BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted traditional resident recruitment practices, requiring virtual interviews and new forms of outreach. Social media, such as Twitter, is one tool programs can use to connect with applicants. This study sought to assess changes in Twitter use during the COVID-19 pandemic among general surgery programs.
METHODS: Twitter and residency program websites were queried for public Twitter accounts related to general surgery residency programs. Publicly available tweets for available accounts were reviewed for all posts for the period March 15, 2019-November 25, 2020. Thematic analysis of each tweet was performed, and engagement was determined by likes and retweets on each tweet.
RESULTS: The number of programs with active Twitter accounts increased after the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, as did the number of tweets, likes-, and retweets-per-tweet. There was a significant increase in the number of tweets regarding resident promotion, program promotion, and virtual event promotion. Tweets received more likes-per-tweet if the subject was program promotion and resident promotion than tweets regarding virtual events. All results were statistically significant (P < .05).
DISCUSSION: Twitter use and engagement with residency programs have increased significantly since pandemic onset. Engagement is highest for tweets regarding program and resident promotion as measured by likes-per-tweet and highest for program promotion and virtual events as measured by retweets-per-tweet. Given the nearly nationwide increase in Twitter engagement after pandemic onset, programs should consider the impact of Twitter as a means of communication with applicants and program branding.