Beginning twitter for physicians

During our annual conference of the Dutch Association for Psychiatry we had an interesting discussion about the use of twitter for psychiatrists. Ethical as well as practical aspects of the use of twitter were discussed. The main question from the audience was: Why should we use twitter. We hope we could convince some of them of the advantages of using twitter.

My part of the session was a Twitter for Dummies session. In a short presentation I mentioned the most important rules to obey when starting with twitter as a physician.

In short these rules were:

  • Use a short username with as few characters as possible since that name will be used to communicat with you on twitter in replies (@ messages) and direct messages (DM)
  • When registering your twitter account make sure to provide a link for more information about yourself. I use a twitter landing page on my blog but most physicians as well as psychiatrists have a LinkedIn account. Use the link to your LikedIn account for more information about yourself
  • Use a clear and nice picture of yourself as avatar, spent some money on a professional photographer to make a couple of pictures. They are always useful not only for on the web but also for several different badges and documents. Worth the money
  • Never, ever use twitter anonymously as a physician. Patients rely on doctors for trustworthy information so let them be able to check your credentials
  • Use your own background. They are easy to make or buy from several designers. If you have a website, logo, blog or any other way of publicly expressing yourself make sure the lay out of all these forms are more or less the same. Use at least the same colors, be recognizable on the web.
  • You don’t have to follow those who are following you. In the beginning all the information might be overwhelming so start slow in following your followers
  • Get acquainted with the jargon such as @ messages, DM’s and hashtags
  • Use excellent software on your desktop such as seesmic or tweetdeck. Use a twitter client on your mobile devices
  • Try it for at least three weeks
  • A good to excellent book for twitter beginners is The Twitter Book by Tim O’Reilly and Sarah Milstein. I tried them all, this was simply the best

Do you have other suggestions please let me know in the comments.