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Fam Med. 2014 Sep;46(8):608-14.

Twitter use at a family medicine conference: analyzing #STFM13.

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Department of Family Medicine, Georgetown University.



The use of social media is expanding in medicine. A few articles sought to describe participant behavior using Twitter at scientific conferences. Family physicians are known as active participants in social media, but their behavior and practices at conferences have not been methodically described.


We recorded all public tweets at the 2013 Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM) Annual Spring Conference bearing the hashtag #STFM13, using commercially available services. We created a transcript of all tweets for the 5 days of the conference and 3 days before and after. We looked at the total number of tweets, number of original tweets and re-tweets, active users, most prolific users, and impressions. We categorized the content based on (1) Session related, (2) Social, (3) Logistics, (4) Ads, and (5) Other. We compared major metrics (but not content) to the 2012 STFM Annual Spring Conference.


There were a total of 1,818 tweets from 181 user accounts: 13% of the conference registrants. The top tweeter accounted for over 15% of the total tweets, and the top 10 accounted for over 50% of the total volume. Most original tweets (69.7%) were related to session content. Social content came in second (14.2%), followed by other, logistics, and advertisement (7.6%, 6.9%, 1.6%).


This preliminary analysis provides an initial snapshot of twitter activity at a family medicine conference. It may suggest avenues for further inquiry: trend identification, "influencer" identification, and qualitative analysis. Interdisciplinary research should focus on evaluation methods that can assess the quality, value, and impact of tweeting.

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