The number of pharmacists on twitter is growing as professional societies, businesses, and individuals are becoming more aware of how it can be a powerful tool for connecting, sharing, and learning. This article identifies some simple things pharmacists on twitter (novice or experienced) can do to be more effective.
The number of pharmacists on Twitter is not currently known and it is likely that the majority of pharmacists do not use Twitter. However, in recent years many journals, societies, businesses, and individuals within the profession of pharmacy have become active on Twitter.
One example where pharmacists are becoming very active on Twitter comes from The American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP). This organization has a number of groups within it’s ranks that are categorized by specialties and termed Practice and Research Networks (PRN). An unofficial count in June 2017 shows 7 of the ACCP PRNs have twitter accounts, each of which is managed by a group of members in the organization. This is in addition to the main account for the society (@ACCP) and the society’s journal (@PharmacoJournal).
It seems evident that for the foreseeable future Twitter will continue to be a relevant social media platform for the pharmacy profession. As more pharmacists become active on Twitter, they will likely wonder how they can be more effective in they way they compose their Tweets and connect with others.
What being effective on Twitter means depends on the goals of the individual. However, there are some things nearly all pharmacists on Twitter can do to help them achieve their goals. The following provides five simple steps pharmacists on Twitter can take to use this powerful tool more effectively.
1. Use photos, screenshots and/or emojis when you tweet
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. When it comes to social media, this is definitely the case.
While someone is scrolling through their Twitter feed full of tweets from the people they follow, they are much more likely to notice a tweet that has a picture. Not only is it more eye-catching than text, pictures are easier to interpret, because reading text takes longer than looking at a picture. Using emoji symbols (sparingly) can also help the viewer identify the theme or emotion you are attempting to convey.
If you are tweeting a link to a journal article for example, take a screen shot of the title and authors with your phone, then use the photo editor in Twitter to crop the photo to your liking. Compose your tweet, add the link to the article, throw in an emoji or two, and then your tweet will be much more aesthetically pleasing.
You may not be able to make a topic more interesting, but you can make the way you present the content you share more interesting. This can translate to more likes, comments, retweets, and followers.
Here is an example:
2. Mention other accounts and tag others in photos when you tweet
Most people have their account set up so that they will receive a notification if they are mentioned in a tweet or tagged in a photo. This means if you mention them or tag them in a photo you are tweeting, they will see it if they check their notifications.
Mentioning other accounts is also a means for calling out great work. This could be mentioning the journal in which a paper was published, mentioning an author on a paper, or mentioning a group that has accomplished something.
Social media is all about supporting each other, not competition. The more you help others get acknowledged, the more likely they will be to acknowledge you and everybody wins.
Be careful not to mention or tag the same people too often and note some accounts are restricted so you cannot tag them in photos.
3. Sign up for the electronic table of contents alerts from a few of your favorite journals, then tweet about interesting articles
Figuring out what to tweet about does not need to be difficult. If you sign up for the electronic table of contents (eTOC) from two or three journals that you typically browse through, topics to tweet about will come to you.
You can also get advanced access to publications through the eTOC route, which means you can be the first to share an article with your twitter community. Tweeting about meaningful or interesting articles helps extend the reach of the authors’ work and helps other people on Twitter stay up to date with the literature.
A word of warning is to not sign up for too many eTOC email alerts. This can be overwhelming and annoying. Additionally on this point, make sure you check your Twitter alert settings too. It is unlikely you will not want an email alert for all of the options Twitter provides.
4. Identify hashtags used during professional meetings and join the conversation
Don’t have the time or money to go to a professional meeting? No problem! Attendees at major scientific meetings (including pharmacy) are tweeting out content more and more.
Many conference organizers now even encourage the use of social media, because it helps increase their impact. When there is a conference coming up for a society or organization you like, find out what the hashtag is and then follow it during the meeting. While following the content do not be afraid to put in your 2-cents, use the hashtag to share relevant content, and retweet others.
One example to check out comes from the popular American Society of Health-System Pharmacy’s Midyear Clinical Meeting. Last year their hashtag was #ASHP16 and if you search it on Twitter now you can see some of the activity from last December. Over 7,000 tweets included #ASHP16 during the conference time with over 1,300 participants. Here is some data from the www. symplur.com healthcare hashtag project showing activity during the conference, which was December 4th-8th, 2016:
5. Participate in Twitter chats
What is a Twitter chat? Good question! Twitter chats are when people use a hashtag to have a discussion about a topic. Usually there is an account that leads the Twitter chat. Using the same hashtag in all the tweets allows people to search for the hashtag and then follow all of the chatter going on.
Twitter chats can be managed in different ways. There is a monthly Twitter chat you can view and join in with via #ASPchat that is hosted by @ASP_chat and details are here. Be on the lookout for Twitter chats hosted by individuals, organizations, and businesses.
Participating in Twitter chats will let other people know that you exist and is a great way for you to find interesting people to connect and learn from.
Here are a few other things to consider, related to this topic…
- Use Twitter lists to follow small groups of accounts you find relevant
- Unfollow accounts that you no longer find relevant
- Do not follow people with a high number of people they follow, but a low number of followers
- Do not follow people who have not tweeted in a long time
- Limit the amount of time you spend on Twitter each day and only check it a few times a day at the most
- Use the draft feature to compose posts, then publish them at opportune times
- Search hashtags to find relevant content, then re-post it and bring it to your audience
- Target specific audiences and help bring the good content they might otherwise miss
- Tell stories that are impactful / inspiring
- Have fun, but know when to be silly
- Do not be afraid to develop amazing relationships!
See you on Twitter!
[Last updated June 2017]
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