27 Nov Why should I bother with Twitter? The GP edition.
The rise of social media in recent years is undeniable, but some GPs are still reluctant to embrace it. Two most common concerns that we’ve come across are: (understandably) a lack of time „I’m too busy -I have too much on my plate as it is!” and „What’s the point? I am already on Facebook/LinkedIn”.
There is, however a number of benefits that Twitter can bring – both in areas of personal interests and professional development. If you’re still not sure whether this channel could be of use or if you’re trying to convince a fellow GP to join, see our list below:
1.Stay up to date
Twitter is an open platform, which means that unlike on other social media channels, you can control who you follow and whose updates you see (aside from private accounts that have to accept your request first). Most experts and official channels are on Twitter to share information and enable a dialog with their followers – this provides you with a unique insight into areas and issues relevant to General Practice. As word count is limited, usually quoted snippets of information go straight to the point, potentially saving you a lot of time.
It is a great way to find out what’s new from official governing bodies and regulators, but also other accounts that provide useful commentary on latest news and changes. Twitter also allows you to stay up to date with latest research, changing guidelines, and any upcoming developments linked to Sustainability and Transformation Plans and GP Forward View.
Twitter might also help you anticipate patients’ questions and concerns. As you will see the latest news coming up on your feed, you might be better prepared to address questions and worries linked to sensationalised headlines and inaccurate healthcare tips that sometimes follow.
10 accounts to get you started:
- Your local CCG
- and of course @GPViewUK
2.Build up your professional network
Twitter’s openness also comes in handy when you’re thinking about expanding your professional network. Unlike LinkedIn, you don’t have to seek out links and connections (2nd, 3rd, group?) and in most cases, you can just follow and see updates from GP leaders and interesting colleagues. Due to this lack of limitations it is also easier to start a dialogue with anyone that inspires you or to find like-minded colleagues. Is is easier to feel like a part of a large community facing the same challenges and sharing similar experiences too.
Raising your online profile can also expose you to new opportunities in the future. You never know who you’re going to cross paths with. Sometimes it might even lead to lecturing and guest-blogging opportunities.
Are your professional connections getting lost amongst other accounts on your timeline? No problem, you can set up a handy list to see their updates separately.
3. Never miss a conference again
Most conferences nowadays come with a designated hashtag. Ever wondered what is the point of following it? Conference hashtags not only help you see who is attending, see all relevant highlights and connect with colleagues, but they also provide valuable insights from both the organisers and attendees alike. So you’re getting the official line and the inside scoop in just one click.
This is particularly valuable when for some reason you are unable to attend the conference of choice. You can still follow what happened, from anywhere and at any time, and see useful commentary and often key slides and bullet points. You can also review the feed if you’re interested in attending the following year – you will be able to see the scope and breadth of areas covered.
This also provides an opportunity for easier connections for more introverted colleagues. Saying hello on Twitter might be a great ice-breaker before meeting in real life.
This feature is also valuable when following any important events that unfold in real time, such a the introduction of a new budget or government changes. All of the major events usually come with a useful hashtag to follow. To find them check out the ‘Trends for you’ section on your profile.
4. Collaborate, exchange experiences and problems
As linking with colleagues is easier on Twitter, so is collaboration. Are you facing a tricky problem or seeking an innovative solution? You can easily seek out suggestions and support by gaining insights from colleagues online. You can always tweet questions directly to colleagues or larger groups of interest.
Participating in scheduled Twitter chats to connect with others sharing similar interests can be another way of exchanging ideas on a particular topic. Seek out a larger group connected to the area that holds regular tweetchats or organise one yourself. Simply come up with a hashtag and convenient time of day and invite your followers to join in.
Twitter can also provide you with a unique insight into what patients really need and are thinking, both by engaging in conversations and by just listening to (following) patient groups online.
Ready to take the next step? Apart from gaining a wide variety of insights from fellow tweeps, you can also share new ideas and innovations. Are you involved in an interesting project? Are you trying out a new way of managing your practice? Is there an issue that you would like to publicise? Twitter could be just the platform to start. At it’s core Twitter is as much about receiving news as it is a platform for broadcast, so if you have something interesting to say, don’t hesitate and tweet!
You never know who will see your idea and what opportunities might come from it. By building up awareness on Twitter you can increase the visibility of your project within specialty or interest groups too.
Not ready to spread the news with the world wide web yet? Remember you can control who sees your tweets.
Go on give it a try, we know you want to! And if you’re still unsure follow our next installment of social media tips, where we will focus on things to avoid and keep in mind whilst on Twitter.