Social media for GPs – what to avoid on Twitter

Earlier, we wrote to you about the benefits of bothering with social media platforms. We listed 5 things you should do when reaching out via Twitter.  Well, now it’s time for…

5 Twitter Don’ts

You’ve signed up to Twitter and seem to be gaining a following. The articles you link to seem to be of interest, and that nerdy joke you posted got retweeted 10 times. You feel like you’re on a roll. But at this stage it’s easy to make a couple mistakes and stunt your ability to grow your reach.

Here are 5 things you should avoid when using Twitter.

  1. #hashtags

Hashtags and Twitter are synonymous. But whilst they come hand in hand, there are many faux pas that should be avoided.

  • Firstly, always check your spelling, and be consistent with the hashtags you use. If you’re using #medicaljournal don’t change it to #medjournals later on. Be consistent. And don’t worry if your hashtag doesn’t gain an instant following. Be persistent, keep using it, and give it time.
  • Don’t be scared of capital letters! Make sure you’re understood and separate the words in your hashtag, especially if it’s a long one, e.g. #GPWorkingHoursSouthLondon
  • Don’t #hashtag #every #word. It is suggested that 2-3 hashtags per post are more than sufficient.
  • Be concise. Only hashtag yourself into trends that reflect the post, and the content you want to express. If your post is research related, then tag it to the right group like #STEM or #GPResearch, and if you’re tweeting about the way things actually work, then use something like #GPPractices
  1. @ or #

While we’re on the topic of hashtags, when do we use them, and when do we use @? Well, it’s simple.  Don’t use @to connect your tweet to a trending topic – that’s a job for the hashtag. Use it when you’re talking directly to a specific Twitter account user, or if you want to share specific information with a person and their followers. Tweet us @GPViewUK to see how it works.

  1. Keep it Social

Don’t forget that it is social media. Don’t go silent and just tweet in one direction. Make it a conversation and engage with your followers. It might be a good idea to decide whether your profile will be used in a personal or professional capacity. Remember that unless your profile is private, your tweets will be available to the wider public. If you would rather not share your views with  just anyone, simply change your privacy settings.

Use the @to speak directly to other Twitter uses, and don’t forget to reply if they include you in a tweet first. Some things are best kept to Direct Messages (a private inbox), however, if it’s a topic for the many, keep it out there, and don’t forget to connect and hashtag relevantly to keep the conversation going.

  1. Retweeting

We all follow a few people who have great rapport. Their tweets express exactly what we think, and they put it so eloquently. It’s tempting to share their ideas, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. But don’t do it too much. After all your followers want to hear from you. If you promote other accounts too much, you run the risk of your followers cutting you out of the picture.

That said, don’t avoid retweeting completely. Just be picky about who you choose. One tweet may be great, but the original author may not share the same values you are trying to portray, so check out their page and see if their tweet, and ultimately their profile (which will be publicly approved by you, if you choose to retweet), matches the message you’re trying to convey.

  1. Constant Self-Promotion

Nobody wants to be constantly advertised to, and you won’t gain followers by promoting your self too much. This may seem contradictory, but the point is, don’t use Twitter for one thing. Mix it up. Share the odd interesting read, engage with your followers, and don’t forget to acknowledge them once in a while, especially if they retweet you. You need to use Twitter to add value. So, try to keep it at about 1/5thadvertising of your work, and 4/5thsharing knowledge, creating content, and connecting with your network.

So now you have it. 5 things to consider, and 5 things to avoid.

Give it a go, and contact us @GPViewUK, or leave a comment below.



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