Start spreading the news: Blogs, social media important within radiology

 - Facebook Like

Blog posts about important topics in radiology that are properly promoted through social media can reach larger audiences than academic articles on similar topics found in peer-to-peer journals, according to a recent study published by the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Jenny K. Hoang and colleagues compared the online analytics of traditional articles found in the American Journal of Neuroradiology (AJNR) and the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR) with analytics of a blog post on Radiopaedia.org. All three articles were about reporting incidental thyroid nodules detected from CT and MRI scans.

From April 2013 to September 2014, the AJNR article received 2,421 page views and the AJR article received 3,064. During that same time period, the blog post received a total of 32,675 page views, completely dwarfing the reach of the two traditional journal entries. The authors of the study believe that these numbers should serve as a wake-up call to researchers in the field of radiology who are skeptic of blog posts, social media and popular websites.

“Researchers and academicians in radiology should not ignore opportunities in social media for the purposes of propagating expert opinions and research findings,” Hoang et al wrote. “These opportunities include invitations to write blogs or be interviewed by social or ‘traditional’ press media.”

According to the study, the biggest reason for the difference in page views is that Radiopaedia.org properly promoted its content through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Facebook, on its own, was responsible for approximately 72% of the blog post’s page views.

“Individual readers personally endorsed the blog and shared it with their own followers in social networks, which corresponded temporally with very large increases in the number of page views for the blog article,” Hoang et al wrote.

Search engines such as Google and Microsoft Bing also brought the Radiopaedia.org blog post a large number of page views, showing the continued importance of delivering search-friendly content.

The authors said another difference between the journal articles and the blog post is that users must pay to read AJNR and AJR content, either through a subscription or on a per-article basis. Radiopaedia.org, on the other hand, is completely free to access and read. In addition, Radiopaedia.org has the advantage of being easier for readers who may not have the time to sit down and read through a lengthy academic article.

“The blog presented a short summary of multiple articles, which may be regarded by readers as being both quicker and easier to consume than a scientific paper,” Hoang et al wrote.

The study points out that the blog post in question referenced both the AJNR article and the AJR article, but it’s unclear what type of impact this had on the journals’ page views. When Radiopaedia.org promoted the post through social media, the AJNR saw an increase in page views, but the AJR did not. The authors cite previous studies that suggest there is little to no correlation between social media promotion and academic journal page views, but then follow up by saying, “further rigorous study of the effects of social media promotion is warranted.”