Monday, January 18, 2021

Social Media Stats for Palliative Care Journals 2020

by Christian Sinclair (@ctsinclair)

Over the past two years I have been working to increase the profile of the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management as the associate editor of social media. In that time, I have come to make a few observations on the current state of social media use by palliative care journals and researchers that I would like to share with you dear readers along with some statistics. Could I make all of this into a paper, published in one of said journals? Possibly. But curiously enough I am looking to effect positive change quickly, so for now we will go with a blog, some Tweet threads and data visualizations. The article can come later!

Over time I will be looking at the social media ecosystem including research organizations, researchers and academic programs, but today the focus will be on the journals.

First off, do you follow any of the main palliative care journals on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram? How many are there even to follow?

I will tell you it is not necessarily easy to find them. No unified place to find them all, no organizing hashtag that is in all of the bios. I have been following 14 Twitter accounts, 10 Facebook Pages, and 3 Instagram accounts for palliative care journals. And so far to my knowledge, there are none on Snapchat nor TikTok. I have not been collecting data on podcasts nor YouTube either, but those areas are good for exploration. If I am missing any or my stats are off, please let me know.

If you want to start following any of them, here are links to make it simple:

A Twitter List maintained by the JPSM Twitter account.



I have been taking some publicly available stats over the past few months. My hope is to check in every once in a while here and likely on Twitter to see what the different accounts are doing that is helping to promote palliative care research online. Let’s take those good social media practices and replicate!



While follower numbers do not equal engagement or influence they are a fair proxy for measuring who is getting people’s attention. The clear leader on each platform is the journal Palliative Medicine. The editorial team has consistently published good content on each of the platforms, has an easy to find journal title, and appears to get good engagement from researchers. While Supportive Care in Cancer has been around for a while, it is new to Twitter, and has already been gaining followers at a rapid pace since debuting in Fall 2020. A new journal Palliative Medicine Reports also recently joined Twitter in May 2020 and has been making ground on some of the more established accounts, now ranking 10th out of 14.

As I am creating social media posts for the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, it can be surprisingly difficult to find researchers on Twitter to tag them and help promote their work. In a later post focusing on researchers and research organizations, I will share why we need to remedy this absence from the digital public square. (but here is a quick summary to show you why it matters!)





What is interesting to me is that not all the journals follow each other on Twitter. Above is a table showing which journals follow other journals. Start on the left hand side and ask “Does _____…” then move to the top and complete the question “Follow _____?” It is important for the journals to follow each other and possibly help promote a healthy environment for more researchers to participate online. Of course there is natural competition in terms of authors and publications, but I feel there is benefit to demonstrating relationships of mutual respect and support online.

As I am creating social media posts for the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, it is VERY difficult to find the authors on Twitter to tag them and help promote their work. In a later post focusing on researchers and research organizations, I will share why we need to remedy this absence from the digital public square.

Of the 14 Twitter accounts, 5 have posted less than 30 tweets over the past 90 days. So if they are not that active, will you get that much from following them? Probably not. But it does not cost anything to follow them and maybe this post getting them a lot of new followers may reinvigorate their work.

For all 3 platforms I would propose that the journals consider using a unifying hashtag. #hapc (hospice and palliative care) is a natural one as it already has a built in audience that would be interested in the content and is short on characters. I have flirted with #hapcResearch but I am not confident that it needs a separate hashtag on Twitter. Yet, #hapc may not be enough, since on on Facebook and Instagram #hapc is not well defined, often cross-populated with lots of irrelevant content. So maybe #hapcResearch is a good one to bridge across all three platforms. The journal social media editors need to hash this one out.

I’m not quite sure what qualifies as a palliative care journal. I included JAGS mostly because they have some very relevant research to the field of hospice and palliative care, and their social media editor is Eric Widera of GeriPal, so a natural overlap there. It also serves as a good benchmark. Additionally I have included the Cochrane Pain, Palliative and Supportive Care Review Group. Is Cochrane a journal? Kind of. Should they be classified as a research group instead? Maybe. I need to probably ask them how they see they fit best.

There are two journals that have palliative care in the title but I have chosen not to list them, because they may be associated with predatory publishers. I keep track of them to see how they operate, and use them as a benchmark since I am not actively promoting them by including them in the rankings above.

Well I hope you enjoy this glimpse into the social media stats of palliative care journals. I have some more thoughts, some calculations and stats, I am waiting to gather some more data on before I share them widely. If you do have a moment, please go follow @JPSMjournal on Twitter and Facebook! If you are interested in helping with these stats, writing a paper or learning how to do social media for a journal, I would be happy to hear from you.

For more Pallimed posts about social media.
For more Pallimed posts by Dr. Sinclair click here.

Christian Sinclair, MD, FAAHPM, is a associate professor of palliative medicine at the Univeristy of Kansas Health System. He is editor-in-chief of Pallimed, and cannot wait to play board games in person again.

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