Today’s message for physicians was actually derived from Kevin O’Keefe…an expert in attorney marketing and owner of Lex blog. While I have built this post on tips from Kevin, I will disagree with Kevin on this point: I am not prepared to predict what role Twitter may or may not have in the long run. I don’t think its future relevance is obvious.
Twitter traffic has been trailing off significantly in the US (with a few demographic exceptions) and the usage among the under 25 crowds is almost non-existent….two trends that may point to a precarious future for the system.
However, if you are inclined to try new things and want to dive in, you should follow some best practices.
- Transparency is key to building and maintaining a strong reputation. You need to be yourself whether you’re behind your computer screen, tweeting from your phone or networking and meeting people face to face. If your personality isn’t parallel to what you project online, you’re going to run into trouble. Being open and transparent helps people to relate to you. Screen names and pseudo-names of old are passed in social media.
- Posting great content. What you share should be interesting and engaging for others to read. This does not mean that all of the content needs to be your content nor does it mean you have to share news or facts all the time. Coming off as personable and easy to talk to is just as important, so it’s ok to share personal interests whether that be as a mom or a football fan. Finding a balance between sharing things you enjoy, conversing with others, re-tweeting your favourite personality and posting interesting information is all part of building your presence online. Quality content, remember that. Here is another filter “Would this message be appropriate if it was an email and I “Replied To All?”
- Choose a focus and become an authority. Share news and information relevant to your niche area of the medicine. You will gain the trust of others who will follow you to stay abreast of relevant information on your niche. As you focus on your niche and build trust, people will re-tweet your content, share your blog posts, and begin to come to you for advice. This also has a strong influence over time-related to search engine traffic related to your name.
- Humility and kindness. This may seem self-explanatory, but make sure that you are a gracious and kind person online – and in-person — is what will gain you the trust and respect of others. Some professionals thank people for visiting their blog or for re-tweeting what they tweeted. Check out the bios on LinkedIn of people who follow you on Twitter and try remembering special details about them, because you never know when you’ll cross pass paths online or meet in person. People appreciate being remembered.
- Write a catchy bio. You have exactly 140 characters to tell the world who you are, so make it catchy and interesting. You can describe your interests, your job or maybe a quirky quote that describes you. Include your location and some kind of link where people can find out more information about you. Your link as a professional can be to your blog, website bio, or LinkedIn bio. If you want to be taken seriously online, including a link is encouraged. Be social and go out. The reality is that physicians are the busiest professionals on the planet. Social gatherings are tough to fit in and even harder to justify at times. That said, making a point to interact on occasion with doctors who may be referral sources or who can provide occasional expertise will differentiate you from the physician who opted to skip the cocktail hour function.
As Kevin O” Keefe says “Twitter is not the easiest thing in the world to grasp.” Most physicians are still either ignorant or agnostic about the tool. While there certainly are some active physicians on the platform, the statistical reality is the numbers of registered users are very low and active users far lower. So, while I won’t make a strong push for using Twitter one way or another, if you are going to jump in, it does make sense to participate with quality.