Voices: Tweeting at the Meeting

Tweeting at the Meeting | B.J. Rimel, MD

Twitter is an online news and social media feed that uses brief posts (140 characters) to communicate and connect people with information. That little blue bird icon on the side of the news story you are reading or next to the online menu that you just looked up is your direct link to Twitter. The journalist who wrote the story and the chef who made the menu want you to share your thoughts about their content. So does the SGO!
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The ability to instantly comment, connect and respond to data is an integral part of communications in 2014. That being said, there are some ground rules about Twitter that everyone should know. On the off chance you were busy answering your numeric pager while some insightful teenager was trying to talk to you about why social media is more important than Algebra, here are the important points:

  1. Twitter is designed to be short comment, response or contribution (by providing a link or picture) to a discussion. Discussions are cataloged with hashtags. Meaning that #SGO2014 added to a comment will add that comment to the ENTIRE discussion for #SGO2014. So, if you want to make your comment more specific or reach a broader audience you can add hashtags. For example, #cancer is a HUGE discussion and LOTS of people follow that hashtag, so lots of people will see it. #bjrimelwearsthebesteyeglasses is fairly specific and very few people will see it. (except me…)
  2. When setting up your Twitter account, there are opportunities for personalization. USE THEM. Put a picture in the profile space. If this is your professional account, put a professional picture. Preferably one of your face. At meetings, others may want to meet up with you to discuss a future project or an idea for an abstract for the next SGO meeting and the best way to help them out is to include an accurate picture of yourself.
  3.  Under the profile picture there is a short sentence that you personalize to describe who you are. Write something accurate and be sure to include that your Twitter profile reflects YOUR OPINIONS, not those of your institution. Unless you are authorized to use your hospital or company logo, I wouldn’t include that either. It’s important to tell others where you are practicing but you don’t want to inadvertently be responsible for content attributed to your institution. Which brings me to my next point…
  4. Don’t tweet emotionally. This is a paraphrase from Dr. Kenny Kim of UNC. It should be taken as the gospel truth, like GOG 33. If you are angry or sad or feeling snarky, keep that to yourself. Everything you tweet is “out there” for eternity. Do tweet ideas, concepts, critiques, shout outs, congratulations, comments, and where to meet for drinks.

OK, the rules are there.

But how do I start, you ask? Here is a brief and excellent Twitter tutorial by Twitter itself. https://discover.twitter.com/learn-more?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_content=basics&utm_campaign=sem&gclid=CMb9l8GRk70CFclDMgodiEEAkg

Now, for those of you who have just created Twitter accounts or who have them but don’t use them, try this exercise. Tweet @bjrimelmd #SGO2014 and I will follow you. You will then see a little icon that looks like a person with a plus sign. Click on that icon to follow me back. Following and being followed gets your message around. The more people you follow, then more people who will follow you. The more people we have who interact with each other about gynecologic cancers for prevention, control, treatment or survivorship, the more likely we as the Society of Gynecologic Oncology will be able to end cancer as a threat to women.

Have fun and happy tweeting (meeting).