Initial impact of physical therapy advocacy hashtags on Twitter: feasibility and descriptive analysis



Document Type


Conference Title/Conference Publication

Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association


American Physical Therapy Association


San Antonio, TX

Conference Dates

February 15, 2017-February 18, 2017

Date of Presentation



Purpose/Hypothesis : A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) used to identify messages on a specific topic on many social media platforms. Hashtags are widely used on Twitter within tweets to organize ideas and assign meaning to phrases. Hashtags can be tracked for popularity, making them important to measure the effect of social media outreach and advocacy efforts used to educate professionals and patients. The purpose of this study was to analyze the initial impact of 5 common physical therapy advocacy hashtags as measured by total impressions, impressions per tweet and impressions per participant. We hypothesized the reach of physical therapy advocacy Twitter hashtags feasibly could be estimated by commonly available data.

Number of Subjects : Data consisted of 83 tweets, 49 participants, and 362,056 impressions that were available for analysis.

Materials/Methods : Tweets containing the hashtags #getPT1st, #solvePT, #PTadvocacy, #choosePT and #PTtransforms were analyzed. Data from Symplur ( was used to gather the amount of total impressions (number of times a tweet appeared on a user’s feed), tweets, and participants (number of users who tweeted using the hashtag) within the 60 days in order to compare the relative initial impact of each hashtag.

Results : Out of this sample, #getPT1st had the largest initial impact within the first 60 days of its creation with the most numerous total impressions, second most tweets, and second most participants. #getPT1st contained 261,364 total impressions, 31 total tweets, 13 participants, 8,431.1 impressions/tweet and 20,104.9 impressions/participant. #PTtransforms had 46,647 total impressions, 4 total tweets, 4 participants, 11,661.8 impressions/tweet and 11,661.8 impressions/participant. #choosePT contained 29,265 total impressions, 36 total tweets, 22 participants, 812.9 Impressions/tweet and 1,330.2 impressions/participant. #solvePT had 19,751 total impressions, 8 total tweets, 6 participants, 2,468.9 Impressions/Tweet and 3,291.8 impressions/participant. #PTadvocacy contained 5,029 total impressions, 4 total tweets, 4 participants, 1,251.3 impressions/tweet and 1,251.3 impressions/participant.

Conclusions : Physical therapy advocacy hashtags feasibly can be analyzed based on publicly available descriptive data, and they differ in performance. #getPT1st had the most impressions and #PTtransforms had the most impressions/tweet. This variation suggests there may be best practices in social media advocacy for physical therapy, which should be the focus of additional research.

Clinical Relevance : Initial excitement about a hashtag can be used to maximize education and coalesce stakeholder support around major physical therapy issues. Social media marketing campaigns for physical therapy advocacy issues and clinic marketing should begin to use analytics in order to evaluate performance, as well as identify and incorporate best practices that could be specific to the needs of the physical therapy profession.

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