Many have spent time addressing the misuse of social media by health care professionals. True, there are dangers of using social media without a policy in place, but my guess is that there is no lack of policy at your facility. Please review your facilities’ policy before starting to engage in social media for professional use, even if the use is under your own name. In my opinion, the time spent on the dangers of social media use has not been equal to the time spent speaking to the value of social media for professional use. This is unfortunate, as many influencers are in this space waiting to hear from you! Additionally, there is a generation who uses this platform almost exclusively as their preferred communication tool. There are many members of the public who need the knowledge you have, but e-mail and phone are not the best way to reach them. I’d like to share how I have found Twitter to be useful for me.
How to Start
Signing up for a Twitter account is very easy. You do not have to use your real name. You can always change your username later; just choose something that could be used on a resume, as this platform will reflect you professional brand. Start with a review of the Twitter feed of a nurse or disease association that you would like to follow. Take a look at the type of content they produce or curate. You can even go behind the scenes and see who this association is following for their information. Be sure to look at who they respect enough to follow for valuable information—you can learn a lot from this alone. You may wish to follow similar people or companies since you will now be feeding on the same information as this huge association. However, try to be selective about who you follow as your news feed may get cluttered with personal stories of others, which will not help with professional growth. An alternative to this would be to create a list of people who produce valuable content so you can always refer to this list for a quick update from time to time.
Listen Before Speaking
Spend time listening to conversations first. Notice what these associations or other influencers of your field are sharing with the public in terms of their content and tone of voice they are using. Twitter is not a place to vent or engage in negativity. Doing so will quickly detract from the brand you are establishing on this platform. One way to find relevant conversations is to use this platform as a powerful search engine. If I search for a topic in Google, the results may have broken links, or the information may not be up-to-date. Twitter yields more specific, up-to-date results. Peer-reviewed journals are very easy to find here as well. You may even be able to interact in real time with the authors or publishers of the journals.
Twitter as a Ear to Even More Conversations
Take the term value-based care. It is interesting to take a quick glance on the latest on this developing topic. Once you sign into Twitter, in the upper-right hand corner, search “#valuebasedcare” and look at who is speaking to this issue as well as what other topics they have tweeted about. Do you feel you have something of value to add to the conversation? This is an open conversation so there is no need to wait to be invited to the table. Some people still feel as though they need a more formal invitation. For that, participate in a Tweet chat. Find a relevant conversation with the Healthcare Hashtag Project. Select a topic that will highlight your expertise and join in the conversation! You can easily build profitable professional relationships, establish thought leadership, and demonstrate expertise on this social media platform.
Say you are a nurse speaker and you are curious about a particular nursing conference. You can easily find the name of the conference, the hashtags for that conference, and start learning! Often, conversations around the conference hashtags carry on months after the conference is over. For example, search for #AONE, which was used for the American Organization of Nurse Executives conference. You can still interact with any of these tweets.
I invite you all to take a moment to stop looking for an invitation to join the conversation, pull up a chair, and share your value.