Facebook data shows medical students and physicians ‘like’ interaction

Facebook is jam-packed with status updates, advertisements, and cute cat videos, but as a recent analysis published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology points out, it is also a “far-reaching means to deliver information and educational materials” for an entire generation of physicians.  

Pamela T. Johnson, MD, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues wrote that the social media juggernaut could have a significant impact on the future of medical education.

“Because social media have become integrated into the lives of the millennial generation, medical educational materials need to be adapted to reach this generation of physicians, who are using it for information distribution and interaction,” the authors wrote. “Facebook was ranked the market leader in US social media, accounting for 46.5% of all social media site visits; however, it is not a widely used vehicle for medical education. Facebook is a potentially valuable educational tool for the generation that uses social media because it delivers information directly to users in a way to which they have become accustomed. When a user connects to a Facebook page, that page’s posts are delivered to the user’s personal page in real time, so that information is communicated directly to the user in a timely fashion, rather than the user having to search for new information.”

Johnson et al. examined a Facebook page created by www.CTisus.com, a website dedicated to educational material about CT, looking at the page’s total engagements, demographics, engagements, and content throughout July 2015.

Overall, the CTisus Facebook page gained more than 2,100 “likes” for the month, giving it more than 50,000 overall. It averaged 85 new likes per day and more than 2,300 engagements per day. Thirty-eight percent of the page’s “fans” were between the ages of 25 and 34, and another 20 percent were between the ages of 18 and 24.

Also, users from all over the world interact with CTisus through Facebook; it’s not just popular in the U.S.

“Users from India, Egypt, Brazil, and Pakistan are among the top followers of the page,” the authors wrote. “The five cities from which fans most frequently access the page are Cairo, Egypt; Mexico City, Mexico; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Baghdad, Iraq; and New Delhi, India. Most reaches come from cities such as Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; Mexico City; Santiago, Chile; Cairo; and São Paulo, Brazil, while most engagements come from Mexico City; Cairo; São Paulo; Dhaka, Bangladesh; and Yangon, Myanmar.”

The site posts an average of 15 posts each day, and the peak times are considered to be 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. According to Facebook’s analytical data, certain types of posts were more popular with users than others. Photos reached more users, according to the site’s analytical data, but videos resulted in more users actually interacting with the content.

The authors noted that the power of social media is no passing fad. Its impact is expected to increase as time goes on.

“A Facebook page can serve as an effective vehicle for medical education,” the authors wrote. “The millennial generation favors more technologically oriented teaching methods, and web-based delivery of information and educational materials will only grow as future physicians are exposed to technology at a young age.”

More information on how radiologists can benefit from using social media can be found here.