Silja Chouquet examines the Twitter noise at pharma/medical meetings:
We compared and segmented the tweets during ASCO, the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology versus ECTRIMS, the main congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis in 2015 (seeFigure).
The segmentation data shows that, despite the ASCO hashtag conversation being eight times bigger than ECTRIMS' (72k vs 9k tweets), both congresses featured strong participation, with roughly 30% of engagement coming from healthcare providers (HCPs). This is important because many organisers still believe that, as medical societies, their mission is, first and foremost, to serve their members and not to spread and share scientific advances with the entire world. These high proportions of HCP participation should thus reassure them that many of their members do, indeed, appreciate the value and relevancy of the Twitter hashtag conversation during their conferences.
Unfortunately, the next-largest segment of the ASCO tweets – 27% – came from null or low-quality accounts (null accounts are those that could not be segmented because they did not have sufficient information in their profiles or tweets. Low-quality accounts are those that can be clearly identified as spam or click-farming accounts). In contrast, these made up only 7% of tweets at the ECTRIMS event.
Segmenting ASCO tweets for previous years reveals that, ironically, this large number can probably be attributed to the much-envied high volume of tweets during ASCO in 2015.
Click-farming accounts are attracted to promoted campaigns like wasps are attracted to the ice cream your kids are eating in the summer. We suppose that the keywords used in promoted campaigns become part of their algorithms somewhere and thus, much like wasps, once one click-farming account gets attracted to a conversation hashtag, the other ones find it more easily and come buzzing into every aspect of the conversation.
In order to maintain the high quality of the engagement and conversation online, congress organisers should:
1. Issue guidance advising against the use of promoted tweets using their hashtag or targeting their participants.
2. Closely measure and monitor their hashtag conversation for quality and relevance.
3. Actively participate, facilitate and manage the conversation via their own handles.
4. Nominate key opinion leaders as their topical experts on Twitter (like ASCO).
5. Allow the community, especially patient advocacy groups, to step in, self-regulate and moderate their discussions.