Capsule Minds: Should You Be Tweetchatting in 2020?
Alok Patel, MD
Imagine being able to chat with a group of experts and curious individuals about a topic you deeply care about, in real time, from anywhere in the world. If social media and traditional journal clubs had a baby, it would be a “tweetchat.”
Tweetchats have the power to spread knowledge to thousands of eyes in minutes, while connecting people across the globe. You can be sitting in the comfort of your home while engaging in some serious intellectual banter, simultaneously networking, branding, and debating.
Now that you’re intrigued, let’s go over some tweetchat basics that I’ve assembled for the Association of Healthcare Social Media, the first nonprofit society dedicated to helping health professionals use social media effectively and responsibly.
The “chats” are a live conversation, between any number of people all within 280-words in the twittersphere. They’re organized in a simple “Q and A” format, make use of a specific hashtag for tracking, and usually last about an hour. A host or moderator will tweet out each question, in order as: Q1, Q2, and so forth. Then, people will respond back with A1, A2, etc. This format helps organize the chat and keeps participants up to speed with what question is being addressed.
There’s a Topic for Everyone
Tweetchats exist in every major industry; thus, there is something for everyone. You may be wondering how deep into healthcare they go and also if YOUR specific medical interest could be nurtured by a tweetchat. Well, be prepared for digital excitement. If you simply take a look at this schedule of upcoming tweetchats, you’ll see the topics range from multiple sclerosis to breast cancer to meditation to antimicrobial stewardship to palliative care–any and all health professionals can find a tweetchat to join.
Back to That Hashtag
Assuming you clicked that link and looked up all those wonderful, upcoming tweetchats, you may have noticed they were all associated with a hashtag. Hashtags are crucial for two reasons: they will help you actually find the tweetchat you want and they keep every question and answer in line with the chat. When it’s time to chat, you can simply search the hashtag. For example, if you would like to participate in a rheumatology tweetchat, at the proposed time, search for the corresponding hashtag, #Rheumchat, and you’ll see messages from the moderators and all the tweet questions. Again, remember to always include the hashtag in all your responses!
Okay, But Why Should I Participate?
The beauty of tweetchats, as well as that of social media in general, is the ability to connect with like-minded individuals instantaneously. On a tweetchat, you’re in a designated, digital space and your voice will be heard among industry leaders. You’ll be able to answer questions for curious participants and ask questions to build your own fund of knowledge.
During a tweetchat, hosts want to see engagement and spread the word, so your tweets are much more likely to be “liked” or “retweeted.” Also, many hosts will use an aggregator like Storify to create a summary of the entire chat, usually featuring the top ten tweets–yours could be one of them which would help establish you as a voice in that specific space.
Participation in a tweetchat can be a valuable way to network and build your brand. By participating, you will build contacts within your area of interest which can be used for future collaborations.
Tweetchat Tips for Success
Engage often. Don’t be afraid to “like” or “retweet” others’ questions and answers.
Try tagging people or organizations (with their Twitter handles) in your responses.
Using a video, GIF, infographic, or a simple picture will make your tweets more appealing and increase the likelihood of them being shared.
Just get started! There’s no barrier to entry and everything to gain!
Dr. Alok Patel is a pediatric hospitalist, television producer, media contributor, digital health enthusiast, and a self-proclaimed public health hypeman. He splits his time between New York City and San Francisco, serving on faculty at both Columbia University/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and the University of California San Francisco, Benioff Children’s Hospital. Dr. Patel is also a medical producer at CNN, hosts a video blog at Medscape, titled the “Hospitalist Retort,” and has contributed to digital videos and articles for several major news networks. He is on the Board of Directors for the Association for Healthcare Social Media.
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