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EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT TWITTER, BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK

If you don’t use Twitter, CPA’s Senior Practice Manager Chantal Lauzon empathizes with you. She had “no interest” in being a part of a social media platform where celebrity updates and a seemingly infinite stream of information is the norm.

But in early February, she changed her mind. I sat down with Chantal (@1995cjl) to learn why she decided to join and how she now uses Twitter to further her physiotherapy practice.

First off: why weren’t you on Twitter?
My misconception about Twitter was that it was “on” all of the time. I worried that the newsfeed just kept coming and coming and would interrupt my day –I had no interest in being a part of that. I didn’t even look into creating an account.

What changed?

Last spring, Janet Holly (@innerchildca), Clinical Specialist in Pain Science gave a talk on prevention of long term pain. In her resources, she shared a list of Twitter handles that she follows; we all kind of groaned (laughs). She later told me afterwards that she ‘follows leaders/experts in her field’ to keep up-to-date with the new evidence.

Sounds like a good reason. Did you sign up?

No. But I started to think about it. I still wasn’t convinced; I’m not a clinician and I don’t have a specific area of practice that I want to stay on the cutting edge of. At that time, I still didn’t understand the full benefits of being on Twitter –or what Twitter was, for that matter.

If you use a period in front of the account, like (.@Physiocan), your message will appear on the @physiocan message feed for all of the account’s 6,000+ followers to view.

What convinced you that Twitter has value?

The reason I created an account was actually because of construction. There were serious delays in getting to and from work, so The Ottawa Hospital sent out Twitter resources to help us find ways to bypass construction. I set up an account and by using the updates; I found it easier to get to work!

The second account I followed was CPA (@physiocan), because I liked what I saw on the CPA Facebook page. I was interested to see what Twitter could offer me in terms of physiotherapy updates.

Twitter started emailing me with suggestions of accounts to follow. I started building my network from there, and to my great surprise, some even followed me back.

How did you use Twitter?

My first tweet was too intimidating, so I simply followed people for a while.

When did you move from “follower” to “tweeter”?

It was after beginning work at CPA and during a Congress planning meeting. I learned about how the #PhysioCongress hashtag was being promoted as a strategy to track communication during the conference. I was intrigued and realized that I needed to learn more about Twitter.  So I asked for help.

Around the same time, I started following Trisha Parsons (@TLParsons_). She attended a nephrology conference and by reading her tweets, I truly felt that I was at the conference with her. That experience really demonstrated Twitter’s value to me.

So Twitter helped your Congress experience?

Sure it did. There were often three sessions running concurrently that I was interested in; I’d have to pick and choose at the last minute. I decided to follow the tweets within the Congress guidebook app to see what was going on elsewhere. I was in the middle of a session and I saw several tweets from another session and realized that I needed to go –the other session was more important to me than the one I was currently in.

Even though I read other tweets, I wasn’t that confident. I dabbled at tweeting, but I more so quoted from the sessions I was in. President of World Confederation for Physical Therapy Emma Stokes (@ekstokes) was amazing at updating. With very few characters, she was able to share the messages being heard, with her own spin on it. I noticed that she also tweeted at @PhysioCan, and I wasn’t sure why.

Yeah, when you tweet at @Physiocan, I’ll get a message (I manage @Physiocan) that you’re saying something to CPA.

–>Twitter tip: If you use a period in front of the account (.@Physiocan), your message will appear on the @physiocan message feed for all of the account’s 6,000+ followers to view. You’ll get a bigger audience that way, even if you’ve only got a few followers on your own.

Do you think you’ll ever Tweet?

I need to figure out what I want to say first, but if I find something worth saying, sure, I’ll Tweet.

So to sum it up, why do you like using Twitter now?

I like it so much that I’ve embedded Twitter into my morning and evening routine of checking emails and social media. My top three reasons are:

  1. Quick and easy access to the most recent developments in physiotherapy and health care.
  2. Networking! Engage in healthy competition with fellow users!
  3. I choose who I want to follow. I like that I can quickly scroll through everything new that’s on my feed. I open the links that are of interest to me and skip the things that aren’t. I also really like that it doesn’t clutter my inbox.

What advice would you give to physiotherapists considering joining Twitter?

It’s easy to be an observer on Twitter. You don’t have to participate right away; you can simply follow along and learn. It’s pretty user-friendly, so I didn’t use a tutorial. There’s a useful one here, though. It’s so simple that I got my former colleague Shelly (@ShellyBercov) to set hers up during the opening ceremonies at Congress.

–>Twitter tip: If you engage with other people and share physiotherapy-related tips, you can grow your practice.

WHAT WOULD YOU STILL LIKE TO LEARN ABOUT TWITTER?

Here’s a quick Q&A that will get you up to speed, Twitter-wise:

Q: When do I tweet?
A: The most popular time to tweet is between noon and 1:00pm – your local time. Keep in mind that that time will vary if you’re trying to reach a national fan base. If you’re looking for engagement, evenings and late at night are when tweets receive the most favourites and retweets.  

Q: How do I reach physiotherapists?
A: There are a few ways:

  1. Follow people in your field: To find leaders, browse hashtags like #Physiotherapy #physiocanhelp, #WCPTleaders #whatleadershiplookslike.
  2. Engage with them: Retweet people, comment on their posts, and post questions to your followers.
  3. Jump on the hashtag bandwagon: It’ll help people find you. When someone searches #PhysioCongress, your message (that includes the hashtag #PhysioCongress in your message) will appear in the list.
  4. Post good content: The more regularly you post helpful, informative content, the greater the likelihood that people will find and follow you. Simple as that.

Q: Is there a maximum number of hashtags you can use?
A:
 No, but you’re limited to what you can write in 140 characters –hashtags and URLs included.

Q: How do I include URLs in my message?
A
: You can just copy and paste them in. If you’d like to shorten your URL, paste your URL into Google URL shortener and click “shorten URL.”

Q: Do you get a notification when you get followers?
A:
 Yes, BUT you can turn off notifications if you like.

What would YOU still like to learn about Twitter? Comment below and I’ll respond!