Twitter can be intimidating when you were starting out. I still remember wondering what I should share for my first tweet. I also remember the feeling like I was talking to an empty room. And, to be fair, at first you are.

With time and consistent efforts on Twitter, you can grow your number of followers and build a network of people to discuss all kinds of health topics. Many doctors and other health professionals either quit before they really try, or they simply don’t know how.

Here are some simple ways you can get started and get involved in the Twitter conversation.

Follow other healthcare providers.

Search for other healthcare providers in your field. Also find prominent physicians, like @SeattleMamaDoc, @KevinMD, @Doctor_V and others. Pay attention to what they are doing on Twitter and how they are discussing medical topics. Then get involved. Reply to some of their tweets or ask questions. Thank them for a post you enjoyed. Share their tweets and articles with others.

Ask questions.

Twitter is a great place to learn as well as teach. If you’re curious what the public thinks about a topic related to your field, ask it in a tweet. Ask how others in your field how they treat a difficult problem. You might use a hashtag in your tweet to increase the number of people who might see it if you don’t have many followers.

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Share health articles.

Set up an RSS feed (you can use a service like Feedly) to deliver the latest articles from any source you pick. Find 10 to 20 sources, like WebMD, CNN, The New York Times and many others. Go through the articles every few days and share one or two a day on Twitter. Include a few words with your thoughts on each article to pique the interest of your followers.

Tweet at medical conferences.

If you’re sitting in the audience at the American College of Physicians Annual Meeting, tweet some of the new research being presented. Make sure to include the hashtag of the conference. Interact with others tweeting from that conference to build your network.
Giving medical talk to audience

Participate in tweetchats.

Tweetchats are short (usually one hour) “discussions” of a specific topic. Usually a moderator asks a handful of questions and asks participants to answer using a specific hashtag, like #SportsSafety. People from all over the world can answer those questions and interact with others by replying and using that hashtag. At first, you might just participate in tweetchats. When you become more comfortable with Twitter, you might even consider hosting a regular tweetchat.

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Share quotes and images.

Feel free to deviate from medical tweets periodically. People love to share inspirational quotes, so tweet ones that motivate you. Share images of picturesque vacation spots or your OR team. Showing your personal side occasionally is never a bad idea.