Dear NANN colleagues,
Social media is becoming the predominant way we keep up with what is going on in the world. Maybe you don't believe this statement is true because you don't have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn account, but it is a true statement. Today, more than 65% of all adults use social media sites; this is up from only 7% in 2005.1 Newspapers, radio, and television were once the leaders in providing us the latest current events and breaking research findings that could change our lives and healthcare choices. However, today, if you want to get the scoop, you need to be connected to social media. Almost all breaking news is shared first on social media, oftentimes hours or days before it hits the television screen, radio airwaves, or newsprint.
So what does this mean for scholarly publication? Publishing your work is often about getting the findings into practice. Getting the message out about your work makes what you do every day have a bigger impact than just the single infant and family who just successfully left the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). These daily successes are important, but what is more important is that the strategies and practices you use to make a difference become routine (the way we do it) so that every infant and family successfully leave the NICU. This means we need to learn from each other and continue to study and build the science of neonatal intensive care.
Publishing good science in scholarly journals is important but what may be even more important is getting the scientific information into everyday communication streams. Today that is social media. This editorial outlines how best to move your scholarly work into social media outlets and how to track your success in a social media world.
Marketing your scholarly work. At a recent nursing leadership conference, a presentation really sparked our interest. Dr Cindy Munro, PhD, RN, FAAN, of the University of South Florida, School of Nursing, shared how she was working with her faculty to market their research and scholarly work. The faculty were using the book Marketing for Scientists: How to Shine in Tough Times by Marc Kuchner to guide their scholarly discussions around increasing the impact of their work.2 Most of us on the frontlines of healthcare don't really think much about marketing; yet, if you are trying to get the strategies you believe will make a difference into mainstream NICU practice arenas, then marketing is important to you. This book is easy to read and provides several great examples about how to move your scholarly work into the hands of decision and policy makers who can allocate resources to take your innovative work and make it available to others.
Interestingly, you are also marketing your work when you present during an in-service in your unit, provide a poster or podium presentation at a conference, or publish a manuscript in a scholarly journal. Yet, are you reaching the audience you intended to reach? Will those in the audience have the ability and or resources to make the changes your work suggests need to be made in the clinical setting? Getting to a bigger audience can be important if you want to change practices or affect policy.
Let us provide a recent example, family integrated care (FiCare) was recently introduced in Canada as a way to increase family engagement in the NICU.3 This group of authors published their findings in several different journals (both nursing and medicine) including 3 articles published in 2013 in Advances in Neonatal Care (ANC).4–6 These authors not only published their work in scholarly journals but also got their work into the mainstream media. It was shared in social networks, as well as on blogs, and at several different conferences and venues. Most neonatal care providers have at least heard of the intervention strategy even if they don't exactly understand what it is or how it could be implemented in their unit. These researchers have also developed their own Web site where you can freely view videos about their project.7 Yet, it is important to know that although their pilot study had many different types of variables, collected from several different vantage points including the infant, families, and healthcare professionals, the initial clinical trial was relatively small, conducted with 40 families and infants in a single Canadian NICU. Parents of infants who fit the inclusion criteria were approached when a bed space was available and were compared with a cohort of matched controls. No randomization occurred. Infants gained weight faster and went home sooner than their matched controls. Using many different avenues, these pilot study results have been shared and that one small study has made a big impact. There are now several more trials being conducted in Canada, the United States, as well as abroad. So the lesson to you is that getting your work out in several different venues can make a difference. We believe marketing did make a difference, although we are unsure how intentional this was for these authors. They got the word out in several different venues, and it has appeared to have made a difference with the uptake of this work. Their work is a good example of how to use scholarly publications, presentations, and social media to further spread innovations.
