This year at the 2022 Why the World Needs Anthropologists Conference titled “Why the World Needs Creator Anthropologists.” During my presentation, I shared my passion for increasing the visibility and credibility of anthropology, which is unfortunately not well-understood or appreciated by the public.

I acknowledged that anthropology has fallen behind other disciplines, such as economics and psychology, when it comes to media coverage and public interest. However, I proposed a potential path forward for us to take immediate action to increase our visibility and credibility: digital content marketing.

I urged my audience to become “creator anthropologists” by leveraging digital content such as blogs, podcasts, videos, and social media to share our knowledge and engage with a broader audience. I emphasized the importance of creating content that is accessible to the public and free to access.

To encourage everyone to take action, I challenged them to set yearly goals for contributing to a discipline-wide content marketing strategy. These goals include publishing one blog and one op-ed per month, guest speaking on one podcast per quarter, and giving two high-profile talks at non-anthropological events such as industry conferences.

If we all work together to become creator anthropologists, we can substantially increase our visibility and credibility and catch up to our peers on the web. As more people rely on digital platforms for news and information, we must use these platforms to share our important work with a wider audience.

Thank you to the team at WWNA 2022 for allowing me to share my ideas and to all the creator anthropologists out there who are making a difference in our discipline and beyond.

Watch the Video

Read the Transcript

0:00:00.5 Matt Artz: Hi, everyone. I’m Matt Artz.


0:00:03.4 S2: I’m an anthropologist and creator of the Anthropology in Business and Anthro to UX podcasts. My professional work is in the tech sector at the intersection of UX and product management, but that is not what I’m talking about today. I’m here because like you, I’m passionate about increasing to visibility and credibility of anthropology, and I think we need be honest with ourselves and admit. Anthropology is in a dire situation, the majority of the public doesn’t understand what it is, most organizations don’t appreciate its value, new seats rarely invite anthropologists to be talking heads, and universities are shutting down departments. Now, I’m not interested in harping on these points, but we should recognize that we have fallen behind other disciplines that often get a seat at the table, take for example, anthropology, economics and psychology.


0:00:54.1 Matt Artz: Sure, many of you have a hunch that scholars and practitioners, some of the latter through disciplines, I’ve been invited to speak on the news or write high profile opens with greater frequency than anthropologists, and if you had that hunch, you would likely be… Correct, a quick search on Google for news articles offers a stark contrast, there’s 444 million hits for Economics, 118 million hits for Psychology, but only 39 million hits for anthropology, and we see similar results when it comes to the public or gray, using Google Trends to look at searches, you can see that psychology and economics for pay, searches for Anthropology. Now, I appreciate that both are relatively dirty ways of gauging interest in Anthropology, and without a doubt there is room for ever, but given the Delta so large, I think we need to ask ourselves, How did we get here and what do we can do about it? Imposing those questions, I’m not covertly looking to blame previous generations, I don’t think critique for the sake of it is that helpful. I think it’s instructor first discuss how we fell behind other disciplines and learn from the past, but more importantly, I think it’s important we have a plan to go forward and reclaim our place in the public imagination, and so in design anthropology, I’m interested in participating together to develop possible paths forward so that we may intervene and re-claim seat at the table.


0:02:16.4 Matt Artz: And so that’s why I’m here today. I’d like to propose one potential path forward for us to discuss, just by no means perfect and alone, it isn’t that sufficient, but it’s something we can start doing immediately with little effort and a low cost.


0:02:30.8 S2: What I’m proposing is that we leverage the techniques of digital content marketing to increase the visibility and credibility of our discipline, be IT blogs, podcasts and videos or other forms of digital content. I argue we need to engage in the social exchange of knowledge in a way that can reach a broader audience by leveraging the affordances of the internet. Ensure. I’m asking you to be creator anthropologists. Now, I appreciate that you may be asking how that differs from more current efforts and to that I would argue there are at least two main differences, first, the intended audience is typically different, and thus the content is going to be different, the goal of a content marketing effort should be to increase the reach and consumption of the content specifically outside of the discipline, the second reason it differs is it intentionally involves exchanging free content to build a relationship with a target market, and in this case, I argued the target market needs to be the public at large, and the content needs to be free and not behind a paywall, so to be clear, I’m not suggesting that we stop publishing academically, I’m just saying that we need to take that content and reframe it for a broader audience when we only publish in academic mediums, especially when as written in academic speak, we came to our discipline disservice by not sharing our knowledge with the broader public in a way that meets them where they are.


0:03:53.7 S2: So Delta E, My point, let me share a bit about my work in August 2018, I published my graduate thesis on consumer genetics, it was published in the university library, it has never been cited and has only been viewed 537 times, but when I reframe that content, I got a very different outcome. Most notably, my TEDx talk from March 2020 currently has 104000 views and 3000 likes on Ted dot com. And my related blogs have another couple thousand views on my site, furthermore, I was also invited to speak on health, business and entertainment podcast as a result of the research, and though I don’t have stats on those, I can say with certainty that it helped spread the good word of anthropology. So imagine a world where we all partake in content marketing, even for a minimal amount of time per year, if we could all generate traffic anthropological content, especially content targeted to the public at large, we could substantially increase our visibility and credibility. So as my final point, I want to propose a challenge for you all, I want to ask every one of you to set some yearly goals for contributing to a discipline-wide content marketing strategy, I’d like you all to publish one blog, one op-ed per month, guest speak on one podcast per quarter and give two high-profile talks at non-anthropological events such as an industry conference.


0:05:17.5 S2: In all cases, I want you to publish that content on whatever social network you most frequent used and work to build an audience outside of our discipline. Finally, I want you to amplify the work of other anthropologists on social media so that we can leverage the network effects to get our important content in front of as many non-anthropologists as possible, if we can all do this together, we can begin to catch up to our peers on the web, and though our representation on the web is only one small part of what needs to be done, it is important whether we like it or not, for a Pew Research reported in 2021, more than eight and 10 US adults say they get news from smartphone, computer or tablet often, and I want us to be in the news they are getting… So again, I ask you to join me and become a creator anthropologist, our discipline, businesses and even personal lives greatly benefit from it.


0:06:18.2 Matt Artz: Thank you for listening and thanks to the great team that puts on the conference and all the work you do as creator anthropologists.