Thursday, October 28, 2010

HPM Tweetchat party, anyone?

Ok, all you twitterphobes!  Find a person, possibly your local teen or tween to teach you how to use it and join in the fun on November 17th 6 pm PST/8 pm CST.  (We do these weekly, but I'm encouraging hesitant newbies to come to the party together to avoid any sensation of social awkwardness.)


No RSVP necessary, you can watch from outside the party (aka lurking), but if you want to join in the lovely conversations you need to use Twitter.

Cue typical protest: "I'm too busy!"

I agree, you are busy!  I know it deep in my core that all you hospice and palliative medicine (#hpm) folks are busy doing good work, caring, listening, relieving suffering, teaching, researching, promoting the field, and having a life yourselves.  I am too.  But, let me tell you why I bother with twittering about hospice and palliative medicine.  (By the way, translations are at the end.)

1)  Christian Sinclair does it. (@ctsinclair)


Image from www.pdphoto.org
2)  Diane Meier does it. (@DianeEMeier)

I can hear my parents now... "If Christian jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?" Me with downcast eyes, toe digging the dirt, in a weenie voice, "No... I guess not." So, if  you are having your own childhood flashback, and you learned through some incident that involved your parents using your middle name that using other people's actions as your justification doesn't fly, here's a few more reasons.

3)  I can get all the day's news about hospice and palliative medicine from all the major news sources by "following" a few hip people who find it first.  I simply look at my Twitter home timeline and click on the links for instant connection to the online articles.  I would NEVER look at Wall Street Journal, New York Times, LA Times, etc., plus medical journals on my own every day.  No way!  I'm busy, remember.  But, with a couple swipes of my fingers across my fabulous smartphone I can read an article while waiting in line for the elevator.  Two, if I'm in line for coffee. Why do I care?  Because I know with lightening quick speed what the general public and the rest of the medical world is seeing about our field every day,  which then helps me learn, allows me to advocate, and helps me to respond to inaccuracies.

4)  It allows a small voice to be amplified.  I can get the message out, whether it is my own tweet about some wonderful thing happening in HPM or an article I found that others may find useful, or a retweet of someone else's valuable information.  If I tweet it, then one of my currently 180 followers may think it is helpful.  If one of them retweets it, then all their followers see it.  Presumably, we mingle with different folks, so people who don't know me now see what I wrote.  If we all have a small number of followers, that is okay.  I send it to my 180 and another person sends it to their 87 so 267 people could see it.  BUT, if someone else finds it interesting, maybe one of the 87 people, and retweets it to their 1000 followers, or their 10,000 followers.  Now we are talking impact!  Remember when the FDA was going to pull concentrated morphine? Social media was part of the solution. See Christian's post here.

This leads me to two tips:  One, saying something inflammatory, embarrassing, or downright not nice can spread faster than pregnancy news in a small town.  Don't say anything you wouldn't want repeated endlessly.  Two, don't annoy people by only tweeting about your most recent meal.  If you had a great steak, people may want to know where you got it, but they probably don't care so much that you ate oatmeal with brown sugar and raisins for breakfast.

5)  It creates a community.  It sounds strange to a group of people that cherishes exploring meaning and deep conversations, but I can attest to the fact that there is a sense of community among people who communicate in 140 characters or less.  It is a diverse community that participates in the #hpm tweetchats, some are in the HPM field, others in healthcare communications and social media (#hcsm), as well as some folks who are just checking out what we are doing, sometimes from other disciplines and organizations. It spans the globe too.  We regularly have participants from other countries on the #hpm tweetchats.

6)  I can learn some things from conferences I don't even attend!  For a great example, see Christian's blog post on the Center to Advance Palliative Care (@CAPCpalliative) conference last week.  Also, the 2010 AAHPM (@AAHPM) Annual Assembly.

7)  I can participate in #hpm tweetchats.  Tweetchats allow me to have a conversation around topics of interest to HPM with lots of people.  It gets our collective message out, creates community, allows us to brainstorm and share ideas, and is fast (1hour for busy people).  Which brings me back to the party thing...
Image from www.pdphoto.org

Join us for the party, Nov. 17th at 6 pm PST, 8 pm CST!  I'm going get a group of folks from work together for dinner and a Twitter tutorial the hour before, and then practice during the tweetchat.

If you already tweet and tweetchat, join in sooner.  We do it every Wednesday.  Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to mentor some people in your community in Twitter and join us together for the tweetchat on the 17th.  See one, do one, teach one.

If you twitter, but don't tweetchat yet, check it out at www.tweetchat.com and follow the hashtag #hpm.  Don't just lurk, tweet.  We'd love to hear from you.  Here's instructions via @ctsinclair, How and Why to Tweetchat.

If you don't do either, try it out using Christian's instructions below, or find a tutor/mentor.  If teenagers can do it, so can you.  They just think they're cooler.

Here's Christian's post about Twitter for Medical Professionals: 11 Uses in 9 Steps.  It has some great advice on how to get started.  Also, Why Palliative Care Needs Social Media which has links to lots of other fabulous Pallimed posts on social media.

Let me respond using Christian's calming reassurance to those who have a corollary concern to "I'm too busy!", which is "I can't even respond to my emails, how could I possibly keep up with Twitter?" or "If I get one more thing "to do" I'll go stark, raving mad."  Twitter is like a ticker.  If you are watching sports with the news ticker running at the bottom of the screen, and you get up to go to the bathroom, you don't get upset that you missed whatever when by on the ticker while you were in the loo.  Same idea, don't sweat what you missed.

Finally, as promised translations by @hollyby to get you through this blog post and a little bit more (I'm sure others have better more accurate translations, but this is my take in layman's terms)

# = hashtag.  A way of marking a word or abbreviation so that it is more easily searchable or followable.  It can also be used to follow a particular conversation or tweetchat.

#hpm = hashtag for hospice and palliative medicine

#hcsm = hashtag for healthcare communications and social media

@ =  It's the at sign, silly!  Seriously, though, it is used in front of someone's Twitter username, and anything you send with it in the tweet will show up in a different place on that person's screen so they know someone else mentioned them.  If it is the very first thing in a tweet, that means the tweet was addressed to that person.  To send something to me in the public Twitter timeline simply put @hollyby at the very beginning. (Example: @hollyby I'm using Twitter!)

follower = someone who follows what you tweet.  Kinda like a Facebook friend but with less commitment.

follow = to see someone's tweets in your tweetstream

Twitter home timeline = All the tweets you see when you log in

tweetchat = A twitter conversation of many people around a common hashtag.

lurking = Watching the twitter stream, but not commenting (so no one knows you are there)

retweet = To resend a tweet, with or without your own comment. It is similar to a "like" in Facebook. When you retweet something, everyone following you will be able to see it.  Otherwise, they would only see if it they followed the original author of the tweet.

DM = Direct message.  A private message to you from someone else, like an email.  These do not show up in the tweetstream.

Good luck! Send me a message if you try it out, @hollyby.

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