Objectives: Social media's growing presence in personal interactions, news reporting, and education are just some of the ways this technology is changing our in-person and virtual interactions. While social media has been used in conjunction with the past few annual Mid-Atlantic Chapter (MAC) meetings, understanding who is participating and how they participate can help identify other patterns for year-round networking.
Methods: The meeting planning team created an outline identifying all key communication channels and groups, including the MAC Messages blog and Twitter, to promote the annual conference. The author used several quantitative methods to track social media posts related to the conference: (1) The WordPress web analytics of the MAC Messages blog track how many people read the conference posts and how many responded; (2) Storify captured and archived the tweets sent to the #macmla2013 conference hashtag; and (3) tweet archivist provided additional analytics regarding distribution of messages across Twitter participants and their larger social impact based on the number of followers. Thematic analysis of tweets will identify patterns of content or talking points among participants and the virtual narrative that occurs during conference sessions.
Results: A total of 243 tweets matched the #macmla2013 hashtag for the MACMLA 2013 conference, and 675 viewed WordPress blog posts regarding conference content. In-person conference attendance was 174 people. Comparatively, 19 people tweeted during the conference. While the Twitter-ers were significantly smaller in number, their combined followers list indicates a possible impact network of approximately 6,900. Ten items were re-tweeted, and 8 items were favorited. Among the tweets, 34 different Twitter accounts were specifically identified or connected through @ identification. Fifteen other hashtags were also used to bridge content to other conversations. Common themes identified in the tweets were social interactions, keynotes, continuing education courses, MAC Business Meeting, and conference commentary.
Conclusions: Hashtag usage, apart from specific conference hashtag, was less used to effectively bridge communication on a topic; instead, it was misused to highlight commentary on an event. Instead, @name inclusion better identified other key constituencies. Most items re-tweeted were re-tweeted by other participants already at the meeting, while those who favorited tweets were mostly not in attendance. Comparing Twitter content and blog post views, both had content-specific items such as posters, paper presentations, and keynotes as most viewed and commented. Based on these behaviors, future annual meeting groups can understand the larger reach of scholarship beyond the conference center.