UBC Press: Tweets that Count?Posted: Thursday, November 09, 2017
Note: This is part two in a three-part series of posts celebrating University Press Week 2017. For more posts from our university press friends, visit the AAUP's blog tour page.
Written by Megan Malashewsky, Agency & Digital Marketing Coordinator
(Preface: If you’re reading this and not following us on Twitter, leave now and follow @UBCPress. I will wait.)
University presses are in the business of communicating important, often verbose and scholarly, information to a sometimes very targeted audience. It’s what we do, it’s what we do well, and it’s what should remain our core mission as a university press. However, this method of communicating is often in opposition to the goal of social media—to relay quick snippets of information and videos of cats doing things.
Most people would rather scan through social media feeds quickly, often while on the bus, only stopping when something particularly relevant catches their interest. And as the social media giants are aiming for more and more ad revenue, the frustrating reality is that—with Facebook in particular—you must pay to play. The days of organic reach (i.e., the people who like your page actually seeing your posts without some financial intervention) are over.
But at least there’s Twitter.
Despite a certain prolific orange-hued Twitter user (Twittarian? Is there a word for this?), Twitter use is declining. However, because it is favoured by journalists, academics, writers, and other creative types, Twitter is our most successful social media network (based on followers and engagement rates). When I took on our social media feeds a year ago, I inherited a robust Twitter following; through Twitter I am able to quickly reach a large audience. As such, I use it to our Twitter feed to announce new books, events, and news.
More than that, though, I use Twitter to learn about our audience and our authors. As I'm not particularly well-versed in some of the issues important to our readers, Twitter points me towards articles and conversations happening in fields that matter to UBC Press. Twitter allows me to be part of, or at least to observe, conversations happening amongst leaders in our publishing areas (Indigenous law, for example, or gender studies). It’s where online conversations in these disciplines are happening.
By taking the reins of an organization’s Twitter account, I understand that I am representing an entity whose members have varying opinions. As such, it’s not my intention to become an active participant in political discussions. I do, however, value and admire presses that choose to do so. (As an aside: Melville House—@melvillehouse—though not a university press, has one of the most clever and unabashedly political Twitter feeds in publishing, and I greatly admire their humour and candor). Still, as a university press, I believe it’s vital to be aware of the issues, and Twitter helps with this awareness. I appreciate opening my Twitter feed and feeling more “in the know” than I was minutes earlier.
Is Twitter the most important thing a university press does? Yes. No. But if 140 characters (now 280!) inspire someone to pick up a 400-page book about climate change, women’s history, or equity in higher education, I’d say I’ve done my job.
Plus there’s nothing better than a brilliantly-crafted, intelligent and clever Tweet.
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