Introduction: The number of educational resources created for emergency medicine and critical care (EMCC) that incorporate social media has increased dramatically. With no way to assess their impact or quality, it is challenging for educators to receive scholarly credit and for learners to identify respected resources. The Social Media index (SMi) was developed to help address this.
Methods: We used data from social media platforms (Google PageRanks, Alexa Ranks, Facebook Likes, Twitter Followers, and Google+ Followers) for EMCC blogs and podcasts to derive three normalized (ordinal, logarithmic, and raw) formulas. The most statistically robust formula was assessed for 1) temporal stability using repeated measures and website age, and 2) correlation with impact by applying it to EMCC journals and measuring the correlation with known journal impact metrics.
Results: The logarithmic version of the SMi containing four metrics was the most statistically robust. It correlated significantly with website age (Spearman r=0.372; p<0.001) and repeated measures through seven months (r=0.929; p<0.001). When applied to EMCC journals, it correlated significantly with all impact metrics except number of articles published. The strongest correlations were seen with the Immediacy Index (r=0.609; p<0.001) and Article Influence Score (r=0.608; p<0.001).
Conclusion: The SMi's temporal stability and correlation with journal impact factors suggests that it may be a stable indicator of impact for medical education websites. Further study is needed to determine whether impact correlates with quality and how learners and educators can best utilize this tool.