twitter-1024x1024Twitter is waaaaay different from what I thought it was!  #hashtag this and #hashtag that is kind of annoying if you don’t know the full story.  I listen to NPR regularly and all the reporters say, “Visit me on Twitter on @someonesnamehere”, and I used to just cringe inside.  Hashtags, at signs, all this trendy stuff seemed like it would be just that – a trend or fad that would go away.  I have been waiting for Twitter to close shop for quite some time . . . but it’s still around.  I joined Twitter in April 2009, to see what it was all about.  Since then, I have posted 7 tweets, have 5 followers and am following 18 others . . . not what you would call an avid user.  I signed up originally thinking it would be something neat to explore but for some reason I very quickly realized it wasn’t for me and I abandoned it.  In re-exploring it now, and in particular looking at the health side of things, I have noticed a waaaay different Twitter than what I had thought it was.  Below is a summary of what I found, the good and the bad.

smiley-face-thumbs-up-Smiley-face-with-thumbs-upPros thumbs-downCons
Lots and lots and LOTS of people posting and contributing Searching for what you need may not be easy
Many well respected orgs on Twitter giving out late breaking news Not many lay people posting on these orgs Twitter feeds, thus the communication is one sided
Access to scientific papers with latest data and research Might be difficult to sift through what’s real science and what’s not
Plenty of support groups for many different diseases and problems (cancer, alcohol dependence, diabetes to name a few) Lose a bit of the human touch in this virtual world, lacking Meetup offline cred
Per Here comes everybody, strong mob-like impact for social and political change Sometimes mob effect doesn’t turn out the way the instigators hoped . . . vis-a-vis Arab Spring
Health information accessible anywhere from mobile devices with constant instant updates Do humans ALWAYS need to be connected to our devices and the internet?? (Is that your phone pinging or mine??)

THUMBS_UP_124Overall it was clear to me … my impression of Twitter was totally wrong. It’s not just a bunch of tweens tweeting about their cats and lunch dates.  There are tons of credible sources pumping out great stuff. I looked at Stanford University Hospital’s Twitter page along with UCSF, MD Anderson, and Cancer Treatment Centers of America along with Alcoholics Anonymous and other support groups. Everything is there. While I see this as a great source of information, I was less impressed with its ability to be a support system. The virtual environment in Twitter on these pages in particular was much less interactive than say Facebook pages and obviously was not as tangible as Meetup. I wished I had seen more patients or lay people posting on these big org Twitter pages to make things more interactive and dialogue based.  I think it goes back to the whole famous discussion from last week.  These large orgs don’t really want people posting on their pages because they won’t be able to reply to each of them anyway.

While I may not become a Twitter user on a regular basis, I definitely see the benefit in organizations having a strong Twitter presence to keep their followers informed about what they are doing.  There is a common saying in medicine which I’m sure is even more important in sales and marketing which really comes into play here . . . one has to remain visible so that others will remember them and refer to them.  As a physician, it’s important that I don’t just cloister myself in my clinic but that I be seen in the hospitals and various events so people remember me.  When they come across a head and neck cancer patient in the future, they are more likely to remember my name and refer the patient to me.  Twitter feels the same way.  If you are an avid Twitter user and a new post from some org comes into my stream every day rather than once a month, I am more likely to think that org is active and I’m more likely to support that org.  Visibility is so key here in the mob-tastic Twitter zone.



4 thoughts on “Mob-tastic!

  1. Chafeek,
    I loved your post! I am in your situation (although I am following more users than you due to my celebrity gossip guilty pleasure). I felt the same way about using Twitter and hearing people talk about following them (I am now seeing people put their instagram/twitter names on their car written in dust and saying “follow me”). Your post is set up extremely well and I like the the visual pro/con sections. You could maybe link your post to the “Social Media Update” that social media platforms other than Facebook are increasing rapidly- and this is easily seen and reflected in your post!

    Great job!

  2. Your blog has a great layout. I particularly like the twitter bird on the right side and the “pros” and “cons” columns. Social Media for Social Good would be proud of you. If you have 5 followers, they would recommend a 1:1 ratio of you following 5 others. But 18:5, now that is a good ratio. If you wanted to use Twitter for public health, you have already begun to establish yourself as someone who reads/shares other people’s blogs, which is a great start. I also appreciate you assessing the mob-like impact of Twitter as both a positive and a potential negative. When reading Hear comes everybody, I had similar feelings and was unsure how I felt about the mob-like impact of micro blogs. Good comparison of the importance of having a presence on Twitter to practicing medicine. Even if you don’t incorporate Twitter into your everyday life, you make it clear to your readers the benefit of its use. Great post. I give it a “thumbs up.”

  3. Great post Chafeek. I thought your use of the personal experience really worked well with the content and your ‘voyage of discovery’ in the Twitterverse. I agree, Twitter does feel more of a broadcast medium rather than two way conversation sometimes. But, as you pointed out, this does seemed linked to the ‘Fame’ factor. As Shirky put it, even if a medium has “perfect interactivity for all participants, limits of human cognition will mean that scale alone will kill conversation.”
    I also liked the Pros and Cons list and the images balanced out the text well. One suggestion would be to bold some of the main points in your last paragraph to aid the reader (with shorter attention spans.)
    As always, your own voice comes through your posts making it authentic and readable.

  4. This is so great Chafeek!
    I thought I was the only one who was way behind the 8 ball with twitter and my one lowly post back in 2013… Nice to know it’s not just me! I also love Melissa’s guilty admission of celebrity gossip love 😉
    This was excellent – fantastic layout with text and pictures dispersed around the page. I loved your use of pro’s and cons – very understandable, great emojis (do these count as emojis?? you love a good emoji!!)
    and really nice language. Very relate-able and relaxed, however with a sense of authority and credibility. Hah funny I would have put excessive lay person input on health feeds as a negative! I swear if I see another homeopathic cure to some terminal cancer I might scream! Just kidding, I can probably control myself 🙂
    Anyway, as I often do, I digress – great post. I honestly can’t think of ways (formatting, language, text) that might be improved. Perhaps inserting a hyperlink in there somewhere – not that it needs one necessarily, but that is all I can think of that’s not on there! Looks great!

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