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Nov 18, 2013 · 9 Replies

Annual Meeting Twitter Activity in 2013: Four Professional Societies

By Matthew Katz, MD @mattkatz

It’s always busy when you attend a professional society annual meeting – attending academic sessions on new research, health policy, educational sessions, networking, catching up with friends, recruiting or job searches, and more.  Increasingly, these interactions are being captured online.

Twitter is great at capturing some of these real-time interactions – so who is using it as a way to share his or her annual meeting experience?

I decided to pull free data from Symplur on four recent professional society meetings with submitted hashtags:  American College of Surgeons (#ACSCC13); American Society of Clinical Oncology (#ASCO13); American Society for Radiation Oncology (#ASTRO13); and the American Urological Association (#AUA13).  I did not filter through carefully to separate out possible other uses of these hashtags, so the results should be taken with a grain of salt.  Because of chatter that often occurs before and after the meeting, I included one week before and two weeks after the meeting itself.  Impressions are measured by the number of tweets multiplied by the number of followers of the person tweeting.

The results are very interesting:

bar graph



Online impressions, 1 week before until two weeks after the meeting

#ASCO13 had dramatically more absolute activity than the other society meetings – over 67 million impressions.  Also important is that the society itself took an active role with 490 tweets during that time period.  As a result, it had 9.8 million impressions in less than four weeks – a lot of attention for ASCO!

Now ASCO is a very big meeting compared to ASTRO – I’ve never attended the other two meetings.  But it has had a significant increase in Twitter use even from past research by Bob Miller.  Part of it is the higher number of people using Twitter.

bar graph

Tweets and participants during the meeting

For ASCO, these all represent significant increases from earlier research looking at 2010-2011 Twitter use.  But from 2012 there was 68%rise in the number of participants from 2239 to 3751.  ASCO staff also got much more active –tweets about the meeting jumped to 490 from just 147 in 2012.

When you look at individual activity, the ACoS and AUA tweeters were more active, averaging seven and eight tweets each, respectively.  ASTRO was similar to ASCO at four versus five per tweeter.

Does that mean ASCO will influence cancer care more than the other meetings?  Not necessarily.  But some research suggesting tweet activity are linked to higher research article citations and downloaded preprints of scientific research.  Twitter may be relevant to how effective professional societies are at sharing research and the organizational mission.

The combined effect of more participants, more activity and more influence gave ASCO a major edge.  But with wider adoption among annual meeting attendees, don’t be surprised if the other three organizations catch up.

More research is needed, and my datamining on Symplur was very broad and simplistic.  But it’s a good way to start a conversation about the value of social media for physicians.  What do you think about Twitter use at academic meetings?

Editor’s Note: Matt Katz, MD is a member of the External Advisory Board for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media.


Tags: Case Studies


Posted by @clairejohnston, Nov 18, 2013

Thanks for pulling this data together, Dr. Katz. There's always more to learn about the meaningful use of Twitter. Exciting times!

Matthew Katz, MD likes this

Posted by @mattkatz, Nov 18, 2013

Thanks for reading, Claire - great work at ASCO and much more to come I'm sure from the other organizations as well!

Claire Johnston likes this

Posted by @mikethompsonmdphd, Nov 18, 2013

Always great content from you.
Great reference to Bob Miller in "Trends in Twitter Use by Physicians at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting, 2010 and 2011"

Some nice summaries from 2012 data in:
"The Social Oncology Project 2013"

Do you have a site with all of your blog links. You've got so much reference type material -- now at various sites.




Posted by @mattkatz, Nov 18, 2013

Thanks Mike for your kinds words. Your hyperlink is better than the one I gave - thanks for adding it!

As for a website...I'm lame that way. I do have a URL but haven't bothered to develop it. I've been happy enough just posting to not bother collecting online. Just in the CV. Is it time?

Best, Matt


Posted by @mikethompsonmdphd, Nov 18, 2013

You have a lot of great content that is not localizable to one spot. I often google your posts, but as you are gaining cross-platform (ASCO Connection, Symplur, MCCSM, Twitter, etc) followers, it might be useful. Doesn't have to be complicated. Then you can educate me. 🙂

Matthew Katz, MD likes this

Posted by @patelliott, Nov 18, 2013

The ASH hashtags were very helpful last year and I'm looking forward to using them again in December. Matt and Mike, do you think they will get greater use this year?


Posted by @mattkatz, Nov 18, 2013

Pat, I think it's an upward trend for use in general. Likely yes.


Posted by @mikethompsonmdphd, Nov 19, 2013

Yes, I think more people are getting used to the idea of tweeting at meetings. I think ASH is not as far along as ASCO, but it will get there.
Good comments in "Putting Twitter to Use Among Oncologists: Shared Note-Taking at National Meetings and Other Stuff" from a year ago:

Claire Johnston likes this

Posted by @mattkatz, Nov 18, 2013

Thanks for the suggestion, Mike. I've got a radiation oncology blog almost ready to launch, then maybe I'll try to aggregate everything. I may be able to use as a bridge.

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