Earlier this month, Alan J Cann, who is Internet Consulting Editor for Annals of Botany, based out of the University of Leicester Department of Biology gave an excellent presentation on how academic publishers can take advantage of social media tools which we wanted to spotlight here on the blog.

His presentation was delivered at The European Association of Science Editors' (EASE) Triennial Conference and you can see and hear the full talk by watching the video embedded below or reading his blog post. He starts from the familiar premise of publishing as a sector moving from the slow, inflexible and expensive print model to a more content-focused digital model that offers more opportunity for discussion and greater visibility of what 'works' through availability of detailed metrics.

Where his thesis gets really interesting is when he explores how the discussion about published scientific research is increasingly taking place within 'adjacent spaces', often in social media that are linked but not necessarily integrated into the journal or the book form. And as social technologies continue to develop at a rapid pace, publishers need to acquire the skills that will enable them to get involved or even curate these discussions now while anticipating and responding to changes in the future.

To demonstrate how all this can work in action, Alan goes on to describe  the Annals of Botany own social media strategy. Its explicitly low-cost approach has succeeded in extending the reach of the journal through using blogs as hubs for distributing content via RSS, Twitter and Facebook while leveraging emerging tools like Flipboard to facilitate content discovery on new platforms such as tablet computers. By doing all this Annals of Botany is succeeding in addressing new audiences and new demographic groups.

This whole subject is a hot topic in academic publishing at the moment. For example, a recent session at SSP, which brought together a publisher, hosting platform, analytics vendor, and marketer to explore how the inudstry can gather, analyse and act on data from social networks to develop brands, relationships and products was standing-room only. And as with all of these emerging and rapidly developing fields one good practice case study is worth a lot of theory. Alan's video is a real masterclass in how academic publishers can make really creative use of social media. It's well worth a watch.