How to be a Journal Social Media Editor

Drawing on more than 5 years of experience as Social Media Editor for the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, I hereby present an amateurish manifesto in two parts. Feel free to ignore it.
Version 1 (copy & paste from an email I sent on 7 December 2016)
Twitter is a hungry beast. IJMHN will feed it daily with scheduled Tweets promoting its papers/authors. IJMHN will be cautious about entering into conversation with individuals, and is unlikely to retweet much at all, other than an occasional RT of ACMHN tweets. The IJMHN’s standing as a peer-reviewed journal will not be compromised. The often-too-long-to-Tweet journal article titles will stripped of most of their jargon, and rephrased in accessible language that will readily understood by most clinicians and consumers. The goal is to make Tweets engaging and shareable, in the hope that it will drive more traffic to individual papers. 
Facebook will require less active input. About once a fortnight/month will be about right. Rationale = people generally have their social life on Facebook: occasional posts from a work-related site on an individual’s feed will be tolerated, too many posts would likely be construed as intrusive risking the “Like” button being deactivated.
The advantage of SoMe is that it’s all on public view. Feedback from other members of the IJMHN Board will be invited in the New Year.

Key Performance Indicators for a Journal Social Media Editor

Version 2 (in preparation for handing-over the social media editor role at the end of 2022)

First things first. Get your head around these three ways to use social media:

Personal Use.
Personal use of social media is where you share photos of your holidays with family and friends on services like Facebook or Instagram. You may engage in conversations with friends, strangers or public figures, but you will not be representing your profession or an organisation when you do so.
Professional Use.
Professional use of social media is based on your area of expertise and interests. This use of social media is when you share information with and interact with other individuals and organisations that have the same interests. Like you do at work, you will occasionally share aspects of your personal life, but you will be boundaried and cautious re this.
Official Use.
Official use of social media is where an organisation presents their brand and shares information online. @IJMHN = the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing on Twitter, for instance. Official use of social media will have a different tone and goal to personal or professional use of social media.

A Journal Social Media Editor’s personality and opinions take a backseat when they are driving the brand and content of the journal. Your performance is as public as your social media posts. Your key performance indicators (KPIs) are not a matter of opinion, they are quantitative (see below).

Twitter is a hungry beast. Feed twice daily.

Schedule tweets so that the journal’s Twitter account is as steady and reliable as a metronome.

For the majority of my time as Journal Social Media Editor I used the free version of Hootsuite to schedule Tweets. Mid-2021 the features I was accessing for free became available only to paid Hootsuite subscribers, so I switched to Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck has been fine, but you may want to see what other platforms are out there.

The content of the Tweets achieves interest, not random timing.

As the Social Media Editor of the journal you have a regularly updated library of the journal’s content at your disposal – that’s where the interest lies.

Unless you can find a way to get paid for achieving nothing tangible, a tweet without a link to an article is a poor return on your investment of time. Your primary KPI is the Altmetric Attention Score (more about that below), everything else is aesthetics. How much time do you want to spend on aesthetics each week/month/year?  

This Tweet below is a vanity Tweet. It might provide a transient frisson of feel-goodness, but it has all the nutritional and health benefits of fairy floss. It’s a rare distraction, not a regular thing.

One Sunday each month schedule tweets using these self-explanatory hashtags: #20YearsAgo #FromTheArchives @IJMHN Volume… & #10YearsAgo #FromTheArchives @IJMHN Volume… browse the 10/20 year old issue that most-closely corresponds with the current month, and select the most interesting/controversial titles, eg:

Be open to spotting patterns/trends, and sharing insights you stumble across. There won’t be many people keeping as close an eye on IJMHN articles as you. eg:

Schedule a run of Tweets to coincide with each new bimonthly issue, eg:

Keep an eye out for international days that have social media campaigns, and align articles with them if you can. eg:

If your journal also serves as the book of abstracts for a professional society, align the journal’s tweets with the society’s conference using the conference hashtag, eg:


I took over the Social Media Editor role late in 2016. It took until July 2021 to get access to the journal’s Facebook page. That’s a ridiculous delay, but as far as KPIs go it’s not such a big deal.

Facebook posts to a public page (not a personal account) attain a smaller Altmetric Attention Score than a Tweet. It plays a part in meeeting your KPI, but only a small part.

I’ve been using Facebook as an avenue to promote new open access articles primarily. That keeps the volume of posts fairly low, which I think is an important consideration if we don’t want to alienate Facebook followers. Why? Individual’s Facebook pages are primarily used for sharing photos, stories and other aspects of their personal life. If work-related info swamps this people will tend to unfollow or mute the page. Less is more.


After being the ugly-duckling of social media for many years, in the last couple of years LinkedIn has become a platform that is worthwhile using. I say this with confidence because of looking at referral data for the blog. LinkedIn never used to generate any significant traffic to before 2018. Since 2020 it has become the 4th largest referral source (behind Google, Twitter and Facebook).

Use LinkedIn the same way you use Facebook. Use your time efficiently and just copy and paste the same content. If you have the time/patience to tag the authors on LinkedIn that’s fair enough, BUT it won’t help you meet your KPI. LinkedIn does not generate an Altmetric score at all.


Forget it.

Insta is a visual platform and most journal articles are visually boring. Also, Insta posts don’t carry links, nor does Insta affect the Altmetric score (your KPI). Forget instagram.

