To assess the role of influential figures within social media (SoMe) in driving future citations.
All original articles published in the Journal of Urology (JU) and European Urology (EU) in 2018 were identified. For each article, number of mentions on any SoMe platform, article’s Twitter reach, and total citations were collected. Article characteristics such as type of study, article topic, and open access status were identified. Total academic research output was obtained for first and last authors of included articles.
Influential SoMe figures were defined as users that tweeted about included articles and had over 2000 followers. For these accounts, we collected total followers, total tweets, engagement statistics, verification status, and academic characteristics such as total citations and total prior publications. The impact of social media, article, and academic characteristics on future citations was assessed using panel data regression analysis.
We identified 394 articles with 8,895 total citations and 460 SoMe influencers. On panel data regression modeling, tweets about a specific article were associated with future citations (0.17 citations per tweet about an article, p<0.001). SoMe influencer characteristics were not associated with increased citations (p>0.05).
The following non-SoMe-associated characteristics were predictive of future citations (p<0.001): study type (prospective studies received 12.9 more citations than cross-sectional studies), open access status (4.3 citations more if open access, p<0.001), and previously well-published first and last authors.
While SoMe posts are associated with increased visibility and higher future citation rates, SoMe influencers do not appear to drive these outcomes. Instead, high quality and accessibility were more predictive of future citability.