Why and how you should tweet in Global Surgery
Dominique Vervoort @DVervoort94
Table of Contents
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Why is Twitter so important in Global Surgery? How do I get started? How should I tweet for maximal impact? Who should I follow? Which hashtags should I use? Tips & Tricks FAQ
About the author: Dominique Vervoort is founding member and co-Chair of InciSioN â€“ International Student Surgical Network and is joining the Program in Global Surgery and Social Change (PGSSC) at Harvard Medical School after obtaining his M.D. at the KU Leuven in July 2018. #GlobalSurgery
Why is Twitter so important in Global Surgery? Over 40% of adults possess smartphones, with over three-quarters of their usage time devoted to internet and mobile applications. 1.5 billion people are registered on social media networks, and over 80% of them regularly engage with them. Social media are therefore an incredibly powerful platform to reach a large proportion of the population through mediums they use for many hours a week. In this modern era, social media should not be perceived as a useless or redundant addition to oneâ€™s workflow, but a meaningful part of physiciansâ€™ jobs. Social media allows us to engage and connect with colleagues, seniors, juniors, and patients without being limited by geographical access or resource constraints. Conference tweeting is another great avenue of Twitter, broadening the audience and opening discussions with distant tweeters, and thus allowing for more diverse and increased scholarly activities. Unlike the traditional academic surgical hierarchy, Twitter often supersedes conventional hierarchies, allowing anyone at any stage of their (non-)surgical career to interact as equals with equally important opinions and voices. The increased community participation may facilitate innovation, inspiration, and overall morale. Along the lines, allthough mentorship is important, over half of trainees go through their medical school careers and residency without a mentor, mainly due to difficulties in identifying mentors with whom to establish a personal connection. Twitter transcends personal and, especially, geographical barriers, giving people from all over the world the opportunity to find mentors many hundreds and thousands of kilometers away. Last but not least, Twitter allows people to advocate for a cause on a wider level, reaching a global audience that might not attend the conferences they attend or cross paths in the specialty fields they engage in in daily life. It allows people to connect with the wider public, as well as draw the attention of bigger organizations, institutions, or high-profile individuals, such as politicians, policy makers, and (inter)national leaders. As such, Twitter has grown to become an essential tool for global surgery advocates and (aspiring) surgeons, facilitating networking, learning, mentoring, research collaboration, and spreading awareness about the cause.
How do I get started? You’re lucky. Getting started with Twitter is easier than making an omelet – then again, I’m not the world’s greatest cook.
1 Go to http://www.twitter.com and sign up following the given steps. Make sure to
get an easy Twitter handle (your username), so people can remember or easily find it when they want to tag you.
2 Add a clear headshot of yourself as a picture – people want to see you, especially if you’re smiling.
3 Fill your account with exact, but concise information. In a few keywords, describe
yourself, your affiliations, and varia. Include some hashtags (e.g., #GlobalSurgery) or relevant handles (e.g., your university, your institution, etc.) so people find you when they look for the respective hashtags and/or handles.
4 Learn Twitter terminology. A tweet is a message you post, a retweet (“RT”) is
someone else’s message you share by clicking on the arrows below the message. Liking a message is done through clicking on the heart next to the arrows. Commenting is done through the left text bubble.
5 Send out your #MyFirstTweet! Let the world know you are on Twitter – welcome to the Twitterverse!
How should I tweet for maximal impact? Target your audience. Identify who you want to reach – the public, with general statements? Trainees and specialists, with opportunities or technical, skills-oriented messages? Other? Timing. If not your own time zone/surroundings, identify the population you want to reach on Twitter. Activity is highest between 11am and 3pm, peaking at 1pm, Monday through Thursday. However, after 3pm, especially on Fridays and during the entire weekend, Twitter activity drops, implying reduced activity when people are off work.
However, do note that when it’s 3pm EST, it’s 9pm CEST, etc. It is therefore important to clarify which time zones you want to target, whilst also taking into account the demographics of your target audience. The above timings are based on the general public and not focused on the surgical specialist community that might not be able to connect during those times. Through Twitter Analytics (see chapter “Tips and Tricks”), you are able to play with tweets and identify what timing works best for your following. Pictures. Using pictures not only makes your tweet “bigger” in size, it boosts retweets up to 94% compared to tweets without pictures. Make sure to have a relevant image (e.g., taken of a speaker at a conference you are tweeting about) or create your own infographics through, for example, Photoshop or online tools such as Canva. Use hashtags, but not too much – try to keep it with a maximum of 3-4 hashtags per tweet. #Nothing is as #annoying as seeing #toomany #hashtags in a #single #tweet. #YouKnowWhatIMean
Structure your tweets. Although certainly not the one-and-all solution, my go-to structures are as follows: 1. Conference tweeting: quote speakers ad verbum (exactly how it is phrased by the speaker itself â€“ nothing is as awkward as making someone look bad because you misinterpreted his/her message and rephrased it), acknowledge who it is (use their handle), and include the conference hashtag plus an overarching hashtag. Optionally, you can include an additional comment by yourself.
