A randomized trial of social media from Circulation

Circulation. 2015 Jan 6;131(1):28-33. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.013509. Epub 2014 Nov 18.


Background: Medical journals use social media to distribute the findings of published articles. Whether social media exposure to original articles improves article impact metrics is uncertain.

Methods and results: Articles were randomized to receive targeted social media exposure from Circulation, including postings on the journal's Facebook and Twitter feeds. The primary end point was 30-day article page views. We conducted an intention-to-treat analysis comparing article page views by the Wilcoxon Rank sum test between articles randomized to social media as compared with those in the control group, which received no social media from Circulation. Prespecified subgroups included article type (population/clinical/basic), US versus non-US corresponding author, and whether the article received an editorial. Overall, 243 articles were randomized: 121 in the social media arm and 122 in the control arm. There was no difference in median 30-day page views (409 [social media] versus 392 [control], P=0.80). No differences were observed by article type (clinical, population, or basic science; P=0.19), whether an article had an editorial (P=0.87), or whether the corresponding author was from the United States (P=0.73).

Conclusions: A social media strategy for a cardiovascular journal did not increase the number of times an article was viewed. Further research is necessary to understand and quantify the ways in which social media can increase the impact of published cardiovascular research.

Keywords: randomized controlled trials; social media.

MeSH terms

  • Authorship
  • Humans
  • Intention to Treat Analysis
  • Internet
  • Journal Impact Factor*
  • Periodicals as Topic / trends*
  • Random Allocation
  • Social Media / trends*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • United States