Hashtag Medicine: Tweeting at ASCO

Liz Neporent

May 31, 2019

Some of the most insightful discussions that will take place during this week's American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago won't be in the meeting rooms, exhibit halls, or walkways of McCormick Place. They'll happen on social media, particularly on Twitter. During last year's conference, more than 17,000 healthcare professionals, researchers, news outlets, patients, and advocates sent more than 80,000 tweets over 5 days.

To participate in the ASCO Twitter conversation, make sure to use #ASCO19, the conference's official hashtag, in all of your tweets. A lively online dialog in the week before this year's meeting included nearly 5000 tweets using the designated hashtag, according to data obtained by Symplur, a social media listening tool dedicated to healthcare topics.


During the same time period, about 500 tweets used the incorrect hashtag, #ASCO2019. As a result, they received significantly less engagement (eg, likes, retweets, comments). Regardless of where the correct hashtag appears in your post, it will be searchable on Twitter, so it doesn't matter if you use it at the beginning, the end, or somewhere in the middle of your 280 characters.

Note that oncology tweeters often employ "micro-hashtags" to help focus on a specific condition. For example, #lcsm — short for lung cancer social media — is frequently used in clinical and academic lung cancer Twitter discussions. Oncologists use #lcsm nearly three times more than the hashtag #LungCancer. Users sometimes add hashtags like #NSCLC (non-small cell lung cancer) and #immunotherapy when they drill down even further on the topic.


Other popular oncology micro-hashtags you're likely to see in your timeline during the conference:

#bcsm — breast cancer social media

#crcsm — colorectal cancer social media

#gerionc — geriatric oncology

#gyncsm — gynecological cancer social media

#hpm — hospice and palliative medicine

#leusm — leukemia social media

#lymsm — lymphoma social media

#mmsm — multiple myeloma social media

#PallOnc — palliative oncology (capitalize as shown)

#pancsm — pancreatic cancer social media

#radonc — radiation oncology

#SBRT — stereotactic body radiation therapy (capitalize as shown)

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