So it’s time to take the Twitter chat plunge and stop lurking in the shadows? You’ve decided to take your medical expertise to the next social level and drop some knowledge on all those Twitter folks. Yet which Twitter chat session should you join? Are you looking to join a very focused chat session or chime in on a broad healthcare topic? With so many choices where does one start? Well, healthcare community you’re in luck. Here is a wonderful guide to the world of Twitter chats and how you can contribute to the community you are a part of.
What is a Twitter hashtag chat?
- Do you remember the ancient days of the internet when people were paying for AOL (some still are), and Ask.com was called Ask Jeeves? Well during those prehistoric days there were chat rooms where people would log into and discuss life and other important worldly topics. While these chat rooms still exist, Twitter hashtag chats are chat sessions that use the social media platform Twitter. By following along with a specific Twitter hashtag, users can set aside a specific period of time to gather and chat about a given topic. In the healthcare community, some of the popular Twitter chat sessions are the Healthcare Social Media (#HCSM) session and Doctor of Medicine Chat (#MDChat). If you’re interested in some of the other healthcare hashtags, Symplur has a wonderful hashtag archiving project going on called The Healthcare Hashtag Project.
What Twitter client should I use to participate in a Twitter chat?
- Any of the popular Twitter clients will work. You can use a browser client or standalone desktop client. As long as your Twitter client has search capabilities you are good to go. If you are using a Twitter client that has the abilities to set up columns, the columns are useful for visually displaying what’s going on during the chat session and organizing your Twitter feed.
Following along to my favorite Twitter chat in my favorite Twitter client makes my brain hurt. Is there another way to does this?
- There is and it’s a life/sanity saver! The browser based application is called TweetChat. TweetChat is extremely easy to use and helps to filter out the noise so you can focus on your Twitter chat. TweetChat is free to use and works in conjunction with your normal Twitter account.
- The first thing you will want to do is click the sign in link at step number one. Enter in your Twitter credentials and authorize the TweetChat application. After authorization is complete, you will be returned to the TweetChat homepage.
- Next, you’ll need to decide what Twitter chat session you would like to join and then enter the hashtag at the top of the screen. After you give TweetChat the info hit the big GO button.
- Once you’re logged in, TweetChat will begin following the hashtag you entered. At this page you are able to follow along with the scheduled Twitter chat session. Tweets will populate the screen according to the TweetChat default settings. You can customize the feed according to font size, refresh speed, and a few other useful settings.
- As a new tweet is sent with the specified hashtag the chat session screen will scroll. You can interact with individual tweets just as you would via Twitter (RT, Reply, and Favorite). A really nice feature in TweetChat is the smart pause. If you begin to scroll through the chat session log, TweetChat will pause all incoming tweets until you scroll back to the top of the session.
- When you want to contribute to the chat session, just enter your comment into the chat box just like you would via Twitter and then hit the update button. One thing to note is you don’t need to add the hashtag you are following because TweetChat will do that for you.
Hashtag chat sessions usually run for around one hour and are scheduled weekly at a regular date and time. Chat sessions occur in just about every work sector not just healthcare. If you are interested in a specific topic, do a quick Google search for that subject followed by Twitter chat, and you should find some great results.
Jumping into a healthcare Twitter chat can feel like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Becoming regularly involved in hashtag chat sessions will help you establish yourself in the Web 2.0 world and help establish yourself as an authority in the community. Using a platform like TweetChat makes it that much easier to get involved.