Microblogging could be considered a ‘Tequila shot’ technique of communication – it requires the ability to broadcast messages in short bursts of information. In the book “Social Media for Good“, Heather Mansfield describes how the successful use of this medium may require a certain degree of ‘unlearning old writing formats.’
Where do I microblog?
The dominant players in the microblogging space are currently Twitter and Tumblr though there are many others appearing. Twitter has become synonymous with microblogging and within its famous 140 character limit, allows the posting of text, pictures and videos. A common method is to tweet links to original content or that generated by others in longer blog posts or articles elsewhere on the internet. Twitter will automatically reduce the number of characters in a long URL. This and other very useful tips about how to use Twitter can be found in this comprehensive tutorial on Lynda.com
How will I know this is working?
As with all social media, take the time to determine what your organization’s aims are for your microblogging efforts. Anita Jackson Director of Social Media for MomsRising.org suggests that you identify the main issues you organization cares about and create conversations around them. Microblogging is best used “correctly and with intention” (Heather Mansfield in Social Media for Good) and using metrics to obtain feedback on how your microblogging is being received will be an essential part of this process. Third party apps, such as Bit.ly and Ow.ly, have been developed to enable you to reduce and personalize the characters in your hyperlinks while also tracking the number of clicks on that link. Use analytical tools to measure the impact of your Tweets and be prepared for it to take some experimentation to find the right tone and patterns of communication for your organization’s ‘Twitter voice.’
Be selective and creative.
The deluge of information on a Twitter feed can feel overwhelming very quickly, depending on the number of people you choose to follow. Although many people follow thousands of Twitterers, it is wise to be more strategic about who you follow. A rule of thumb is to follow the 1:1 ratio described by Heather Mansfield. If you have 500 followers, you should aim to follow 500 other Twitter accounts in return. You can begin to create your twitter community by reaching out to your real life social networks. Engage with the tweets from your real life affiliates and partners who have a shared or compatible mission or interest by retweeting, replying and using favorites for their tweets.
Tweeting for health.
Here are some Twitter profiles that I follow which cover different but important issues in the field of Health.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation uses their twitter account as a resource of information from many sources around their campaign #Cultureofhealth. These include links to reports, activities and updates from partner organizations, grantees and the foundation itself. The first tweet on their feed below links to an interesting report on social emotional learning in early childhood.
In a slightly different format, tweeting can be used as a call to action. After diagnosis with terminal cancer, Dr. Kate Granger was disturbed by how few clinicians treating her introduced themselves. She responded by launching the #hellomynameis Twitter campaign as an appeal to remind those in clinical care to go back to the basics and “make the human connection beginning a therapeutic relationship and building trust.” The campaign has been embraced by 90 healthcare organizations and appeared in a British government report. This is a good example of a campaign to broadcast to many, invite participation through the website and twitter to amplify a call to engage in an action.
Finally, Casel.org is an organization that promotes the development of evidence based social emotional learning (SEL) programs in schools. Their twitter feed is aa great repository of breaking news in the field of SEL and publications and experiences other organizations.
Again, as with all diverse tools emerging in the era of Social Media, microblogging requires you to get your hands dirty. Experiment with techniques, voices and varying content and don’t give up too early, positive results may take some time. While you explore, assimilate the microblogging culture with its etiquette of generosity and reciprocity.
Although micro by name, these tools can be implemented to have a big impact on the field of public health.