Why a Doctor Should Use Twitter: Stacy Loeb MD
Stacy Loeb, MD MSc (@LoebStacy)
Assistant Professor of Urology and Population Health, New York University
Social media (“SoMe”) has taken the world by storm and the field of urology is no exception. Twitter is emerging as one of the most important tools to stay up to date in our field. This article highlights some of the reasons why you should get involved in twitter and the basic steps for how to do it.
Important ways that twitter is used in urology (with examples from my twitter feed):
1. Major news: Twitter is the instantaneous source to hear about new drug/device approvals, recalls, and other important news.
2. Emerging research: There are already numerous sources that provide daily email updates about new research publications (such as AUA Daily News, Urotoday). Twitter provides an alternative way to learn about new studies in a more condensed and efficient fashion. You can quickly scan through the feed to check for interesting new material, and click the link when you want more information.
3. Conferences: Every major urology conference this year had its own twitter feed with thousands of contributions. Although it is not possible to attend every conference or session in person, the twitter feed allows you to follow along remotely. Many tweets will even include images from the poster or video footage.
Some urology meetings such as USANZ have begun to include Social Media sessions with live tweeting.
4. Journal club: There is a monthly urology journal club (#urojc) organized by Dr. Henry Woo (@DrHWoo) to discuss new research articles with urologists from around the world.
5. Advocacy: Twitter provides a platform to advocate for any cause to a larger audience. Instead of writing a letter to your congressman, now you can tweet at them.
It can also be used when new policies are announced (ex: PSA guidelines) to express support or dissent to your colleagues or other stakeholders.
6. Networking and socializing: Discussions about urology provide a great way to interact with colleagues from around the world who share common interests. Twitter is also a great equalizer where medical students and residents can freely participate in formal or informal discussions with senior faculty and key opinion leaders in the field. It is a great way to meet new friends and reconnect with old friends.
Many conferences such as ASCO are now having “tweet-ups” for the twitter participants to meet. At this year’s AUA, the BJUI hosted its first Social Media Awards ceremony to honor the most active participants in urology twitter discussions (http://www.bjuinternational.com/bjui-blog/the-bjui-social-media-awards-2…).
7. Crowd-sourcing: If you have a difficult management question or professional conundrum, twitter allows you to get instant feedback from your colleagues around the world.
8. Advertising: Twitter provides a forum to disseminate information about your research or clinical practice. If you have a new clinical trial that is accruing patients, you are hosting a support group or you will be featured on the news, twitter is a free way to spread the word. It can also be used to tell your colleagues about course offerings, social activities and other events of potential interest.
Basic facts about twitter:
- Tweets are limited to 140 characters so choose wisely!
- Anyone can see what you tweet online, even if they do not have a twitter account
- Unless special restrictions are set, anyone can follow you (this includes your patients, boss, future employers, parents, etc.)
Important twitter terms:
- Writing a posting is called a “tweet.”
- Your twitter name is called your “handle” (ex: @yourname)
- The photo or graphic that accompanies your tweets is called an “avatar”
- Key words/search terms within your tweet are called #hashtags
- Re-distributing someone else’s post to your followers is called “retweeting”
- Letting someone know you like their post is called “favoriting”
How to get involved with twitter:
1. Sign up on twitter.com by choosing your twitter name (“handle”).
The best names are short and easy to remember. It can be part of your name (ex: @LoebStacy), or something related to urology (ex: @uretericbud).
2. Create your profile with a photo and description.
Choose a photo which will accompany and identify all of your tweets (i.e., your “avatar”). Although some people use icons or symbols, my recommendation is to include a headshot so that your new uro-twitter friends can recognize “the face behind the handle” at the next conference. Also include some details about yourself so that others can decide whether to follow you, such as your current position and where you are located (ex: Urology resident at Outside Hospital, Philadelphia, PA).
3. Choose some people or groups to follow.
Many urologists have started to join twitter, so use the search feature on the twitter page to look up some colleagues by their name or twitter handle. All of the major urology organizations and journals are on twitter, so choose the ones that interest you for the latest updates in the field (ex: @urologymatch). Finally, twitter is also a great way to get the latest news on your other interests, such as sports (ex: @syrbasketball), fashion (ex: @gucci), celebrities (ex: @RealHughJackman), or current events (ex: @BloombergNews).
4. Start tweeting!
While it is possible to be a “passive follower” on twitter and simply use it for updates, it is more fun and rewarding to get involved. When you see a new story, research paper, or someone else’s post that interests you, share your opinions with your followers. Remember to use #hashtags for any key words in your tweet to group your post with others on that subject.
What the Twitter app looks like:
For more information:
Prezi by Dr. Marnique Basto (Uro-Oncology Research Fellow at Peter MacCallum Cancer Center in Melbourne, Australia): http://prezi.com/atfclxs3qtuo/uro-somesphere/?auth_key=7ce193a7185240d7395155a822eb0a9a91edb601