How to start a Twitter account for health care professionals

I think that Twitter is easier to manage on the phone than one the computer, and certainly easier to set up. Here’s what to do to set up an account. First, download the app by going to the app store and typing in Twitter. Download Twitter, the little blue bird icon. Next, open it up and enter your name and credentials. Keep it professional, as this is easier for people to find you.

Next you will go through a few questions verifying your phone number and email. And then choose a handle, meaning your username on Twitter and how people will link to your account in their tweets aka tagging. Just as with your name, go with something simple, consistent, and professional. A simple formula for this would be FirstnameLastnameMD (or whatever your credentials are). Skip the middle name or initial unless you have a more common name.

Then upload a brief bio. This is limited to 160 characters, so stay concise. Start with who you are, what hospital or company you work for, what your focus is at work, and what your hobbies are. An example would be: Anesthesiologist at General Hospital, specializing in pain management and resident education. Medical mission trips and international travel.

Almost there! Now, upload two photos, one of yourself (just take a selfie or ask someone to take your photo on your phone for you), and one of something pretty or objects that represent you to replace the top banner (the sky, a sign, flowers, food, trees, your desk, medical books, stethoscopes).

Finally, connect! Tweet out something about you day or something you learned from grand rounds or up to date. Click on the feather pen and plus sign button to write a tweet. Search for people in your field to follow. Search under the #medtwitter hashtag to see who else is in the medical community. And connect with others. As you can see from the image below, there are three ways to respond to a tweet. You can reply to someone else’s tweet by clicking the speech bubble. You can retweet by clicking on the two arrows – this makes the tweet show up on your timeline along with your own tweets. And you can like by clicking on the heart button.

Keep your engagement consistent and keep your boundaries. When you first start, make schedule for when you check Twitter and engage, so you don’t feel so overwhelmed by all the information and spend too much time trying to figure it out. Maybe just 10 minutes every other day. Building up a following and finding your community or tribe on Twitter takes time like any relationship. But it has to start somewhere, so start today!