Are you part of the pharmaceutical industry and would like to use Twitter socially as well as to engage with HCPs online? One of the reasons Twitter is so popular is that it really is very simple. If you’re an absolute beginner here’s a quick guide to get you started.
People use Twitter for all sorts of reasons; privately, commercially, to serve others, to learn, to meet new people or communicate with people they already know. If you’re already on Twitter, this guide is not for you – but you might want to read one of our other articles about how you can learn from the conversations of eHCPs, (online healthcare professionals) on Twitter strategies. This is a guide for those who are brand new to the platform – here are five steps to get you started.
Five steps for pharma professionals to get started on Twitter
1. Start at twitter.com
Why not start by seeing what’s being said about something you’re interested in. Go to https://twitter.com, type a word or phrase in the white search box and click ‘Search’. Whatever you enter, there are bound to be people talking about it right now, somewhere.
Now, to set up your own Twitter account. It’s free and it’s easy. Enter your name, email address and choose a password and username which will also form a web address for your profile.
Type the words that are displayed in the graphic box (to prove you’re a real human, not a machine).
Read the Terms of Service before clicking the checkbox in order to get some helpful insight into using Twitter. You’ll receive a welcome email from Twitter, with a link to your profile and information about how to set up Twitter for your mobile phone.
2. Set up your profile
Before you connect with friends, or say something on Twitter, you might want to decide how your profile appears to others on Twitter. Click on the ‘Settings’ link at the top of the screen at twitter.com (assuming you are still logged in), and you will be able to set a few options.
Here are three quick and easy things to do with your profile:
- Let people know something about you. Select your time zone, say something brief about yourself in the ‘one line bio’ box, enter your location, and if you have a website you would like to share, enter this in the ‘More info URL’ box. Then click ‘Save’ to save these details.
- Upload a profile photo or image, to give your profile some personality. You can do this on the ‘Picture’ tab.
- Choose your profile design by selecting a design or uploading an image on the ‘Design’ tab.
3. Connect with friends
There are many ways of finding and connecting with people on Twitter, but here’s the simplest:
You can type the name of the person you want to find in the search bar at the top, click enter and then select any of the results that come back (to check they really are who you think they are). Found a friend? Just click the ‘Follow’ button.
Of course you can make new ‘friends’ on Twitter too! Try following people who tweet about things you are interested in. For example, if you’re interested in digital strategies in healthcare and government, you could try following @CREATION as those are the pieces of information we focus on.
4. Say something (or ‘Tweet’)
Now, Twitter’s homepage asks ‘What’s happening?’. Answer that, click update, and hey presto! your first tweet.
5. Learn, contribute and enjoy online communities!
Enjoy being part of the Twitter community! Now you can explore the possibilities of Twitter and the more you use it, the more ideas you will have about how to use it.
Here are a few tips for engaging with other Twitter users, especially those within the healthcare industry:
- To mention, or send a public message to a Twitter user, use ‘@’ followed by their name in your tweet.
- Gain a broader idea of those talking about a specific topic by exploring terms that are associated with them in the form of hashtags eg: for those in the healthcare industry a good hashtag to look at is #medTwitter
- If you see a comment or link you like, ‘retweet’ it. Use ‘RT’ followed by the Twitter user’s @name, and their tweet or click on the retweet icon.
- You can also engage with people by liking their post (the icon in the shape of a heart) or commenting on their posts with your queries or respectful opinions.
Twitter tools for beginners
There are many tools that help you use Twitter efficiently, but you don’t have to use any of them at all to enjoy Twitter. I recently asked friends on Twitter what tools they would recommend to new users, and these are the top three recommended tools:
TweetDeck lets you organise all the tweets and Twitter friends you’re following.
Twellow is one of several helpful Twitter directories. Use it to find people with a common interest who you might want to follow.
Bit.ly is not just a tool for Twitter but it lets you shorten a web address to something that will fit in a tweet. You can also use it to track how many people click the link.
Hashtags are an essential part of Twitter as they help to link the topic phrased as part of the hashtag to numerous people sharing tweets related to it.
How to use hashtags?
- Enter in the search bar a word or phrase that is associated with the topic of discussion you would like to explore eg: #medTwitter
- Remember to use a # before the word
- From the numerous number of tweets you will find that show up you can either click on other hashtags that people have used eg: #medEd, #scienceTwitter or even use them within your own tweets to connect yourself to the discussion
- There are millions of hashtags that are there for you to explore or even create so feel free to experiment with it
Here are some common Hashtags you may see in health related conversations:
Finally, of course there’s so much more! This guide is very short and focused because with so much written about Twitter, it would be easy to be overwhelmed. But it really is simple to get started.
Once you’re up an running, you might want to explore some of our articles about digital engagement in healthcare and government to learn about how others are using Twitter in your industry, You can also register to receive a copy of Engagement Strategy, our free EJournal for communicators and leaders in healthcare and you’ll be kept up to date on digital engagement in healthcare.