Social Media: 10 Steps for Meeting Newbies
Gear up for a more immersive and interactive experience at the ACR 2017 meeting and beyond.
"That Twitter thing seems pretty cool. How can I get started?"
I get that question a lot from physicians who want to participate in social media but don't know how. With the ACR's 2017 meeting quickly approaching, the #ACR2017 hashtag will soon be filled with good content. So now is the perfect time to get connected.
A number of social media platforms offer different use cases for physicians, but Twitter is best for meetings. Since our team's report on its growth at RSNA from 2011 to 2012, Twitter's use at radiology meetings has skyrocketed. Tweets from RSNA still outnumber the rest, but activity at each ACR annual meeting continues to grow.
Twitter is a great way to connect with thought leaders and to learn. You don't need to push out your own content to benefit (although it's highly encouraged, since Twitter works best when everyone shares), but you do have to sign up to get started. As you see others posting content — and watch how easy it is — you'll soon become more comfortable joining in on the fun.
To newbies, Twitter is admittedly a bit daunting. But if you follow these 10 steps, you'll quickly be on your way to being fully engaged by #ACR2017:
1. Sign up. Don't get left at the station after the train pulls away. It only takes a couple minutes — and it's free. Head over to Twitter and sign up.
2. You're more than a number. When you register, you'll be asked to pick a Twitter "handle." I'm @RichDuszak. Use some variation of your name so others will readily know who you are. You may love to grow orchids on weekends, but calling yourself @OrchidFarmer will make it really hard to brand yourself professionally.
3. Identify yourself as doctor. I don't have an MD in my Twitter handle, but my profile clearly identifies me as "Rich Duszak, MD." Others, like @MattHawkinsMD and @DrGMcGinty, put their credentials right in their handles. Either way is fine. What's important, though, for professional engagement is to unambiguously let the world know you're a physician.
4. Don't be an egghead. When you register, Twitter will assign you a generic egg avatar. Unless your goal is to appear completely disengaged, upload a photograph. People are more inclined to connect if they see your face.
5. Introduce yourself. It's great to have a name and face, but if you want to really engage, tell everyone a little bit about yourself. Twitter permits only 160-character profiles, so strive to be pithy and parsimonious. But you do get extra fields to post a link to your webpage and tell everyone where you're from.
6. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Look at the two profile examples below to see what I mean. If you've cut any corners, now is your chance to make a better first impression.
7. Follow others. At meetings, I enter the official hashtag (eg, #ACR2017) in the Twitter app's search bar. It's a great way to track what's going on at the meeting, but if you want to engage with others after the meeting, you'll have to individually follow them. Their tweets will then automatically show up in your Twitter feed (ie, no searching necessary). I'm admittedly biased, but I think all ACR members should follow @RadiologyACR, @JACRJournal, and @NeimanHPI. Search for those handles, and then click the follow button. Next, check out who your favorite radiology thought leaders follow, and select accordingly.
8. Start tweeting. If you've made it this far, it's time to take off your training wheels. You now have a good sense of what you can fit into 140 characters. Go ahead and send out your first tweet! If you tag @RichDuszak and add the hashtag #MyFirstTweet, I'll personally welcome you to Twitter — and so will others.
9. Embrace the learning. If you follow the right people, you'll quickly learn a lot and broaden your horizons. If, like me, you embrace Twitter as a powerful tool for learning and engagement, you'll be fast on your way to getting hooked.
10. Commit to staying engaged. Not everyone will turn into a Twitter-aholic. That's okay. But the people who find the most success are the ones who read and react regularly. Turning on your Twitter account just twice a year (RSNA and ACR) isn't a bad start, but you'll learn a lot more if you use Twitter consistently.
Make #ACR2017 your best meeting yet by leveraging your attendance with Twitter. You won't be disappointed.