Social media is increasingly used by patients & health care professionals for education and advocacy around a variety of infectious disease topics. As these are central to the mission of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (PIDS), we sought to improve the social media efforts of PIDS and to increase engagement with our members and the broader ID community.
In Summer 2014, a social media working group (WG) was formed and, based on a review of social media literature, created a social media editor position and drafted a coherent plan ('intervention') for increased social media activities on 2 major networks: Twitter and Facebook. The intervention included regular posting by WG members, concentrated posting during annual meetings, and participation in community social media events (e.g. Tweetchats, national meeting live-tweeting). Following implementation on 10/1/2015, metrics on followers, tweets and engagement on Twitter; and "likes" and engagement on Facebook were collected using the networks' built-in analytics platforms.
The average number of PIDS' tweets/month increased from 1.33 to 18 (p<.0001) from equivalent 7-month blocks pre- & post-intervention; average impressions/day rose from 26 to 358 (p<.0001). The number of PIDS Twitter followers increased from 163 (pre-intervention) to 431 as of 5/17/2015. The rate of follower rise increased from 1.4/week to 6.4/week (p<.0001; Fig. 1). Facebook Page likes increased from 152 (pre-intervention) to 3,295 as of 5/19/2015, with a sharp uptick 5 months after re-launch (Fig. 2). The majority of Facebook likes came from "page suggestions" to friends of people who had already liked the page, suggesting that the slower ramp was due to network effects. For both networks, content that focused around infectious disease events (e.g., Ebola or measles outbreaks) or social media events trended toward eliciting more consistent follower engagement.
A social media intervention on Twitter and Facebook was effective in reaching a larger audience and resulted in more engagement with PIDS. Social media may be one effective tool that national societies can deploy to expand their reach. Assessment of the broader educational and advocacy impact requires further study.
D. K. Hong, None
C. B. Creech, None
A. C. Nyquist, None