2. Facts and comparison: make facts relevant to people. Stating the situation in one country or given area does not do much without reference â€“ show how it compares to other situations to make your case.
3. Articles: highlight key findings or important points from an article youâ€™ve read, either fully summarizing the article for your followers or building the urge for followers to read the article themselves.
Be powerful. Where an image says more than a thousand words, a (personal) story is stronger than any other message. Aim to humanize and personalize messages, showing (y)our fellow human beings with their struggles and accomplishments. It should go without saying that pictures/stories should only be posted after consent of the respective individual(s).
Donâ€™t be afraid to provoke â€“ in fact, do provoke, but do it wisely. In this day and age, social media allows us to speak up against traditional concepts or contradictory findings. For example, traditionally, surgery has been neglected on the global health agenda, despite a mortality over four times the mortality due to public health priorities such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. Despite the latter three receiving large sums of global funding and attention, surgery and anaesthesia care are left behind without a single dollar of international funding. Note that provoking here does not de facto imply automatic neglect of other disease groupings, it poses food for thought for the international community as we go forward.
Tag accounts in your posts and pictures - sparingly. However, similar to hashtags, do this cautiously. Similarly, donâ€™t tag the same accounts in every single one of your posts (as it may ignore the respective individual(s) or organization(s)) but keep it relevant and when necessary.
Who should I follow?
InciSioN – International John Meara Surgeons4UHC Student Surgical Network @JohnMeara @Surgeons4UHC @StudentSurgNet Kee Park One.Surgery The G4 Alliance – Alliance @keepark @OneDotSurgery for Surgical, Obstetric, Trauma, and Anaesthesia Walt Johnson Surgery Matters Care @drwaltjohnson @SurgeryMatters @theG4Alliance Emmanuel Makasa Global Neurosurgery Harvard Program in @emakasa @GlobalNeuroSurg Global Surgery and Social Change (PGSSC) Mark Shrime Humans of Global @HarvardPGSSC @markshrime Surgery @HumansOfGSurg World Federation of Gregory Peck Societies of @DrGregoryPeck Lancet Commission on Anaesthesiologists Global Surgery (WFSA) Lauri Romanzi @GSCommission @wfsaorg @DrRomanzi COSECSA Safe Surgery 2020 Blake Alkire @cosecsa @safesurgery2020 @blakealkire Association of Women International Society of Anna Dare Surgeons Surgery (ISS/SIC) @annajdare @WomenSurgeons @iss_sic Naomi Wright World Journal of Surgery ASAP Today – Alliance for @PaedsSurgeon (WJS) Surgery and Anaesthesia @worldjsurg Presence Raymond Price @SurgeryASAP @drrayprice Lifebox Adrian Gelb @SaferSurgery @AdrianGelb Note: the accounts mentioned above are suggestions to follow when first starting out with Twitter. Due to limited space and aimed conciseness, accounts are listed because of their impact and reach in the #GlobalSurgery Twitter community, and this selection does not undervalue other relevant impactful accounts.
Which hashtags should I use?
#GlobalSurgery #SurgeryUHC #SafeSurgery #SurgerySaves
#FutureOfTheOR #5Billion #EquityInSurgery #SurgTweeting Awareness Days
International Womenâ€™s Day March, 8th #InternationalWomensDay #IWD World Health Day April, 7th #WorldHealthDay International Day to End Obstetric Fistula May, 23rd #IDEOF #EndFistula Global Surgery Day May, 25th #GlobalSurgeryDay
#SafeSurgery4Women #ILookLikeASurgeon #WomenInSurgery #WomenInGlobalHealth
World Humanitarian Day August, 19th #WorldHumanitarianDay #NotATarget World Anaesthesia Day October, 16th #WorldAnaesthesiaDay World Trauma Day October, 17th #WorldTraumaDay Universal Health Coverage Day December, 12th #UHCDay #SurgeryUHC
Tips & Tricks If you’ve read the booklet all the way here, you now have a good grasp of how to use Twitter as a tool, rather than another way of procrastinating from work. With the following tips, you’ll quickly grow from an effective user to a true Twitter ninja: Tweetdeck. A handy (and free!) dashboard owned by Twitter allowing you to schedule tweets in advance and observe several feeds at once (e.g., user X, hashtag Y, list Z) for more efficient desktop tweeting.
