BACKGROUND: There is a paucity of information describing the adoption of social media by the vascular surgery community and social media's effectiveness. We evaluated current trends in social media use by all accredited vascular surgery training programs (VSTPs) in the United States and National and Regional Vascular Societies (NVS) in comparison to hospital/institutions and general surgery programs (GSPs).
METHODS: Four major social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube) were individually searched for VSTPs, affiliated hospital/institution, affiliated GSP, and NVS profiles (31 societies). Social media presence was evaluated for quantitative and qualitative variables (likes/followers/posts and content) on each platform. Statistical analysis was performed utilizing a two-sample t-test, exact McNemar's and Fischer's exact test, as appropriate, with alpha set at 0.05.
RESULTS: Social media accounts were found for 31% of VSTP. VSTP with both fellowship and integrated positions had a greater social media presence than integrated only (45% vs. 10%, P = 0.042) and fellowship only (45% vs. 26%, P = 0.044) programs. For integrated programs, an increase in residency positions filled in the 2019 match was associated with the use of social media (P = 0.002). VSTP social media presence was largest on Twitter (24%) with 232 total posts and 0.32 posts/day. 52% of NVS had a social media platform, with the highest prevalence on Facebook (42%) and highest utilization on Twitter (1422 posts, 0.47 posts/day). Hashtags were used for postings by 78% of VSTP and 100% of NVS. VSTP had a lower overall social media presence than their institutions and GSP (31% vs. 96% and 65%, P < 0.001). Twitter was used by VSTP significantly less than the institutions and GSP (24% vs. 87% and 57%, P < 0.001). Facebook and Instagram were used less by VSTP than institutions or GSP (10% vs. 93% and 26% P < 0.001, 4% vs. 76% and 24% P < 0.001 respectively). YouTube channels were the least used platform in VSTP compared with institutions (3% vs. 92%, P < 0.001), but comparable to GSP (3% vs. 10%, P = 0.062). Regarding content, VSTP accounts were used for comments on academic activity of residents/physicians, faculty research, patient education, and commendations.
CONCLUSIONS: There is relative underuse of social media by VSTP in comparison to their associated institutions and general surgery programs. VSTP may modify their approach to recruitment by utilizing the follower base of institutions, surgery programs, and NVS or by leveraging established institutional marketing programs. Adoption of social media may provide vascular surgery increased exposure for trainee and patient recruitment and specialty brand recognition.