Did I miss the Twitter Bandwagon?

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I was never much of a Twitter fan. The whole concept of updating everyone on what I am doing at any particular moment seemed odd. I could deal with Facebook, since it was a way to share pictures and videos with my friends, but just every day updates seemed a bit excessive.

However, our generation continues to want everything to be available instantaneously. An article appeared in the Boston Globe that summarized this phenomenon perfectly “The growing culture of impatience“. We can get our food delivered to us, our dogs walked, our laundry done, our apartments cleaned, and our dates chosen for us, without having to leave the house. So why expect anyone to be willing to spend their time researching about various public health movements and initiatives? Enter the world of Twitter. By using this platform, organizations like the CDC, can inform their followers regarding any outbreaks, innovations, or updates in the public health field. The followers get a short blurb that summarized all of the key information instantaneously on their computer or mobile device and then everyone is happy. There is no need to do any research or contact anyone to find out the information.

Twitter can also be used to create relevant #hashtags for people to follow, which makes learning about a specific topic even easier. For instance, the #ebola is used by various organizations, so that all of the information regarding ebola can be found in one place. If you want to know about the current treatment options, funding, government legislations and etc., just enter the hashtag into your search field and you are done. It can’t get any easier than that!

Another great advantage of Twitter is that it only allows for short blurbs, rather than the ability to post long text. Off course one can always go on a Twitter rant (like the recent Jim Carrey rant about vaccines, which I mentioned in my previous blog), but most people want to just get the key points of a topic and then do more research, if they so choose. If one sees a catchy Tweet about a new treatment option, they are a lot more likely to read about it, then if they receive a lot of information up front. People don’t have the time to sit down and read a bunch of information that they may, or may  not even need. So the shorter the summary, the better.

As sad as it may be, we are becoming more and more of an instantaneous culture. We are all in a constant rush and don’t always have the time to watch the news, or read a newspaper. As such, it only makes sense that public health organizations find ways, like Twitter, to help keep the general public in the loop on important issues. So while I may not be personally jumping on the Twitter bandwagon, I can appreciate the impact the public health organizations can make when using it. Since Twitter and other microblogs are already embedded into our culture, might as well make the most of it! #winning

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5 thoughts on “Did I miss the Twitter Bandwagon?

  1. Hi Luda,

    This is an interesting post, I like how you talked about the value of having a Twitter account for public health organizations which makes it easier for people to follow topics of interest and provides a strategic (and relevant) platform for the organization to promote awareness. I like how you gave an example of the CDC in your post, as a good example of microblogging on Twitter. Considering that the CDC is a reputable and well-known organization, I would have been interested to know if they have any guidelines or recommendations to offer to other public health organizations. Sure enough, I found the CDC’s, “Social Media Guidelines and Best Practices” online which you can view here: http://www.cdc.gov/SocialMedia/Tools/guidelines/pdf/microblogging.pdf

    This short document did a great job of outlining and describing the following best practices to follow before using Twitter:

    1. Clearly Define Your Objectives
    2. Know Your Target Audience(s)
    3. Determine Resource Needs
    4. Keep Your Content Short and Simple
    5. Determine Schedule and Frequency of Twitter Posts
    6. Conduct Promotion Activities
    7. Determine Approach for Engaging with Twitter Followers
    8. Evaluate
    9. Establish a Records Management System

    I think your blog would have belonged in the strategy or leadership and management category if you summarized these best practices. The document goes into a fair amount of detail – enough to explain what each of these best practices entails. To break up the text, it would be nice to include screenshots of CDC tweets that demonstrates each of these best practices. This would not only provide visual examples but it would also give those reading your blog a framework to follow when learning about the art of “microblogging”.

    See below for a suggestion about how to present each of the best practices in your blog (using #4 as an example):
    —————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
    4) Keep your Content Short and Simple

    Technically, the maximum character limit for a tweet is 140 characters, but CDC’s Electronic Media Branch recommends to keep the length even shorter! Therefore, it is recommended to use only 120 characters (including URL, punctuation and spaces) which makes it even easier for your followers to retweet your message without having to make any edits. Here’s an example of a recent tweet from CDC which follows this guidelines. It’s short and sweet, and gets the message cross:

    [insert screenshot here].

    —————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

    Keep up the blogging Luda!

  2. Shannon, thanks so much for the great info you provided! I really like the best practices that CDC outlines. Something that I personally looked a lot into is “determining schedule and frequency of posts”. When we were developing the blog for our company, we wanted to ensure that our blog was active, but also didn’t want to bombard people with too many posts. I think people get a bit overwhelmed when there is a lot of information constantly thrown at them, so its best to time your posts appropriately. One thing that I found to be successful was creating “mini series”. We would post on one topic (ex: infectious disease) once per week. This way our followers became used to our timing, and they knew that every Monday there would be a post on infectious diseases.

    • Thanks again for sharing your experience Luda, this really helps to bring these examples to life for me since I don’t have any experience using Twitter personally or for work. I can understand why it’s so important to make sure not to bombard people with too many posts. I can see how I would easily get overwhelmed if I was being updated about every step that’s being taken by an organization that I’m following. I think that once a week is a great frequency. It creates a bit of a schedule and sets expectations.

  3. Hi Luda, I liked your first-person essay about learning about Twitter secondhand through media and other social media like Facebook. What I think is funny is how things like #hashtags have migrated from Twitter to Facebook. The two platforms are different but taking on best practices between one another. Maybe another post could draw out those overlaps!

  4. Hi Kristina! You are right – it is pretty interesting! What I also find interesting is that some people like to post the same post on multiple social media outlets. For instance, a few of my friends post pictures on Facebook, but also post the same picture on Instagram, Tumblr and etc. I think in addition to writing a post about the overlaps, it would be interesting to see how people’s followers overlap across different platforms, and what are the advantages of posting the same post on multiple sites. Thanks for your comment!

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