Traps to Avoid
You will receive requests from people, including people on the editorial board/related organisations, to share info on their behalf (eg: recruiting for their projects etc). Ignore them all. That’s not the Social Media Editor’s job. How could you possible pick what’s ‘worthy’ of promoting and what isn’t? Also, it does not meet any of your KPIs. Forget it.
Don’t quarantine time to do social media stuff alone. Since January 2017 every Tweet, Facebook post and LinkedIn update has been written and scheduled on my ipad while I’ve been listening to music, half-watching TV (shows my partner likes, but I don’t), or filling-in time during the ad-breaks while watch sport on TV. Scheduling a social media post is not brain science or rocket surgery, it doesn’t require your undivided attention.   
Don’t get involved in an argument you can’t hope to win. Every now and then someone will respond to your social media post negatively. That’s fine. Just let it sit there. They are not talking to you the Journal Social Media Editor, they are talking to the author(s) of the journal article. It is not for you to defend or respond.
Things to Enjoy
This is a bit sad, but I’ve trained myself to get a little dopamine hit every time I “discover” a new article via Early View. I only check when it’s a good time for me: while on holidays I might not check for a few weeks, but otherwise I’ll have a sneak-peek every day or so when I’m not doing anything else especially important.

Enjoy the articles too. Unless you’re super-geeky you’re not going to read every word of every article, but you’ll read every abstract. You’ll look for, and find, insightful quotes, interesting data, and inspiring themes. Enjoy.

Opportunities to Explore

Social media platforms come and go. It will be surprising if the platforms being used in 2022 will have the same weight and functionality that they will in five years time. Stay flexible.

Blog posts present a relatively easy 3 points on the Altmetric Attention Score. At time of writing, and all remain available URLs. Setting up a basic website/blog takes minimal funding and expertise. Journal article authors could be invited to write a plain-language summary of the article together with a visually appealing dit of data and/or an author photo. Suggestion: if you do go down this path, make sure that the site will be compatible with embedding the Altmetric badge (for more info follow the button in the top-right corner here: That – at time of writing – means avoiding the most-readily-available/user-friendly wordpress platform.

Something I’ve thought about, but never sought opinion/permission from the editorial board, is emailing article authors at time of publication with tips on promoting their article via social media. That’s what I had in mind when I made the video below. The video is a bit too smart-arsey in tone and amateur in production for use, I reckon, especially considering that most authors for the IJMHN are not Australian and may not understand/could be offended by the irreverence/humour.

Primary KPI
The primary key performance indicator (KPI) for the success of failure of the social media strategy is via altmetric, as articulated in this journal article. Read up on how the Altmetric Attention Score is calculated – as the journal’s social media editor you’ll probably know and care it more than anyone else in the editorial board – do what you can to share the enthusiasm. I suggest gathering and reporting on the pre- and post- data to see what impact your strategies are having.
Secondary KPIs include
The number of social media interactions
The number/relevance of current social media platforms

The popularity of specific social media platforms will rise and fall over time: is the journal keeping up?

Similar question with different wording: Is altmetric measuring data from platforms that the journal is not using? If so, that’s a good indication that the journal is not keeping up.
The annual Impact Factor ?

There is debate in the literature on whether social media interaction leads to more citations. Do a search for yourself and stay abreast of contemporary data.

To my way of thinking if you were doing a thorough literature search, whether or not an article(s) had been shared on social media wouldn’t make much of a difference. I guess that the reality is that not every literature search will be thorough, and – thorough or not – what is cited in an any given article on a topic will rarely be 100% complete. If you accept those arguments as being plausible, would it not also be plausible that an article that already attracted a lot of attention would be more likely to come to the attention of researchers/authors?

But anyway, don’t rely on my arguments about plausibility. See if you can find contemporary evidence one way or another – fair dinkum stuff with a control group and quantitative data, not the namby-pamby opinions of a bloke with a blog (me).  
So What?
Look, being a Journal Social Media Editor won’t create world peace, rid the planet of poverty and starvation, or solve climate change. However, if the research and innovations your journal publishes contribute to the world being a better place, you will play an important role in amplifying the reach and readership of that work.

I’m pretty sure I’m the only person on the editorial board of IJMHN who does not have a PhD. If you’re capable and confident with using social media in an offical way, becoming a Journal Social Media Editor can add a bit of oomph to your curriculum vitae.

The main reward for being a Journal Social Media Editor for me was the knowledge acquired from the discipline of perusing all published research in my speciality’s main journal for the last 5 years. Some of my peers are doing great work; it is inspiring to read about it as soon as it’s published. Of course there are some subjects of research that don’t excite me much, but even skim-reading those articles looking for a tweetable quote has been informative and enlightening.


Too long; didn’t read? Fair enough.

In the grand tradition of see one, do one, teach one, just have a look at these sites instead:


What would you do different if you had your hands on those accounts? You should do that then, and see how it goes. 🙂

Further Reading (an embarrassingly self-referential, but mercifully short, reference list)

McNamara, P. (2017), Cairns Nurse on Journal Editorial Board

McNamara, P. & Usher, K. (2019), Share or perish: Social media and the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 28(4), pp. 960-970

McNamara, P. (2022) Mental Health Nursing making an impact

McNamara, P. (2022), Happy anniversary IJMHN. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 31(4), pp. 767-771


Feel free to ignore this amateurish manifesto. I’m only writing it as a starting point, a handover-of-sorts, to the next IJMHN Social Media Editor.
As always, your feedback is invited in the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 22 September 2022

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