Social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are great mediums to read articles and follow health care organizations, research and news. It’s important to keep up with your industry – for PAs that would be medicine – and trends in patient care and Canadian health care. Think about what your goals for using twitter will be:
- Reading health care news
- PA advocacy (hashtags #CanadaNeedsPAs)
- Networking with other health care professionals (messaging/retweeting other providers, tweetchats)
- Interacting with patient and provider community groups (#epatient)
- Raising awareness about different charitable causes, health promotion
Read our first part in this four part series on Why Physician Assistants Need to get on Twitter.
Step 1: Sign up for Twitter
Go to twitter.com/signup, and register for a twitter account. Choose a unique username. I prefer one without numbers and I choose to include CCPA at the end of mine. You can always change your username later.
Step 2: Setup your Twitter Account
To customize your profile you need to put your twitter page on “Edit Mode”. To do this, go to your profile page (twitter.com/yourusername) and click the “Edit” button on the right hand side.
a) Upload a new Cover Photo and Profile Photo
Step 3: Write your 1st Tweet
a) Tweet with Text Only
In your tweet, add some text and use a hashtag. You can use a minimum of 140 characters.
Use Hashtags A pound sign (#) in front of a topic creates a link in your twitter post to any conversation related to that topic. For example inserting a hashtag like so: #PhysicianAssistants, will gather all tweets that mention Physician Assistants onto one page in a search. Many users and organizations have used the hashtag feature to focus twitter conversations around certain topics. Try to include a hashtag with every tweet you send out.
b) Tweet with Picture
In Social Media marketing, adding a picture to your tweets increases the likelihood of your followers engaging with the tweet. Adding a picture means that your tweet takes up more space on a twitter feed. Adding a picture does not take up any of your 140 character limit! Simply click on the photo icon, and upload a photo. If you’re looking for a free photo to use to enhance your tweet, consider using free creative license sites (that require no credit to photographer) like unsplash.com or pexels.com.
c) Tweet with a Link
You can also add a link to your tweet as well that your followers can click on. I recommend that you add the title of the article OR pull a quote or fact from the article that you would find useful. Don’t just paste the article leave the tweet as is. You’re less likely to get engagement (clicks, replies, or retweets) if you just tweet a link without any context. Don’t forget to include hashtags with your tweet!
Step 4: Customize your Twitter Feed
Like a Facebook feed, you can pick and choose who shows up on your twitter feed. My feed is full of Physician Assistants, physicians who tweet about issues in health care, Canadian politicians, Canadian hospitals, Canadian CHCs, and FHTs, PA schools (Canadian), and Canadian health care organizations (e.g. medical associations, MOHLTC, etc).
a) Follow People
our timeline consists of tweets of people that you follow. If you follow celebrities your timeline will primarily compromise of Hollywood banter and gossip. If you follow athletes, you’ll get to see live updates of different athletes, coaches, and teams. If you follow health care professionals (e.g. Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, Health Care Organizations) your timeline will compromise of topics, tidbits, pearls, and issues relevant in health care. Who to follow? And how do you find the right people to follow? It’s a good question, and leads to the next point:
b) Follow Lists
You can choose to create and/or follow lists. Twitter lists comprise of twitter users relevant to a certain topic. You can choose to subscribe to a list, which automatically subscribes you to every twitter user on that list. Here are a few lists that may be worth following:
- Canadian MPs on Twitter
- Office of Premier of Ontario’s – List of Health Sector Twitter Users (includes hospitals)
- @CanadianPA – Health Care Organizations in Canada (includes hospitals, CHCs, patient advocacy groups)
- @CanadianPA – PA Organizations
- @CanadianPA – List of Canadian Physician Assistants on Twitter
The quickest way of following tweets under a certain topic is using hashtags, or typing a topic into the search bar. Here is an example of what tweets come up when you look up #PhysicianAssistants. You’ll notice, topics from Canadian Physician Assistants / Canadian PA organizations dominate the top tweets (@MPASA_Mac, @AnneCCPA, and @PhysicianAssist). Want to know what hashtags to follow? Be sure to see @symplur’s Canadian Healthcare Hashtags.
Step 5: Join the Conversation
Posting to twitter is more than just posting a status and hoping the relevant demographic happens to stumble upon it. Here’s how to take advantage of twitter features to ensure that your conversation is having meaningful impact:
a) Use Hashtags
A pound sign (#) in front of a topic creates a link in your twitter post to any conversation related to that topic. For example inserting a hashtag like so: #PhysicianAssistants, will gather all tweets that mention Physician Assistants onto one page. Many users and organizations have used the hashtag feature to focus twitter conversations around certain topics (See resources at the end of the post for useful Canadian health care social media links).
Here is an example of the use of hashtags: Like this example below discussing which hashtags Physician Assistant and University of Manitoba.
b) Interact with your Followers
Twitter is more than just posting announcements out into cyberspace. The nature of the platform is very interactive. Twitter users may reply to some of your tweets, retweet articles they want to pass on to their followers, or recommend you as someone to follow. Your reach to stakeholders in the PA profession is often dependent on how you effectively communicate with your twitter community.
c) Retweet relevant tweets
When you see a tweet that you’d like to share with your followers, there is the option to “Retweet” that message, which saves you the time of copying and pasting the message. Just hover over the tweet and select “Retweet” (underlined in purple).
d) Direct Messages
Place “DM” in front of a tweet to a user and this will allow for a direct inbox message to another twitter user. I find this especially useful if you want to thank followers individually for the following your account, to post topics, or to exchange contact information.
Health Care Related Twitter Links
User Guides to Twitter
If you signed up for a Twitter account, let us know your username in the comments! If you already have an account, let us know some of your favourite Twitter accounts you follow.
To learn some great Twitter Do’s and Don’ts, view our post on Twitter Etiquette. If you’re ready to do some advanced networking on twitter, head over to our post on Twitter Hashtags and Tweet chats.
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