Twitter Storm at ObesityWeek 2017
Record Number of Tweets for Annual Meeting
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Published in November Issue             

Donald Trump is known as the “Tweeter-in-Chief,” but during ObesityWeek 2017, the president had nothing on the more than 1,600 people who were tweeting about everything from scientific studies and awards to new and old friendships and trips to Capitol Hill.

Averaging about 74 tweets an hour, there were more than 8,000 tweets during ObesityWeek 2017 or in twitter parlance -- #OW2017.

These tweets recorded more than 100 million impressions, nearly double the number from last year. Impressions are the number of times a tweet has
been seen.

“There was tremendous activity. Twitter is really taking off among ASMBS members,” said Neil Floch, MD, the Twitter guru who manages the ASMBS twitter handle (@ASMBS) and was recently named a social media editor of SOARD. “We had so many new Twitter users at ObesityWeek who will now continue to spread the message throughout the year.”

ObesityWeek tweeters had a message size limit of 140 characters, which Twitter recently doubled to 280, though that happened after the meeting. Still, so much was said in so
few words.

In the fast-paced world of obesity and bariatric and metabolic surgery, it can be hard to keep up with all the new data and new thinking on procedures, practices and training. Twitter has an ability to shine a light in real time about what’s going on so clinicians can engage if they want or catch up and dig in further when they have time.

Social media is reimagining how health professionals participate in medical conferences. At ObesityWeek, an army of tweeters were in virtually every scientific session tweeting about top 10 papers, posting pictures of interesting slides, and quoting interesting insights from presenters and discussants. Many also used Twitter to give feedback to speakers, and continue the discussion well after the last slide was clicked.

The main event sessions where two members squared off against each other for charity on a variety of topics found a place on twitter. It was Schauer vs. Gagner, Lufti vs. Moore, Hutter vs. Telem, and other match ups debating issues including RYGB for Diabetes vs DS; Intragastric Balloon vs. Band; and Linear Stapled vs. Circular Stapled Anastomosis. Rachel Moore was the big winner who raised the most money for the ASMBS Foundation.

Bariatric support groups was a big topic. The most retweeted post of the week was Dr. Paul Davidson’s (@PaulDavidsonPhD) tweet, “Dr Alan Wittgrove says that surgeons attending bariatric support groups just makes sense for care and program growth.”

Trips to Capitol Hill

Many ASMBS members made their way to Senate and congressional offices to brief policymakers on obesity, metabolic and bariatric surgery, The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act and access to care. Twitter was populated with such scenes.

Awards and Honors

Many dedicated and hardworking ASMBS members were recognized for their contributions to the field and Twitter noticed. Twitter helped capture the emotion and recognition.

Passing the Torch of Leadership

Dr. Stacy Brethauer delivered his presidential address and passed the gavel to new ASMBS president, Samer Mattar, MD, and Rami Lufti, MD became the ASMBS Foundation president succeeding Marina Kurian, MD. Twitter didn’t miss a beat.

The Future – Get Out Your Smartphones

Twitter is alive and well and starting to thrive among ASMBS members, some of whom tweeted for the first time during ObesityWeek 2017. Dr. Floch gave several popular talks on how to use it and his “students” were quick learners and have become part of the ASMBS twitter army, with one of the top lieutenants being Dr. Paul Davidson, who seemed to be everywhere.

“My hope for the future is that there will be more structured programs and education on social media so that physicians and members across all fields of treatment will be able to use this tool to the best of their capabilities,” said Dr. Floch, who is also president of the Connecticut chapter of the ASMBS.

Follow @ASMBS on Twitter to see what’s trending and join the more than 22,000 who already have @ASMBS on their Twitter feed.