Hashtag help: Twitter spreads JACR's message

Planned social media activity around general interest topics in radiology has increased one journal’s reach, according to a recent study out of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

C. Matthew Hawkins, MD, of the University of Washington, and colleagues set out to test the effectiveness of social media in expanding article readership. The team noted Twitter is increasing in popularity among physicians and other attendees at national medical meetings.

“This growth is such that a recent review of social media use in medical education concluded that Twitter use is an emerging field of scholarship that presents medical educators with innovative opportunities and warrants further investigation,” Hawkins and colleagues noted.

The Journal of the American College of Radiology recently took note of social media trends and launched an initiative that encouraged interaction among its readership.

Topics were determined in advance by magazine staff and moderated through “tweet chats” using the hashtag #JACR. Topics ranged from “Disruptive Behavior” to “Renaming Cancer” and “Life and Career Transitions.”

These moderated discussions, which began in July 2013, were open to the public, led by national topic experts and were used to evaluate temporally related journal website activity.

Since the chats began, six live events have been hosted. Each tweet chat averaged 444 tweets per session with about 33 unique participants each.

On average, 45.4 percent of the participants were not related to the radiology field.

Each tweet chat averaged 1.16 million impressions each. Additionally, each chat averaged 19 tweets with links to relevant material or topics.

All of the social media activity equated to more article views for the Journal of the American College of Radiology. Since the tweet chats began, monthly article view counts have averaged 41,017 compared to 31,220 before the events began.

Website visits per month have grown by more than 25 percent since the live events began and unique visitors to the journal’s website grew by 20 percent.

“Our early experience with JACR tweet chats demonstrates that organizing Twitter microblogging activities around topics of general interest to its target readership bears the potential for medical journals to increase their audience and online journal activity,” Hawkins and colleagues wrote.

The team concluded that strategically choosing moderators and featured guests with large social media followings creates larger potential for reaching new audiences.