Objective: The objective of the study was to examine specific patterns of Twitter usage using common reference to tinnitus.
Method: The study used cross-sectional analysis of data generated from Twitter data. Twitter content, language, reach, users, accounts, temporal trends, and social networks were examined.
Results: Around seventy thousand tweets were identified and analyzed from May to October 2018. Of the 100 most active Twitter accounts, organizations owned 52%, individuals owned 44%, and 4% of the accounts were unknown. Commercial/for profit and non-profit organizations were the most common organization account owners (i.e., 26% and 16%, respectively). Seven unique tweets were identified with a reach of over 400 Twitter users. The greatest reach exceeded 2000 users. Temporal analysis identified retweet outliers (>200 retweets per hour) that corresponded to a widely publicized event involving the response of Twitter user to another user’s joke. Content analysis indicated that Twitter is a platform that primarily functions to advocate, share personal experiences, or share information about management of tinnitus rather than to provide social support and build relationships.
Conclusions: Twitter accounts owned by organizations outnumbered individual accounts, and commercial/for profit user accounts were the most frequently active organization account type. Analyses of social media use can be helpful in discovering issues of interest to the tinnitus community as well as determining which users and organizations are dominating social network conversations.