The challenge of recruiting new scholarly tweeters

I have blogged about this topic several times: How do you get other scholars onboard Twitter? Unless they are already there, they can be difficult to convince of the benefits of Twitter. Time constraints; horror stories of misinformation, fake profiles and a channel for spreading evil rumours; and assumptions that Twitter is the essence of annoying Facebook status updates keep popping up as reasons not to join Twitter.

And I’m not alone in experiencing this phenomena. Eva Alisic, a fellow scholarly tweeter, is also struggling with getting her colleagues to join in on Twitter discussions. Inspired by the #hcsmanz chats and #phdchat she has set up a Twitter Journal club on Mental Health Research (#traumaresearch). The challenge is however to get people on board Twitter. In order to make it easy for new Twitters to join, she has made this short video “Twitter for Academics: Instruction video”. It’s tailored to mental health researchers but contains general information as well.

It covers how to:
1. Create a Twitter account
2. Fill out your profile and send your first tweet
3. Find trauma & PTSD experts to follow
4. Use hashtags, with examples specific for research and mental health
5. Join the #traumaresearch journal club via Twitter or Tweet chat

The video is very simple and a good starting point for to-be Twitters, who are ready to face their prejudice of being bombarded with useless information about their friends everyday life, fake profiles and tons of rumours and non-trustworthy information. I hope Eva’s first #traumaresearch journal club, which took place on Friday 23. February went well and that her video has helped new tweeters to join the rest of us 🙂


Can you do a lecture at university level in 25 tweets?

Last week the existence of a virtual university with its address on Twitter came to my knowledge. Svenska Twitteruniversitetet or The Swedish Twitter University as it is also named. The idea of a Twitter university was born in the mind of Marcus Nilsson (@ozonist) sort of in a random moment (read more about it here).

The concept is pretty simple. An invited speaker, that be a scientist, an academic etc. gives a lecture divided into 25 tweets (each of a maximum length on 140 characters). Each tweet must be broken naturally and thus be able to stand alone. Using the built-in Twitter limitation such as the length of a tweet is meant to stimulate creativity and challenge the tweeters to formulate their ideas as effectively and interestingly as possible. In addition to the 25 tweets, the speaker responds to questions from the followers – at least for one hour – with their responses not counting to the 25 tweets.

This week, on 13th December, a lecture on “How Apps, Smartphones, and Tablets Will Revolutionize Healthcare” was given by Jim Walker, Director Emerging Trends – Cadient Group and founder of AnywhereHealth.com. The lecture was the seventh from the Twitter university and the first to take up a health related topic. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to follow the lecture live, but the transcript is available on the Twitter University Website.

The transcript includes the 25 tweets and questions and responses from the followers. It is very much divided up into a presentation section (the 25 tweets) and after that an invitation to discuss. As far as I can see, there was not much discussion in this particular lecture, and many of the followers expressed disappointment in the session. I must admit that I tend to agree with the critic. The lecture was mostly a listing of a different apps (some of them definitely very cool) that are related to health care and health monitoring. There were some, but very few, reflections on how these apps will revolutionize health care and how it will play together with the exiting health care system, but no reference to experiences, literature or the like that could document this. A few weaknesses of health apps, such as new equity problems due to differences in access to smartphones and lack of IT skills and the risk of technology leading patients to forget listening to their own bodies, where brought up, but again without documentation or much more reflection.

I am not certain whether the problem with the lecture was due to this specific presentation or just an illustration of the fact that doing a lecture through 25 tweets is a big challenge. My best Twitter comparison is the #hcsm chats (chats/discussions on Health Care and Social Media), which I have actually found more rewarding. The questions and debate back and forth just seem to take better advantage of the Twitter model. Transporting a traditional (monologue) lecture to Twitter definitely requires a much more interactively thought out structure to the 25 tweets.

This Twitter university is still new however, and I find it a fun idea that could perhaps be useful. I look forward to following it and to see if the lectures will develop as the invited speakers become more acquainted with the media.


Sweden have expanded the Twitter discussions on Health Care Social Media (#hcsm) family with #hcsmse

On the 11.11.11 from 12-13 (CET) a Swedish initiated pilot tweet chat will take off. It is part of the #hcsm discussions on Health Care and Social Media. #hcsmse is now a Swedish addition to the family – or at least a trial to see if there is interest in a discussion in Swedish on different aspects of health care and the health industry and the use of social media.

The first pilot tweet chat #hcsmse has been arranged by Physician and post doctoral fellow Pär Höglund from Jönköping Academy and PhD in biotechnology and journalist Ulla Rudsander from Stockholm Science City Foundation.

The topics to be discussed today are:

  1. What are the origins of patient participation?
  2. Why is 1177 (vårdguiden) not to be found on twitter?

The questions raised will as far as I understand be in Swedish, but comments in English are welcome too. Thus, this particular chat is of course primarily of interest to people from Sweden, but I do hope that Danes, Norwegians and Fins will participate too. It would be interesting with a Nordic perspective on the discussions. Especially the similarities in Nordic health care systems taken into consideration.

You can here read more about to follow the chat and bit more on the background (in English and in Swedish)

Follow and participate here: Tweetchat.com or #hcsmse

Best of luck to #hcsmse!


Updated list of # Health Care Social Media discussions on Twitter

Inspired by comments to my post about #hcsm, #hcsmeu etc, I have now updated the list with new regional twitter hashtags from Australia & New Zealand, Latin America, Asia and some country specific from Europe. In addition, there is also a #hcsmglobal. You can see the complete and updated list in the previous post.

Also it is possible through iTunes to download apps for some of the #hcsm. Eg. find the app for hcsmglobal here and the hcsmanz here.

Since the list is now quite long I thought I’d just share again what benefits there can be in following and contributing these hashtags.

Why use #hcsm, #hcsmeu or #hcsmca when you are on Twitter?

Apart from the scheduled discussions which many of these Twitter discussions groups have, it is also possible to use the hashtags outside the discussions when you are writing about something relevant to the topic health care communication & social media. So why should you do that? Well #hcsmca have listed some of the reasons, which I take the liberty of sharing with the rest of you in a slightly moderated version

  • Share and inform: Tell others about the great stuff you’ve read or are doing.
  • Broadcast good stuff: Don’t be shy. If you’ve got something you want to get out there, leverage the #hcsm/#hcsmca/#hcsmeu communities and the get the word out about your new initiative, your latest blog post or an upcoming conference or event.
  • Ask questions: Adding #hcsm/#hcsmca/#hcsmeu to your question lets you tap into the collective intelligence of a community that is further reaching than any single set of followers.
  • Request participation: If you’re looking for people to contribute comments, opinions or ideas, the Twitter discussion groups gives easy access to a broad range of people
  • Expand your network: Participate in #hcsm/#hcsmca/#hcsmeu conversations any time and find people you want to follow and be found by others. This could be a way to connect with people you would normally not have access to
  • Twitter filter: Use it as a Twitter filter to make sure that tweets are relevant to your area of interest
  • Stay current: Get to know of new articles, initiative, projects, news quickly

I am trying to find the balance of which to follow and it is in the beginning a little time-consuming, but interesting indeed and a world one should be aware of. There are lots of people and insights to be found.