What is it?
Twitter is a free service that allows registered users to share content, resources and opinions in a brief 140 character “headline” that often links to a website or other resource. The growth in usage of smartphones has made Twitter an ideal source for news content while on the go. After you sign up, you can “follow” other users to see their Tweets on a personalized homepage. You can choose who to follow based on their interests and main subject areas.
How can you use it in your work?
Twitter allows organizations to spread their knowledge, expertise and news further and broader, reaching audiences that may be powerful supporters. Twitter also acts as “radar” allowing them to take the pulse of their communities in regards to certain subjects.
Within Twitter, dialogues on specific topics can be spontaneous or scheduled and organized by various groups. Using a hashtag (ie: #CHCChat) in each post — a hashtag is just a word preceded by a “#” character, allowing for easy searching — users can follow the conversation.
The Twitter community is an up to date environment where users are receptive to feedback, sharing and support.
How to get it
Go to Twitter and sign up for a free account.
Try it out
- Send your own update (this is much like updating your Facebook status).
- Find a few people to follow.
- Reply to their messages using "@" in front of their username.
- HC Link has created this toolkit to help any organization get started with social media
- Beth Kanter put together this step-by-step guide to setting up your Twitter account and getting started.
- For health promotion and health care and social media there are two weekly chats that take place. Each week these chats explore a different question: Health Care and Social Media Canada - #hcsmca and Community Health Centres Chat - #CHCChat
- Health Nexus launched a monthly Twitter Chat on health promotion- #HealthPromoChat. Monthly chats feature questions relevant to health promotion and the social determinants of health and various guest hosts.
- The US Department of Health and Human Services has put together this great guide to hosting Twitter Chats
- Twitter can be a valuable source of information for those doing research. The London School of Economics produced this useful document that introduces the Twitter basics and modes of finding relevant information.
- A list of practical hashtags for those working in health promotion. Some hashtags that are missing from this list are #healthpromotion, #healthequity.
- A good guide to hashtags – what they are, how to use them.
- Evaluating Social Media’s Capacity to Develop Engaged Audiences in Health Promotion Settings- Use of Twitter Metrics as a Case Study