219610 Social media and diffusion of health information: An analysis of tweets and retweets resulting from an influenza-related webinar

Monday, November 8, 2010

Holli Hitt Seitz, MPH , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA
Ann Aikin, MA , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA
Jessica Schindelar, MPH , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA
A. Brittany Curtis, BA , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA
Background: Between November 2009 and January 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hosted a series of influenza-related webinars and encouraged participants to share the information through social media tools, including Twitter (a microblogging and social networking tool). For the webinar discussed below, the authors facilitated information sharing by establishing and promoting a unique Twitter hashtag for the event. The webinar provided an opportunity to examine the diffusion of health messages via Twitter. Methods: Authors used a qualitative content analysis to examine the transcript and tweets resulting from the webinar to identify which messages participants chose for dissemination. Tweets were included only if they contained the established hashtag. Authors then examined the social network of "live tweeters," those who tweeted during the event, to determine reach and spread of main messages. Results: Of 46 tweets using the hashtag, 32 were promotional tweets (resulting in 98 clicks through to the webpage promoting the webinar). Fourteen tweets were live tweets from the event: 12 reiterated main points and statistics, one asked a question, and one promoted CDC social media products. Overall, promotional tweets had the potential to reach 102,124 Twitter users. Live tweets had the potential to reach 1,536. The presentation will include images of the social network representing tweet dissemination. Conclusions: This activity demonstrates that participant-generated live-tweeting is a valid form of health information dissemination, and is particularly beneficial for reaching extended networks of participants. Results from analysis of messages tweeted have implications for future message formation.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe quantitative and qualitative methods for monitoring Twitter and analyzing tweets to inform message development. 2. Explain the fundamental functions of Twitter, including "tweeting," "retweeting," and "following," as they relate to health communication. 3. List ways to engage social media users and evaluate the impact of this outreach.

Keywords: Communication Evaluation, Internet

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I serve as a social media specialist and oversee social media components of health communication campaigns for the agency, I have an advanced degree in public health with an emphasis in health behavior and education, and I led the activity and evaluation of the activity addressed in this abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.