Five Twitter myths decoded

By Chowning Johnson on August 18th, 2009

Twitter has been all the buzz for the past few months, but many people still have misconceptions about this social media tool from who is using it to how it can be used. Following, we’ve decoded some of the most prevalent Twitter myths in the healthcare industry.

  1. Nobody in healthcare uses it. To the contrary. I think everyone has seen the story of how hospitals are utilizing Twitter during surgery to connect with potential patients, share information with other practitioners and improve the educational value to residents. This other article discusses how physicians and hospitals are using the social media tool in public health emergencies, like swine flu, to disseminate information to various audiences.
  2. Twitter is just for celebrities who want more media attention and people who feel the need for their friends to follow their day-to-day activities, from what they ate to the most recent gym workout. Not quite. Although Twitter does hold value for these audiences, it also is a good tool for healthcare companies to connect with their customer base, listen to what’s going on in the HIT industry, keep track of competitors and improve search engine visibility, etc. This article provides some insight into the importance of using Twitter as a business and the value it can bring to your company.
     
  3. You have to be a major corporation to be on Twitter and gain followers. Nope. Associations like HIMSS with 2,885 followers and MGMA with 673 followers use Twitter as do other small and large HIT companies, such as NextGen. In other industries, mom-and-pop companies have revolutionized their businesses through Twitter as shown in this New York Times article.
     
  4. Tweeting is just a black hole for companies to waste time doing unproductive stuff. In fact, many companies are creating a two-way dialog with target audiences, others are strengthening company loyalty and some are just listening and learning by following competitors, editors and associations. And Gartner released a report earlier in the year further highlighting a few of the different ways companies are using Twitter.
     
  5. Healthcare editors and trades don’t cover Twitter or even use it. Definitively false. In June, American Medical News published an article on Twitter and whether or not physicians should be using it. Editors from numerous HIT trades use Twitter to highlight what they’re currently writing about, seek potential sources, post blogs they’ve written and promote their interests. It’s a great way to connect with editors and find out more about what types of stories they’re looking for to ensure you’re targeting the right person with story pitches. By posting thought leader commentary and links on your Twitter page as well as providing editors with the information they need, you may gain a few editors as followers and become a go-to source for information on particular topics.

Now that the myths are decoded, perhaps you’re wondering how to get started. This 101 guide will walk you through the process and you’ll be tweeting or just listening in no time.