.3Accordingly, JBJS has ensured that their content is optimized for a number of different devices and channels. With useful monthly newsletters, site features like ‘Editor’s Choice’, ‘Practice Trends and Tips’, and ‘Need to Know’, JBJS has identified the best way to communicate with their digital audience and leveled up their content strategy.

4. American Chemical Society (ACS)

More than 50% of Americans ages 12 and older have listened to a podcast, and podcast listeners are also highly likely to complete an entire episode. 4Therefore, it’s not surprising that this engagement format is being quickly adopted by digital marketers globally. Podcasts are easy to listen to and mostly free. For some, it’s a morning ritual that begins with a voice command sent to an IoT device, and for others, these audio series are a great travel companion. One of the largest and oldest societies in the U.S.—The American Chemical Society knows and embraces this opportunity to connect with their community. They use podcasts extensively in their marketing strategy: 1. Orbitals is a monthly podcast about ‘the molecules that move us’, 2. ACS Science Elements is a weekly podcast series highlighting cutting edge research and scientific news, and 3. Stereo Chemistry is a podcast that creatively packages chemistry news and updates on Amazon Echo for chemistry enthusiasts.

An example of C&EN’s podcast, Stereo Chemistry on Spotify

Adding podcasts to your content strategy can help you reach out to an audience with genuine interest in your subject area, and can educate and motivate enthusiasts to discover more about the topic.

However, in most cases these special content marketing tools are accompanied by more traditional channels like online blogs and community sites. For instance, the podcast Stereo Chemistry is a part of ACS’ digital magazine, Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN). Among other such online assets, ACS Axial is one of the most popular blogs by ACS that provides scientific insight and curated content for a wide range of chemistry fans according to age and experience of the readers, connecting publishers, scientific experts and researchers in the field.

5. European Society of Cardiology (ESC)

With education at the core of their marketing strategy, ESC Education is the hub for the European Society of Cardiology’s main content marketing projects. ESC believes that their lifelong training programs, education tools, and learning content must be a reflection of what the community of cardiology professionals actually requires in a rapidly changing world. This comprises of a large collection of online resources, video series, self-paced training, certificate programs, and a wide range of practice tools and support that culminates into an all-encompassing online learning platform, ascribing ECS credibility and visibility in the process.

A snippet of ESC Education

These leading societies have stepped up their game and are using innovative ways to engage their readers. Infographics, videos, podcasts, lay summaries, blogs, a microsite, and social media posts are all powerful tools to engage the reader, increase sales, build trust, and improve visibility. Your unique outreach and engagement goals will help you determine the most suitable tools and strategies for your brand, and therefore, is the first step, to building an effective content marketing strategy.

What is the best content strategy for your publishing house/academic society/journal? Visit https://www.impact.science/publishers-societies/ to know how we, at Impact Science, combine our understanding and love for research, with our expert knowledge of media formats and platforms to deliver comprehensive marketing support for your academic society’s research communication needs.

You can also write to us at request@impact.science and our PhD consultants will connect with you!

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