Twitter 101 for healthcare


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Presentation given to American Health Care class at Brandeis on 10/20/10

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  • I know that some folks think that texting has gotten out of hand. And that Twitter is just an extension of this – that it’s another way to share with people the inane things you are doing. But we’re here today to look at ways that Twitter is a tool that can be much more than a way to let others know what you had for lunch. Of course, it can also be totally stupid, too, depending on the user.
  • Twitter is… real time global news. When protests were happening in Iran, people turned to twitter to see what was happening. Same with the earthquake in Haiti. Same when the plane landed in the Hudson. It is where regular citizens get to share what they are seeing at that very moment. This makes it a powerful tool – it’s a democratization of information.
  • Twitter is… growing. This makes it that much more important to know how to navigate through the stream of information that is delivered. It can seem entirely overwhelming, but you can manage the networks, work with the crowds, build relationships, and become a better listener. That’s why you are here! Before we dive in too far, let’s review some language basics. Like many other tools, this one comes with some terminology. What’s interesting about Twitter’s terms is that they were created by the users themselves. They have since become convention. When you have only 140 characters you need to get creative! Knowing them will help you make sense of some of the messages you see.
  • Lingo Following: you can follow individuals one by one, or follow many at once using lists. I’ll go into more detail on this in a bit. Followers: Does the number of followers you have mean anything? Yes and no. More opportunity to influence, but not guaranteed. Particularly with lists (collections of users gathered by one user to share) becoming more popular, someone can follow you as part of a list without knowing they are following you, per se. DM does not go to the public timeline/feed. @user does (found if searched)
  • # being used more and more to help organize the volume of data coming through on twitter. Example: within a conference, each session may have a separate hashtag to help sort later on. Twitter does not archive these messages forever, but there are free services (example: twapperkeeper) that will do this for you. It becomes a very useful source of information, often containing links, images, conversations that are relevant. Shortened URLs are helpful to take long strings of letters and numbers, and make them shorter. Remember: 140 characters. Lots of services out there for this: tiny URL, owly, bitly… they are often built into third party tools that support twitter. Trending topics change all the time. is a crowdsourced, and generally accurate, way to find out what they are about if it isn’t clear.
  • You don’t need an account to use Twitter. And whether you have an account or not, the most important thing you can do is LISTEN. See what others are saying. Learn why people are passionate. Learn how they are using twitter. See how others make connections. Listening can help you get a sense of how you want to engage on Twitter
  • Asking questions is a good use of Twitter for a number of reasons: You can get answers People can retweet, widening the circle of potential help, and helping you to widen your own network People like to share what they know – engagement You get get insight to who is following you Answering someone else’s question is a great way to show you are out there and engaged. Everyone likes a helper. 
  • Twitter provides a new avenue for organizations to share research, news, updates, and reports. Note that the example here is a retweet, meaning one person saw it, found it valuable, and shared it with her own network. The end result is groups reaching into networks previously untouched. For free, I might add.
  • Making connections
  • A key hub for real-time information and communication
  • Follow 5 new people – see who they “listen” to, then five more, then five more – watch the conversation happen
  • Twitter 101 for healthcare

