The pattern and use of Twitter among dental schools in Saudi Arabia

 

Abstract

Objective

Twitter as a social media platform has revolutionized the way we interact with others and receive information. The presence of dental schools in Twitter facilitates the engagement of students, educators, dental professionals, and the community. Given the explosive popularity of Twitter as a social media platform and its potential use in the areas of education and branding, the questions of why and how dental schools use these services warrant comprehensive research. Thus, the aim of this study was to analyze the pattern and use of Twitter as a social media platform for dental schools in Saudi Arabia.

Methods

The tweets were extracted within the timeframe from July 15, 2019, to July 15, 2020. The Twitter data collected included: full text content, the count of retweets, quotes, replies and likes. Extracted tweets were categorized into five main themes: news and announcement, dental professional communication, general communication, oral health education, and promoting participation. Tweets in each main theme were further categorized according to the dental schools’ academic roles namely; education, research and community service. In addition, tweets were classified according to originality of the tweet, language used, nature of the tweet and the use of hashtags and mentions. Descriptive analysis presented in the form of frequency tables with percentages and mean (SD) as well as graphical presentation of the pattern and use of Twitter for Saudi dental schools in the form of bar, pie and line charts. Categorical data were analyzed using chi square test, while continuous data were analyzed using ANOVA. Statistical significance was set at p ≤ 0.05.

Results

A total of 15 Saudi dental schools with Twitter accounts were included in the analysis. King Saud University (KSU) had the largest number of followers with 17,200. Within the time frame of this study, a total of 1,889 original tweets from dental schools were found. Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University (IAU) had the highest number of posted tweets (n = 647, 34.3%). The distribution of tweets was highest in September 2019 (n = 239) and lowest in July 2020 (n = 22). Majority of the tweets (81.9%) belonged to five out of the 15 dental schools. News and announcements were the most tweeted thematic subject with 1,034 tweets (55%). While community service was the most tweeted academic role with 803 tweets (42%). The top five active dental schools’ performance for both thematic and academic role classifications were significantly different based on the chi square test (p < 0.001).

Conclusion

This study highlights the importance of Twitter as a social media platform, in dental education especially when it comes to presence and branding for dental schools. Twitter is a helpful platform to expose dental schools to the community, this can be seen by their academic achievements as well as their active role with community service.

 

 

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Mahmoud H. Al-Johani

Author Mahmoud H. Al-Johani

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