Fasten your seat belts because Twitter may be our bumpiest ride yet, but stick with me; we’re going places. Twitter can be a great way for your health organization to promote itself. It is different than other social media sites because the length of posts are restricted, which can be a good thing because there isn’t much room for fluff.
The short posts are ideal for people who want to get their news quickly. Twitter is also great for your health organization because it encourages two-way conversation and makes it easy for people to share tweets from others.
Twitter uses its own unique terms, which can be confusing to first-timers. Here are the basics to get you started:
- Tweet: A post on Twitter. It may contain pictures, videos, links and up to 140 characters of text.
- Handle: This is how your account is identified. It’s a fancy word for username. It will look something like this: @username123
- @ symbol: The @ symbol is used to call out usernames in tweets. For example, if another person was trying to tweet to you they would say: “Hey @username123”
- Retweet (RT): A tweet that shares what someone else has tweeted. Basically saying: “I like what you said enough to show my followers”. Take it as a compliment.
- Hashtag: It is any word or phrase that is immediately preceded by a # symbol. If you click it you can see other tweets featuring the same hashtag. For example, if you searched #health you could see what health topics people are talking about.
Twitter Tips for Getting Started
When creating a profile there are a few things that you will want to keep in mind:
- Think of a short Twitter handle that describes your organization. Don’t worry if you cannot decide on one at first, your handle can be changed at any time.
- Pick a good profile picture that is relevant to your organization. People will see this image every time you tweet so it is important to pick a high-quality photo that fits nicely into the picture dimensions.
- Select a good cover photo and write a description of your health organization on your profile. You do not want your followers to have to wonder who you are or what you do. Let them know upfront.
- Follow those that interest you. It might seem crazy but people pay attention to how many followers you have vs. how many you follow. These two numbers should be close to each other so people know that you are willing to follow them back and be assured that you are a real account. Keep in mind that birds of a feather flock together. In other words, you might want to follow your favorite comedian on your personal account not your health organization’s account.
Time to Tweet
You’re all set up so let’s start tweeting! There are some best practices that have been proven to work for other tweeters. There is definitely a learning curve to Twitter so I’ll give you some tweeting tips:
- Keep it short. It is good to keep your tweets around 100 characters so people can add their own comments when they retweet you.
- Try to keep it 80/20. This means it good for 80% of your tweets to be conversation and the other 20% to be promotion.
- Don’t spam your followers. Try to tweet 2-8 times/day. Any less people might think you have nothing to say but any more and people might unfollow you. You can also schedule tweets to post at a certain time and figure out what time is best for your organization to tweet.
- Use links and pictures. Links and pictures make your tweets more interesting. Tweets that have links have an 86% higher retweet rate. It is best to put links in the middle or at the end of tweets.
- Be two-way. Be sure to ask questions and encourage conversation about whatever health topic you specialize in. You can also @ people to make them feel included.
- Use hashtags (sparingly). Hashtags are great because you can search to see what other people on Twitter are talking about the same health topics that your organization is interested in. You can also see what health topics are popular at the time. It is important not to use too many hashtags because it makes tweets hard to read and people will think you are:
One of the many great things about Twitter is all of the special features it offers. Your health organization can take advantage of features like tweet chats to foster engagement and get people talking about certain health topics. You can also use Twitter’s new app Periscope to show your followers live video content of what your organization is up to. Another great aspect of Twitter is Twitter Analytics which allows your health organization to see how many people are seeing your tweets and engaging with you.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is a good example of a health organization that is using Twitter effectively. They use a crisp image of their logo for their profile so followers can automatically identify their organization. Their cover photo also helps to give followers a better idea of what WHO does. The organization also uses short tweets with images and links to bring more attention to their tweets.
That’s all I have to you today so it’s time for you little birdies to leave the nest. Start tweeting and take advantage of all Twitter has to offer your organization.