Write-up on Silverchair Webinar, February 2021

What can scholarly publishers do to engage more readers, attract submissions, and raise awareness of events? “What’s working?” asked TrendMD Director of Partnerships, Bert Carelli, in the recent Silverchair Universe webinar, “Content Marketing for Scholarly Publishers.” Bert invited two experts in scholarly communications to share their thoughts and suggestions: Colleen Scollans, Marketing & Digital Transformation Practice Lead with Clarke & Esposito, and Anand Rao, Science Communicator and Technical Editor for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB).

Colleen kicked off the discussion by defining Content Marketing as “creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”  While the creative use of customer stories, reviews, videos, etc., distributed through blogs, webinars, podcasts, and social media, is standard practice in commercial marketing, it is less used in scholarly publishing, even though publishers have all the core content assets they need to do Content Marketing successfully. By curating, repackaging, and repurposing their own content in ways that are entertaining and educational, publishers have many opportunities to engage their audience and build connection and affinity with their brands.

Colleen advised scholarly publishers to “meet their customers where they are;” choosing the appropriate content and moment to engage - whether the goal is to increase discovery, usage, and citations, or to encourage event sign-ups or author submissions. By the choice of content and the channel to be used, campaigns and initiatives can be tailored to a specific audience segment – whether by role (e.g. grad student, early-career researcher, clinician) institutional affiliation (academic, corporate, government) or by geographic location. Most importantly, when coupled with the appropriate tools, like TrendMD, the natural tendency of readers to share their interests will amplify the message, effectively creating an “army of marketers” for the brand.

Bert explained how TrendMD can be part of this strategy, by using the click behavior of more than 102 million readers per month to help predict those articles most likely to interest the reader.  TrendMD’s Collaborative Filtering technology, which is similar to the way Amazon works, suggests to the reader other articles that similar readers have read. For example, a medical practitioner reading an article in the BMJ on smoking hazards may see recommended articles on lung cancer, while a public health policy specialist may see articles on secondhand smoke, and a biochemical researcher may see articles on tumor formation.

Anand showed a couple of case studies of how a creative approach to content marketing can translate into specific programs and practical applications. For example, ASBMB’s “Methods Madness” contest in 2020 channeled the excitement of the “March Madness” NCAA basketball tournament into a successful campaign to highlight and drive traffic to “Methods and Resources” articles in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC.) The Twitter-based competition, modeled on the bracket format of the tournament, was enthusiastically embraced by young scientists, who teamed up to promote the hashtags of their favorite lab methods, competing to see which methods would make it to the “Final Four,” and which one would ultimately be crowned “Champion.”

TrendMD was used to promote “Methods” articles in the JBC, driving clicks and impressions. Excitement built over the course of the tournament, with great engagement in labs from all over the world. Articles and text messages about the tournament were tweeted nearly 2,000 times, with over 5.3 million potential impacts, 810 individual contributors and a projected economic value of nearly $10,000. Total methods articles published by the JBC increased 44% in 2020 over 2019. By the way, if you want to participate in this year’s “Methods Madness” tournament, voting will close March 14, 2021!

A recording of the full webinar is available here.