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Seven Years of #ASCO by the Numbers

Senior Director, Social Media

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The annual ASCO meeting is the largest professional social media event of the year and 2017 continued the growth trend. Most of the chatter happens on Twitter which is promoted by the organization with the use of its preferred hashtag, #ASCO17.

The annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is the largest medical meetings in the world. This year over 39 thousand attendees shared information and learned from studies about the current leading edge of cancer research. And, throughout this meeting Twitter was abuzz with findings, sharing, and comments. ASCO is the high point in professional social media use.

Using data from the Symplur Health Hashtag project we have compiled the past seven years of ASCO on Twitter. The growth resumed this year so while the rest of the social media industry may be worried about Twitter’s growth, medical professionals are still going strong on the platform. We’ve looked at participants, total number of tweets, and the peak number of tweets on the most active day.


ASCO number of twitter users using the hashtag

We see that the growth in the number of users has slowed somewhat, but with 39 thousand users we are still looking at a healthy ratio of twitter users to participants at 52%. We naturally can’t assume all twitter participants are actual ASCO attendees but many will be. This indicates that the attendees of the meeting are much more active than the roughly 3% that Manhattan Research reports using the platform for professional purposes.

Total Tweets

ASCO total number of tweets

The users this year were more active with their time at the congress with a healthy 34% growth in total tweets. Now, some of this will be spam since the popularity of ASCO on Twitter has caught the attention of the underbelly of the platform but such is the cost of success on social.

Peak Mentions

ASCO hashtag growth over the past seven years – peak mentions

The social media etiquette for ASCO story in Forbes has Twitter front and center as the primary platform and has a few tips that can help the newbie ASCO attendee:

A few suggestions. First, write your Twitter handle on your name badge. Second, if you really, really have to ask a question of a presenter at a general oral session (more on this later), give your Twitter handle after your name. Third—do the tweetup right. It may be counterintuitive, but the preferred form of communication at a tweetup is by talking. You can text each other if it gets too loud.

Looking at the social chatter on Sysomos we can also pull a few other insights out.

Most Retweeted

Some of the most retweeted posts from ASCO show us the different voices in the conversation.

ASCO most retweeted posts

ASCO just ended this week but we can see that the activity on Twitter is only growing year over year.

For our social listening efforts where there is an HCP component we do need to consider looking to the most public and most easily tracked platform: Twitter.


It’s important to remember that some newbies don’t figure out the correct hashtag right away. We took a look at #ASCO17, the one promoted by the organization, #ASCO, and #ASCO2017. The smaller hashtags were there and accounted for roughly 25% of the talk:

ASCO hashtag variations trend

ASCO hashtag variations share of voice

More About the Author

Brad Einarsen

Brad is Klick's Senior Director leading the social practice. His group ensures that clients get the best bang for their buck on the social platforms.

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