Twitter Analytics. Analyze what is working and what is not – where are most of your followers based, which times do they engage most, what type of messages get the most impressions/likes/retweets/comments? Twitter Analytics allow you to measure how many impressions your tweets bring about and how extensive your reach is, which should be the true parameters of “successful tweeting”, unlike the number of followers you gain.
Engage with users more than you distribute yourself. Retweet posts that provide value to your followers, ask questions, set up Twitter polls, and join Twitter chats or public conversations. Trends. You can customize trends (hashtags or keywords that are trending at a given time) to see what others talk about in your area of expertise or geographical surroundings, or leave it open to global trends to see what is trending on Twitter overall. This way, you can find out about new things, but also join discussions and have your say on a matter. Don’t just retweet and regurgitate news, but retweet with providing relevant commentary. Remember, it is important to engage with the Twitter community – this way, you’re obligated to actively read and think about their messages and are giving your personal opinion or evidence about the matter. Include Twitter videos. Videos on Twitter receive 2.5 times more replies, 2.8 times more retweets, and 1.9 more likes compared to third-party videos such as YouTube videos. Track hashtags. Who else is using the hashtags you are using (e.g., #GlobalSurgery)? Tracking hashtags allows you to find like-minded people and connect, whilst joining relevant and meaningful discussions, and finding out about the latest news, reports, and research findings. Publish your Twitter handle on other social media and your business cards. I include my Twitter handle everywhere from my business cards to my email signature; people who know about your work and are interested to learn more/stay informed about the field will follow you among other people – sometimes, they might even reach out to you more quickly compared to more traditional mediums such as email. Tweet responsibly and assume everything you tweet is permanent. Even if you delete your tweet after a couple of minutes, someone might have taken a screenshot if the message was debatable. Most importantly, if you wouldn’t say something to someone’s face, don’t tweet it. Take 2 seconds to double-check your tweet before sending it. Even seemingly innocent tweets can cause commotion or be misinterpreted because of odd wording or a typo. Tweets only live four minutes. As mentioned, timing is crucial for reaching your audience when tweeting, especially since tweets chronologically move down one’s Twitter feed. Therefore, it is best to occasionally retweet or repost your tweet(s), especially when you are trying to share an important message or opportunity you want others to be aware of.
1. What is a Twitter Chat? A Twitter Chat is a prearranged discussion on Twitter set up by one or more hosts, aided through a relevant hashtag to coordinate and easily find tweets related to the discussion (“Twitter Chat”). The host sends out questions (e.g., Q1 = Question 1) at regular time intervals (e.g., a new question every ten minutes), with participants replying to the relevant question through the use of the relevant A (e.g., A1 = Answer 1 = answer to Q1) and hashtag. Twitter Chats are a great way to gain exposure, grow your following, and engage with others, through voicing your opinion and stating your potential solutions to the questions posed. With Chats, you are connecting with others who use Twitter to interact, and not just to spectate, allowing you to create more meaningful connections. An example of a Twitter Chat is the #EquityInSurgery Twitter Chat on #GlobalSurgeryDay 2018 on May, 25th 2018, hosted by InciSioN in collaboration with the G4 Alliance, the WFSA, and the Harvard PGSSC: Q5. If you had to pitch #GlobalSurgery in a single tweet, what would you say? #GlobalSurgeryDay #EquityInSurgery A5. #GlobalSurgery aims to achieve #EquityInSurgery by treating EVERY PATIENT, regardless of background or socioeconomic status, as EQUALS. Surgery should no longer be a luxury, but a basic human right, accessible for everyone, everywhere, when needed. #GlobalSurgeryDay (Answer by @StudentSurgNet) 2. What is a Twitter List? Twitter Lists allow you to group accounts of your interest into groups. This way, without having to search through the mix of accounts you are following on your feed, you can group them in categories with their individual feeds. For example, creating a List of “Global Surgery” accounts and one of “Cute Animal Pictures” allows you to separate messages (and even hide accounts you’re following if you prefer to keep it hidden – but make sure to create a hidden list in that case).
Congratulations! You finished #GlobalSurgery 101 Why and how you should tweet in Global Surgery
Tell your friends and colleagues by tweeting about #GlobalSurgery101 and help us make the #GlobalSurgery community bigger in order to further spread the word of the #5billion without access to #SafeSurgery and #Anaesthesia care when needed.
Global Surgery 101 - Why and how you should tweet in Global Surgery.