The use of social media platforms among healthcare professionals is increasing. A Twitter social media campaign promoting the hashtag #colorectalsurgery was launched with the aim of providing a specialty-specific forum to collate discussions and science relevant to an engaged, global community of coloproctologists. This article reviews initial experiences of the early adoption, engagement and utilization of this pilot initiative.
The hashtag #colorectalsurgery was promoted via the online microblogging service Twitter across a 180-day interval. Data on all tweets containing the #colorectalsurgery hashtag were analysed using online analytical tools. Data included total number of tweets, number of views, and user engagement since registration and launch of the campaign. Content of tweet and user demographic analysis was undertaken.
The number of tweets using #colorectalsurgery grew rapidly following the launch on 24 April 2016; #colorectalsurgery was used in 15 708 tweets, which resulted in 65 398 696 impressions and involved 1863 individual Twitter accounts. Increased volumes of #colorectalsurgery tweets were noted in association with the timing of three major international colorectal surgical conferences, and geographical trends were noted. Some 88·4 per cent of all posts were by male users. The top 25 users by volume of #colorectalsurgery tweets had considerable influence and posted 8023 tweets (51·1 per cent).
Online global communities formed via healthcare-related hashtags, such as #colorectalsurgery, unify social media posts, scientists, surgeons and authors who have an interest in coloproctology. Furthermore, they facilitate greater connectivity among geographically separate users.