Factors that contribute to social media influence within an Internal Medicine Twitter learning community.

Research paper by Tejas T Desai, Manish M Patwardhan, Hunter H Coore

Indexed on: 12 Aug '14Published on: 12 Aug '14Published in: F1000Research


Medical societies, faculty, and trainees use Twitter to learn from and educate other social media users. These social media communities bring together individuals with various levels of experience. It is not known if experienced individuals are also the most influential members. We hypothesize that participants with the greatest experience would be the most influential members of a Twitter community. We analyzed the 2013 Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine Twitter community. We measured the number of tweets authored by each participant and the number of amplified tweets (re-tweets). We developed a multivariate linear regression model to identify any relationship to social media influence, measured by the PageRank. Faculty (from academic institutions) comprised 19% of the 132 participants in the learning community (p < 0.0001). Faculty authored 49% of all 867 tweets (p < 0.0001). Their tweets were the most likely to be amplified (52%, p < 0.01). Faculty had the greatest influence amongst all participants (mean 1.99, p < 0.0001). Being a faculty member had no predictive effect on influence (β = 0.068, p = 0.6). The only factors that predicted influence (higher PageRank) were the number of tweets authored (p < 0.0001) and number of tweets amplified (p < 0.0001) The status of "faculty member" did not confer a greater influence. Any participant who was able to author the greatest number of tweets or have more of his/her tweets amplified could wield a greater influence on the participants, regardless of his/her authority.