Tweeting the Meeting: Investigating Twitter Activity At the 2012 AAAAI Conference


      The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) increased its efforts to use social media to disseminate medical information from its annual meetings. Twitter, a popular microblogging service, is one method used to accomplish this goal. This study investigated the use of Twitter during the 2012 AAAAI meeting. The working hypothesis was that a large number of educational tweets were disseminated to the public.


      A Twitter search was performed using the hashtag #AAAAI. Tweets were divided into 8 categories: fact, link, retweet, reply, query, status, advertisement, and opinion. estimated the number of individuals who read the tweets, an objective measure of the number of people the information was disseminated to.


      The 2012 AAAAI meeting had 5,041 registered delegates and 25 allergists (0.49% of the attendees) used Twitter to publish 2,650 tweets. Their tweets reached 250,000 people, nearly 50 times the number of people who attended the meeting. Of the tweets, 1,397 (52.7%) were facts and 7.2% (192) were facts with links to support the factual information. There were 366 (13.8%) replies, 274 (10.3%) status updates, 219 (8.2%) retweets, 112 (4.2%) opinions, 46 (1.7%) queries and 25 (0.9%) advertisements.


      Social media, and Twitter in particular, is an efficient way to disseminate medical information to medical professionals and the public. A small subset of 25 allergists expanded the educational reach of the 2012 AAAAI annual meeting to 250,000 individuals. A more organized approach and improved participation among attendees could further increase awareness of the specialty in cost-effective and time-efficient manner.