7 Ways for Health Organizations to use Twitter

 The sheer number of social media platforms can feel overwhelming. Why would you invest time and effort into an additional platform, and one that seems so limiting? After all, tweets can only be 140 characters long. But there are some upsides to Twitter that you should consider before dismissing its value to your health organization. For one, Twitter is much less about social networking than Facebook (Mansfield, Social Media for Social Good)–instead it is used for up to the minute information sharing. Twitter not only keeps us on point, it allows our followers to access a great range of content with minimal effort and a short amount of time.

Here are 7 ways that you can use Twitter at your health organization:

1.To create or participate in an easily identifiable and searchable hashtag for a cause, person or event:

Stand up to Cancer created the hashtag ‘#NightNationRun’ to report on and allow contributors to tweet about an event supporting their organization. According to Clay Shirkey in ‘Here Comes Everybody,’ “shared awareness” occurs when groups of people are able to understand a situation, as well to understand  that others in the group also understand it–hashtags are an excellent tool for creating this shared awareness.

2. To share relevant human interest stories:

Here the Human Rights Campaign uses Twitter to share a powerful story about someone in the population for whom their organization is working.

3. To retweet posts from other organizations or people: 

Here the Human Rights Campaign retweets a post from a congresswoman who is speaking about a piece of legislation relevant to the organization. Mansfield advises Twitter users to have about 25% of their content consist of retweets.

4. To call on followers to donate or participate in a cause:

 In this tweet, Feeding America encourages followers to call congress to support a cause, proving the contact number as well as a link to background information.

5. To establish a personal voice for your organization

In this post, Planned Parenthood takes a sassy tone toward politicians trying to defund the organization, a tone unlikely to be used in any other social media platform. Mansfield says that it is a good idea to give your twitter page a personality, and make sure all tweets sound like they were written by real people, not bots.

6. To honor a special follower, ally or contributor to the organization:

 Here, Feeding America thanks Ikea USA News for their support in helping to fight hunger. Because of the frequency with which you can post on Twitter, it is an excellent forum for giving thanks and shout outs to supporters.

7. To alert followers to other causes that the organization supports that are not directly related to their mission:

Planned Parenthood, whose mission is surrounding the empowerment of all people to manage their own fertility, here stands in solidarity with those fighting for justice for women of color who have died in police custody.

7 thoughts on “7 Ways for Health Organizations to use Twitter

  1. Great post! I’m not very familiar with the whole Twitter thing… I like how you put these 7 useful ways together, very clear and to the point. Great use of pictures, I’m still learning how to put pictures between my text in my blogs. I’m going to have to try it for this week’s blog. 🙂

    • Thanks! These actually weren’t pictures. With Twitter you can just cut and paste the link to the tweet directly into the body of the post, wherever you want it, and it will automatically recognize it and display it like this 🙂

  2. The other way that health organizations can use twitter is to communicate health information. It’s even more catchy when you can use current pop-culture events to add emphasis to your information. Check out the CDC and Red Cross tweeting about #Sharknado3:

  3. Maia, this is weird. The first few times I came onto your page, the embedded tweets didn’t load. And then finally yesterday they did and I left a comment, and now I don’t see it! I hope this one sticks :]

    Anyway, this is a great post. I think pretty much everything you’ve done is perfect:
    -numbered and bolded points
    -screenshot examples of each
    -short and to the point blog

    I really liked all your examples, too. I’m glad you highlighted the differences between Facebook and Twitter in your introduction.

    If I had to make a suggestion, I would say maybe linking to the organizations you used as examples (i.e. Planned Parenthood, Feeding America etc.) Great job!!

  4. This post was so informative and easy to read and interact with. I love that you embedded the posts and then spoke about them in a sentence or two after. Great introduction and lead into the 7 tips you shared. I like how you diversified the examples from Planned Parenthood to Human Rights and other health related organizations. Excellent tie in with the resources and readings from within the course. Maybe include one conclusion at the end to tie it all together. Thanks for sharing this excellent resource with your cohort and the public health community!

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