Certainly, over the last week, everyone has been following the news of the massive layoffs at Twitter and is hearing about the threat of a mass exodus of users who may leave the platform after it was taken over by Elon Musk.
As the leading provider of KOL Social Monitoring for Medical Affairs, we have been monitoring the situation to see if these events are impacting thought leader activity and scientific exchange on the Twitter platform.
Are KOLs closing their Twitter accounts?
The first concern that medical affairs has about these events is if Key Opinion Leaders and Digital Opinion Leaders are going to close their Twitter accounts. So far across over 65,000 HCPs, we are listening to worldwide, one-third of which have Twitter accounts, we have not seen any that have closed their account since the takeover. While this may be possible in the future, this response appears to be more measured and less of a reaction for KOLs and DOLs.
Will KOLs & DOLs still discuss scientific content on Twitter?
The amount of scientifically relevant content being discussed on Twitter by KOLs and DOLs has been steadily increasing for the last several years. In the first week since the takeover, the amount of scientifically relevant content has remained consistent, and we do not yet see any early predictors or indications of a decline in using this platform for scientific exchange – repeat caveat, we are only a week into yet another new era of social platform flux post-Elon’s takeover.
It has been suggested online that users may move to other platforms such as Tumblr or Reddit, however, those sources have remained at their normal levels of scientific activity also. Whilst we may see a rise in alternative platforms, it does not appear that it will be at the expense of maintaining a presence on Twitter also at this time.
Are KOLs and DOLs moving to Mastodon? Oh, what is Mastodon?
There has been a lot of conversation in the news and online about a new social platform called Mastodon. Mastodon was created in 2016 as a free, open-source, social media platform that is distributed across many servers rather than being hosted by a single corporation like Twitter. Essentially, anyone can use this code to start their own social network.
Across our database, we have seen only 100 KOL or DOL ‘early adopters’ mention Mastodon in their social posts. The majority of these limited mentions talked about starting to cross-post content across both platforms in case they find a reason why they must leave Twitter suddenly. This is only 0.8% of the KOLs or DOLs with Twitter accounts today. This is aligned with the fact that today Mastodon only has 0.2% of the users that Twitter does, most of which use both platforms.
We at Acceleration Point are continuing to monitor the Mastodon networks for evidence of meaningful scientific exchange. However, the question remains if this network will become an impactful home for scientific exchange or if the attention it is getting today is a temporary reaction by the general public.
While the long-term impact of the changes at Twitter is still unknown, there are two things that we believe to be true. First, in the short-term Twitter remains the predominant social platform for scientific exchange. The second is that these events are calling even more attention to the impact that digital exchange through social media has on today’s culture. We believe that this attention will continue to encourage scientific experts to share their beliefs through digital channels building their digital share of scientific voice.
When empowered by a social monitoring platform like Kwello, both present opportunities for medical affairs to discover new insights and find additional opportunities to engage with the top doctors around the world.