Tweet Chat Tips

Don’t forget to participate in the next # JACR Tweet Chat on Thursday, September 28th at noon EDT — Topic: Personal Branding!

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Tweet chats in radiology are a fantastic way to engage in discussion with colleagues and patient advocates across a global scale, during radiology meetings and/or all year round. However, the concept of a tweet chat may be daunting to some who want to participate but don’t know how or where to begin. As radiology-related tweet chats become more frequent, this quick guide has been crafted to demystify the basics of a virtual discussion with the hope that more radiologists at all levels of training will participate in the future.

Before the Tweet Chat

Oftentimes, upcoming tweet chats will have questions posted prior to allow potential participants time to peruse them and formulate answers they may want to share during the tweet chat. For example, JACR®, which holds regular tweet chats every 4th Thursday of the month, has the topic and questions posted on its website beforehand, as well as supplemental reading materials so that participants are well informed and can contribute to a robust discussion (found at http://www.jacr.org/twitter-archive).

Pre-drafting some responses can be useful, especially for those who may not be as “twitter conditioned” to think quickly and on the fly, as these tweet chats tend to occur at a rapid pace. However, it is recommended that you don’t schedule responses on a social media management platform such as Hootsuite or Buffer, as the responses often don’t flow with the conversation and may randomly appear out of sequence. Moreover, this can also disrupt the flow to the overall discussion.

Twitter Basics

If you are not familiar with Twitter, you may see some abbreviations associated with tweets that leave you feeling perplexed. “RT” refers to a re-tweet, which indicates that someone is sharing your tweet word-for-word. “MT” refers to modified tweet, which means that your tweet has been shared but modified, often to meet the 140 character limit on a post.

Most Twitter tools allow for the option for you to “comment” or “quote tweet” when you are retweeting a post. Additionally, you can do the same on your own post, which can be an effective way to add more context to your tweet, so that your comment is directly linked to the original tweet.

If you would simply like to reply to another twitter user or participant, you can select the reply icon, denoted by the left turn arrow icon. During a tweet chat, it is important to remember to include the designated hashtag so that others can follow along and your responses can be archived as part of the conversation.

During the Tweet Chat

Posts must be 140 characters or less and should include a particular hashtag associated with the tweet chat so that the discussion can be tracked during the chat and after. For example, the JACR tweet chats use the hashtag, #JACR, and the RADxx tweet chats use the hashtag #RADxx.

As you draft your responses, always remain vigilant of which question is being discussed. For example, if your answer is in response to Topic 1, begin your answer with T1. Please note, that some tweet chats may use the terminology “Question 1,” or even ask that your responses lead with an “A” for answer followed by the number pertaining to the question such as 1, 2, etc. Regardless, the proper response terminology should be specified at the initiation of the tweet chat.  

If you run out of characters for a topic or answer, there are different ways to indicate on your tweet that your post is part of a series. For example, if you were participating in a JACR tweet chat, your tweet may look like this:

  • T1 [1/2]: FIRST RESPONSE #JACR
  • T1 [2/2]: SECOND RESPONSE #JACR

Your posts can be fortified by including graphics or website URLs that may be of interest to those participating in the tweet chat. If you need to truncate the URL, you can use bit.ly to do this. However, some platforms such as TweetChat automatically shorten a URL.

There are a number of ways to follow the flow of a tweet chat, such as Twitter.com, TweetChat, and TweetDeck. You may also choose to use multiple platforms, just in case one is more effective and easier for you to navigate once the tweet chat begins. If you use twitter.com, sign in and search the designated tweet chat hashtag in the search bar at the top of the webpage. Once the search is complete, select the option “latest” in the search filter at the top of the page. This will allow you to see all of the latest tweets pertaining to that particular hashtag and will automatically populate new tweets that include that hashtag in reverse chronologic order. A similar way this can be achieved is by participating in the tweet chat on your smart phone but following the tweet chat through the search filter through the twitter app on another device, such as your IPad.

More information on TweetChat and TweetDeck:

TweetChat: Allows you to follow a feed that is associated with the hashtag that you provide. It also automatically adds the hashtag to the end of all of your tweets and includes a resource to shorten URLs. It will automatically populate new tweets that use the hashtag.

TweetDeck: Also allows you to track a particular hashtag. Using the application, first remove columns that may seem confusing by clicking and then selecting “remove.” Once you have removed all of the columns, click the “plus” sign on the left-hand corner. Then a window will pop up, asking you to choose a column type and click search. In the search window, type in your hashtag and click it. Then click “add column” at the bottom of the pop-up, and a column will appear that shows, in close to real time, all tweets associated with that particular hashtag.  Of note, if you are using Tweet Deck, you will manually have to type in the hashtag when you post. Additionally, as this platform is a bit more complex, it is recommended that you test the platform prior to the tweet chat.

After the Tweet Chat:

Although the main goal of a tweet chat, particularly in radiology, is to partake in real-time, stimulating discussion amongst colleagues and even patient advocates, continuing these discussions after the tweet chat are encouraged, including sharing resources. Using the designated hashtag is also helpful in furthering the discussion. As a result, these on-going discussions can be invaluable in growing your virtual network, ultimately providing an innovative way in continuing to strengthen relationships and knowledge in our profession. We hope to see you in the radiology twitterverse!

Amy PatelBy Amy Patel MD, breast radiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston; Courtney Tomblinson MD, chief radiology resident at Mayo Clinic Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Chris McAdams MD, Breast Imaging Fellow at Emory University in Atlanta

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