The Orthodontics Professors
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Are Patients More Likely to Be Positive or Negative on Social Media? Data from Twitter
BY TATE H. JACKSON AND CLARKE STEVENS
A study just published in the Angle Orthodontist has analyzed 419,363 tweets, shared publicly regarding the patient experience with either traditional fixed appliances or Invisalign®. The data were collected over a period of five months from April to September in 2015 and analyzed by sentiment analysis using Naïve Bayes classifiers.
Tweets were identified by the use of the keywords “braces” or “Invisalign” and filtered using software so that content irrelevant to orthodontics (braces as a term for suspenders in fashion, for example) was excluded. All tweets relevant to orthodontics with either keyword were then classified in sentiment as positive, negative, neutral, or as an advertisement.
Overall, more tweets about orthodontic treatment were positive (62%) than negative (38%). There was no statistically significant difference in the proportion of positive tweets when comparing traditional braces to Invisalign®. More individuals tweeted about braces than Invisalign®, and 1/3 of all the tweets involving Invisalign® were classified as advertisements. Generally, positive tweets most often focused on gratitude while negative tweets most often focused on pain.
WHAT THE PROFESSORS THINK
The topic and methodology of this study are certainly relevant to those practicing in the era of social media. The use of a simplified sentiment analysis was evidence-based, and the authors used adequate search terms and a human-defined pool of categorized terms of adequate size to train the software for the larger analysis that took place.
The authors did not analyze if tweets originated from individuals associated with an orthodontics practice. Although that may be impossible to do effectively, it is important to interpret the data with that fact in mind.
Although this study only presents data from one form of social media, it does have some interesting ramifications for practicing orthodontists.
First, the fact that more than 400,000 tweets published over a five month period involved orthodontic treatment reinforces the power of social media in the public discourse relative to orthodontics.
Second, the majority of tweets were positive in nature, a point that might reassure orthodontists that the profession is viewed favorably. The magnitude of positive sentiment reported (62%) can serve as a sort of evidence-based benchmark for individual practices. If an analysis of a practices’ social media references shows a lower proportion of positive comments, it might be an objective reason for concern on the part of the practice.
Third, it is also interesting to note that despite the fact that there were more tweets related to traditional braces overall, there was a much higher proportion of advertising related to Invisalign®.
33% of all tweets related to Invisalign® were advertisements, compared to only 7% for braces. Again, for clinicians in practice who want some sort of evidence-based benchmark related to the density of advertising for either traditional braces or Invisalign® using social media, these data give some insight.
Article Reviewed: Noll et. al. Twitter analysis of the orthodontic patient experience with braces vs. Invisalign. The Angle Orthodontist. Online Early, Jan 2017.
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Tate H. Jackson, DDS, MS