In #emconf (that’s EM Conference!) today, within a talk on social media and medical education, I gave a short beginner’s workshop on using Twitter for professional and educational purposes. I recommend that you have a Twitter account dedicated to professional networking and education, which you use to engage with other emergency physicians (or professionals in other fields from whom you’d like to learn. I follow surgeons, internists, nurses, education experts–even a rheumatologist or two for good measure!)
Follow Kim Kardashian and tweet your cat pictures from your personal account. Use a separate account for your real professional persona, to follow and interact with ACEP, SAEM, AAEM, EMRA, other EM residencies, researchers, educational sources, and medical colleagues–here and all around the world.
A great place for an overall Twitter introduction is Dr. Joyce Lee’s Twitter SuperUser site. Check it out, and the links that she provides. (This is a general introduction to the physician on Twitter, not necessarily geared towards academics and medical education.)
Here are links to the handouts provided today. The first includes a list of resources about the Free Open Access Med-ucation movement (FOAM),some interesting EM blogs to follow, and how Twitter connects it all in an ongoing conversation. (For example, this video is a basic introduction for educators.)
The second handout is a step-by-step ‘how-to’ guide to starting a Twitter account for professional use (emergency medicine specific), finding interesting accounts to follow, and some advice on the bare basics of tweeting.
Follow the steps, and once you get your account and profile set up, you can follow me (@GitaPensaMD), @BrownEMRes, or other EM folks you know (we have some major Twitter ‘influencers’ at Brown EM, such as Esther Choo and Megan Ranney), and look at our “Following” lists. (Mine is short by Twitter standards, but is slowly getting bigger and more diverse.)
From those lists, select people you’d be interested in hearing from or engaging with professionally. Then check their lists. And so on. Also, find any medical organizations, publications, or blogs you’re interested in–chances are they’re tweeting, too.
If you’ve got those handout tips down, here are a few extra tips:
- Download the mobile Twitter app, and turn on ‘notifications‘ so you know when someone is tweeting to you, replying to you, mentioning you, newly following you, or re-tweeting something you’ve posted. (The app does not have all of the features that the actual site does, but it’s great for on-the-go.)
- If a tweet in your timeline seems like it doesn’t make sense standing alone, it might be part of a whole conversation. Click ‘view conversation’ or on the tweet itself, to see the rest of the related tweets. (Then chime in!)
- “Favoriting” something saves it in your ‘favorites’ list; you can find it there later. It also can promote the tweet, and make the tweeter happy 🙂
- Retweeting to your followers also makes Tweeps happy! Retweeting counts as a tweet from you, so it will stay on your profile page. (Retweet @BrownEMRes tweets!)
- When you see interesting tweets, check out the person behind them. You might want to follow them too. Remember, diverse networks foster innovation. You can always “Unfollow” people if you don’t like what you’re getting on your timeline.
- Check in frequently, and just read the tweets (“lurking”). Click through on interesting links, “favorite” things, retweet them. I promise, things will start to make sense, and the #s, @s, and abbreviations will become familiar.
- Once you are following lots of people, you can make lists that filter out certain accounts; you could have, say, a list of “Educators” or “Ultrasound Experts” or “EM Residency Blogs.” Lists can be public or private; check out the public lists of those you follow.
- Check out the TweetED iOS app, which filters for tweets with #FOAMed, #FOAMcc, #FOAMpeds, and #FOAMtox. Great for a quick FOAM fix while waiting in line at the store.
- You can delete tweets you send out, usually by clicking on the menu (dots) near the favorites/retweet buttons. You can also block people you don’t want tweeting to you.
- And here’s a suggestion tweeted to me by @MDaware after original posting–because of course I put this out on Twitter!–know that if you start a post with @name, not many people will see it. Put another character before the @, or put the @name after other words, if you want it widely seen. Here’s the suggested reference: “Mom, This is How Twitter Works”. Don’t forget to add a relevant hashtag for even greater visibility.
Like everything else, the best way to really master Twitter is to start doing it. There’s a learning curve–but if you hang around, you might just become a regular on the Twitter scene.
Got any other Twitter tips? Share them in the comments!