Increasing the visibility of your work with social media. First, you will need an account in a social media network. If you are going to use the account for both professional and personal postings, be sure to ponder your audience. You might want to consider having 2 separate accounts, one for your personal use and one for your professional use. You might also want to consider how you will title your account and whom you will invite to be your friends (whom you are connected to) within each account. Each account might have different followers, and possibly the followers could be overlapping depending on the types of contact you have with them. Once you have an account, you can begin by making thoughtful posts 2 to 3 times each week. (See Figure 1 for some social media definitions and tips for using social media.) For example, if your research or clinical expertise is related to family-centered care, you can post breaking findings around the topic as they occur. Of your 3 weekly posts, one should be related to your own work and the other 2 should bring in the latest research or clinical practices from other teams. In this way, you can begin a conversation around your topic. Additions from other teams can be found by checking Google Alerts or the table of contents of your favorite journals. If you use the journal Web site, the site often has a sharing link with each article that connects to social media sites so that you can easily post the information. If you use this means for posting, be sure to link the post to your Web page. Once you decide what information you want to post, be sure to add a sentence or two that tells readers why they would want to look into getting more information about this topic. You will want to be intentional about your posting, so take the time to reflect about the story you are trying to tell or the message you want readers to get from checking out your page.
Advances in Neonatal Care has recently created a page on Facebook, and we will soon be creating pages on other social networks. The plan is to also have a Twitter page by the end of 2016. We will automatically be posting ANC articles. So please find and “like” our page so that you will see them on your Facebook feed. Please take the time to comment on the articles you like or find helpful to you work. We especially want authors to “share” their own content on their pages so that we can increase the number of participants in this conversation. This is your opportunity to raise awareness about neonatal content that is important to you. We hope you try it out and share your experiences with us.
Tracking the success of your scholarly work in social media. Tracking the uptake of your work is not just about checking your social media site to see how many “likes” and comments you have received about your post. Tracking is also about how your post is shared, and hopefully shared again, and again. Wolters Kluwer, the publisher for ANC and many other scholarly journals, has adapted Altmetrics as a social network tracking strategy for following how individual articles published in its journals are being viewed on social networking sites. See Figure 2 for where to find the Altmetrics widget on your published article page on the ANC Web site (http://journals.lww.com/advancesinneonatalcare/pages/default.aspx). Although the example is not from ANC, the location is the same on our Web site. Figure 3 provides information about how best to use the Altmetrics widget to understand how your work is being shared on different social networks. You will be able to see a summary of the impact of your work in a social media world, with a list of where it has been shared and how many times it has been shared or commented on by others. You can even click on the widget to get more details about exactly where and by whom your article has been shared and whether there are comments about your work. We encourage you to post your own work and get comments to increase the visibility and impact of your work in a social media world. Sharing your ANC published article can now easily be done right from your ANC article page; on the right side of the page is a share section where if you are logged into Facebook (for example), you can choose to “like” the article and it will be shared on your own Facebook page.
Currently, many authors check to see how often their work has been cited within other scholarly articles to understand the impact of their work. As social media becomes increasingly popular, understanding the impact of your work in another venue may become just as important. We hope you will subscribe to the ANC Facebook page and follow the work of our authors. We encourage you to also comment and share their work on your Facebook page. We are proud of their work and believe it is changing neonatal practices.
Thank you for your support,
Jacqueline M. McGrath, PhD, RN, FNAP, FAAN
Co-Editor; Advances in Neonatal Care
Debra Brandon, PhD, RN, CCNS, FAAN
Co-Editor; Advances in Neonatal Care
2. Kushner MJ. Marketing for Scientists: How to Shine in Tough Times. Washington, DC: Island Press; 2011.
3. O'Brien K, Bracht K, Macdonell K, et al. A pilot cohort analytic study of family integrated care in a Canadian neonatal intensive care unit. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2013;13(suppl 1):S12. doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-S1-S12.
4. Bracht M, O'Leary L, Lee SK, O'Brien K. Implementing family integrated care in the NICU: a parent education and support program. Adv Neonatal Care. 2013;13(2):115–126. doi:10.1097/ANC.0b013e318285fb5b.
5. Macdonell K, Christie K, Robson K, Pytik K, Lee SK, O'Brien K. Implementing family-integrated care in the NICU: engaging veteran parents in the program design and delivery. Adv Neonatal Care. 2013;13(4):262–269. doi:10.1097/ANC.0b013e31829d8319.
© 2016 by The National Association of Neonatal Nurses
6. Galarza-Winton ME, Dicky T, O'Leary L, Lee SK, O'Brien K. Implementing family-integrated care in the NICU: educating nurses. Adv Neonatal Care. 2013;13(5):335–340. doi:10.1097/ANC.0b013e3182a14cde.