Twitter for Healthcare Content Research
At first, your blog was sizzling … now it’s Fizzling
So maybe you’ve added a blog to your hospital site, or your practice site. And maybe you had some things to say … at first. But then the well ran dry. Now you’re wondering what to write about; you’re wondering what content you can create that will (1) be found by your prospective patient community, and (2) provide value for them. You’re asking, “Exactly how do I find out what health information they’re looking for online?” Well, you’ve come to the right place. Some more Secret Sauce … How to Know For Absolute Certainty What Your Community Wants You to Tell Them! Or, to put it even more bluntly: Healthcare Content That Connects. Time for research. It’s easy with Twitter: Twitter for Healthcare content.
Research? Sounds Like Work
Before I get to the Secret Sauce, I’ll let you in on a little-used tool for finding out what your community is talking about. And, for the sake of this conversation, your “community” is your community of prospective patients. Aw heck, toss in your actual patients while you’re at it. Because this activity will help keep them engaged too.
The tool is simply … Twitter. Yes, really. Twitter for healthcare content research.
Twitter is an awesome research tool; a tool that will provide insight into the questions that your community has in your area of specialization. And it’s easy. I promise.
Open a Twitter Account
Don’t have an account? No problem. It’s easy. Type “twitter.com” into your browser and sign up for a FREE account on that landing page. You don’t even need to include much information on your profile. You can do that later, if you begin to “Tweet” content from your account. But for now, you’ll simply use Twitter as a research tool.
Let’s look at just one example … let’s say that you’re an endocrinologist … even more specific, let’s say that you’re a surgeon who specializes in treating yucky diabetic foot ulcers. So: log onto Twitter. Once on your home page, look at the top of the page to find the “Search Twitter” box, like this:
Type in “diabetic ulcer” and click on the little magnifying-glass to begin the search.
What did you find?
Right: a long list of tweets – from both practitioners offering products and services; and patients searching for information; and also from “authority sites” like the Mayo Clinic. Take a look at the topics being Tweeted, and use these to modify your search to find more specific information. For example, do the search again, this time for “ surgery for diabetic ulcers.” Interesting …
Here’s another trick that you may not be familiar with: do a single-word search for a topic – like “diabetes” – but this time start the word with the “pound-sign” or “hash-tag,” with no space, like this:
“ #diabetes ”
Pretty interesting results …
Next … Tweet Chats
And note that as you move through Twitter search results like these, you’re likely to stumble on Tweets about “Tweet-Chats.” Tweet Chats are regularly-scheduled meetups that happen on Twitter, focused on a specific topic. Each Tweet Chat has its own “hashtag” so that people can follow all the tweets from participants of that Tweet Chat. If you don’t find a Tweet Chat on your favorite topic, take a look at this link on How to Find Twitter Chats.
How to Use Tweet Chats?
Log onto Twitter at the designated time of the Tweet Chat that you’re interested in, and search for the Hashtag for that Chat. The list of tweets from participants will show up in that list. It’s best to simply “lurk” at first (watch, don’t participate), because things can move pretty fast. Watch a couple before you chime in to be on the safe side; get a feel for the culture of the chat.
The point of this exercise is that you can use Twitter:
- to find out what the diabetic community (for our example) is interested in
- to find out who the authority figures are on a topic
- to find the Tweet Chats on a topic
- to find out who is interested in a topic
From there, it’s a pretty easy step to look at the major contributors on a topic, click on their username to look at their profile. Their profile probably includes a website url, and maybe even an email address – just in case you might want to connect with someone to answer a question they had; or to follow up or collaborate in some way. Connection.
And, once you’re familiar with a Tweet Chat, it’s a pretty easy step for you to chime in and contribute; establish your expertise. Make connections … follow others, others will follow you.
Over time, Twitter may provide another audience for your health content. But even if you never get to that point, Twitter can provide you with a valuable research tool to know what health information your community is looking for.
That’s Twitter, and for those of you who are new to Twitter, drop me a line and I will send you an easy-to-understand guide for using Twitter to connect in the healthcare space. And note that I’ve focused on using Twitter as a research tool … there are other ways to use social media to connect with your prospective patient community.
As an alternative to Twitter – and thanks to a heads-up from Michael H. (@whosthatmickel on Twitter) – check out Topsy.com for searching Twitter. It looks pretty awesome!
(12/30/2015 Note: Friend, Michelle Wallace, tells me that Apple has shut down Topsy).
Three Questions for You:
- Do you currently have a professional Twitter account?
- How do you use it? Do you use Twitter or for healthcare content research?
- Do you follow any Tweet Chats, and if so, which ones? (take a look at #hcsm)
Please take a moment to leave your answers in the comments box. Thanks!