    1. 1. Twitter 101 for Health Care Jodi Sperber, MSW, MPH October 20, 2010
    2. 2. Before you take notes… <ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. What we’ll cover <ul><li>Twitter basics </li></ul><ul><li>Examples </li></ul><ul><li>Getting started </li></ul><ul><li>Tools that make it easier </li></ul><ul><li>Best practices </li></ul>
    4. 5. Photo credit: kevharb, via Creative Commons license All if this, and you want me to tweet?
    5. 6. <ul><li>“ Many people have assumed that Twitter is just another social network, some kind of micro-blogging service, or both. It can be these things but primarily Twitter serves as a real-time information network powered by people around the world discovering what’s happening and sharing the news.” </li></ul>Photo credit: Terje S. Skerdal, via Creative Commons license
    6. 7. People have a lot to say <ul><li>Updated numbers: </li></ul><ul><li>As of June 2010, Twitter averages: </li></ul><ul><li>750 tweets per second </li></ul><ul><li>65 million tweets per day </li></ul>
    7. 8. Photo Credit: emerald isle druid, via Creative Commons license
    8. 9. <ul><li>A tweet is an individual message </li></ul><ul><li>To follow somebody is to subscribe to their messages. This does not mean they will also follow you. </li></ul><ul><li>A DM or direct message is a private message on Twitter. Often written simply as D. </li></ul><ul><li>RT or retweet is to repost a valuable message from somebody else on Twitter and give them credit </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sometimes noted as “via” instead of RT </li></ul></ul>Photo credit jovike, used via Creative Commons license Adapted from Twitter 101 for Business
    9. 10. <ul><li>@username is a public message to or about an individual on Twitter </li></ul><ul><li>A hashtag —the # symbol followed by a term and included in tweets—is a way of categorizing all the posts on a topic </li></ul><ul><li>Shortened URLs . To fit links into the short message format, URLs are oftened shortened. Can be accomplished using a variety of services. </li></ul><ul><li>Trending topics are the most-discussed terms on Twitter at any given moment </li></ul>Photo credit jovike, used via Creative Commons license Adapted from Twitter 101 for Business
    10. 11. Anatomy of a tweet
    11. 12. <ul><li>First step: </li></ul><ul><li>Listen </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Try searching </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>for a few keywords or topics </li></ul></ul>Photo credit: Erica Reid, used via Creative Commons license
    12. 13. Developments Research Meetings and Conference Info Q&A Conversations Chit Chat Campaigns What do you hear? Photo credit: bullcitydogs, via Creative Commons license
    13. 14. Photo credit samcrockett, via Creative Commons license Asking questions
    14. 15. Photo credit: Sifter, used via Creative Commons license Sharing information
    15. 16. Photo by kevharb, via Creative Commons license Connecting
    16. 17. Real time news
    17. 18. Start a conversation
    18. 19. More on conversations
    19. 21. Full list here:
    20. 22. Photo Credit: arbyreed, via Creative Commons license Does it feel anything like this?
    21. 23. You can do it! Really! <ul><li>People like tips, links to interesting stories and blog posts (they don’t have to be about you), and a good sense of humor. </li></ul><ul><li>People like the human touch and will appreciate posts with your thoughts and experiences more than you think </li></ul><ul><li>They also like it when you say hi, respond to their questions, comments, praise, complaints and jokes </li></ul>Photo credit: kate.e did, via Creative Commons license Adapted from Twitter 101 for Business
    22. 24. Getting started <ul><li>Signing up takes approximately one minute </li></ul>
    23. 25. To help people recognize and trust your account, fill out your profile completely and include a picture Adapted from Twitter 101 for Business
    24. 26. This is where you type your 140
    25. 27. Follow relevant accounts <ul><li>Following somebody means you’ve subscribed to their tweets </li></ul><ul><li>When you find a good candidate, look under their picture for the Follow button </li></ul><ul><li>Start small – follow five. Listen for a while. Then follow five more. </li></ul><ul><li>Lists are also useful for finding/creating groups on a specific topic </li></ul>Adapted from Twitter 101 for Business
    26. 28. Get a jump start <ul><li>Follow a list of users that someone else has already created </li></ul><ul><li>@jsirkin/healthpolicy </li></ul>
    27. 29. That’s the basics! But it’s only the beginning…
    28. 30. TweetDeck HootSuite
    29. 31. TweetDeck: desktop based This is where you type your 140
    30. 32. HootSuite: web based Search term Type 140 here Mentions Integration Integration
    31. 33. Best practices <ul><li>Build relationships on Twitter </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Listen for comments about you </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Respond to comments and queries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ask questions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Post links to things people would find interesting </li></ul></ul>Adapted from Twitter 101 for Business
    32. 34. Best practices <ul><li>Retweet messages you find interesting/valuable </li></ul><ul><li>Use a friendly, casual tone </li></ul><ul><li>Do. Not. Spam. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t tweet anything you wouldn’t want your mother to read… </li></ul>
    33. 35. <ul><li>“ No matter how sophisticated the algorithms get, no matter how many machines we add to the network, our work is not about the triumph of technology, it is about the triumph of humanity.” </li></ul>