Social Media Primersocial media primer

Four years ago, the night before my very first ACR national meeting, I signed into an, until that point, unused Twitter account.

Over the course of my first week with the ACR in D.C., encouraged by expert users in the College, I went from Twitter novice to an enthusiastic and avid user of the platform. I imagine that some of you might be reading this post in preparation for your very first ACR meeting. Others of you might be veteran attendees considering diving into social media with new enthusiasm this year. Still others of you might be unable to make it to Washington, DC, this year and are in search of a way to stay abreast of important topics in radiology from afar. Whatever the case, I hope to demystify some of the currently available social media platforms available to you.


An online social networking platform, Twitter allows members to publicly share brief online messages comprised of 140 characters or less. Sharing a memorable quote heard at a meeting or compelling a reader to click on a link to an article you find interesting are just a few reasons to tweet. Professional societies have their own twitter accounts, or handles, via which they share official viewpoints, information and news. (The College’s, for example, is @RadiologyACR.)

Utilizing a hashtag, a phrase preceded by a “#,” Twitter users can engage in conversations revolving around a common topic. In coming weeks, you’ll see many radiologists employing the hashtag #ACR2017 with tweets related to the national meeting. Hashtags are searchable and allow interested Twitter users to search for real time commentary from fellow members on current events from or to participate in an ongoing conversation. The JACR®, for example, routinely holds stimulating “tweet chats” or online real-time forums, utilizing the hashtag #JACR.

Twitter Tips

1. Consider maintaining separate personal and professional twitter accounts. You may not want to share your angry sports fan tweets with a prospective employer.

2. Follow professional society accounts such as @RadiologyACR or @ACRRFS to get a pulse on the happenings of your specialty

3. Consult symplur’s radiology tag ontology, a growing list of radiology specific hashtags


Less than a year ago, the ACR launched a closed online community specifically for the use of its members. Logging in with your ACR account at opens the door to this stimulating online community. All users are given access to the general community forum, through which they can communicate with any and all ACR members. Based on member demographics and subcommittee participation, additional, smaller forums are also assigned. For example, all radiology trainees are members of the RFS forum.

A summary of ongoing discussions in each engage community is provided to each user via email in a real-time or daily digest format. Users can also opt out of the email digest function. Private messages can be sent between users (which are also sent to the recipient via email). The health of the Engage community is monitored by an oversight community of fellow radiologists to ensure that the platform continues to meet the needs of its user base. All in all, Engage is the most specific online community for members of the College.

Engage Tips

1. Customize your engage profile. You can upload a photo, add your educational and employment history, and even import this data from the platform I’ll discuss next, LinkedIn.

2. Take a look at your subscription preferences for the community digests. If real time updates are too frequent, daily digests are a great option.

3. Engage provides a great format for in depth discussions. Without a character limit for posts (unlike Twitter’s brief 140 character format), Engage is a good option for lengthier debates or explanations.


An online employment-related network, LinkedIn acts somewhat like a digital rolodex. Members are encouraged to keep their professional profiles up-to-date, providing information on their educational history, employment history, and skills relevant to employment. Users can form “connections” with other users who may be colleagues, classmates or simply users with similar interests. Members can endorse each other for employment based skills, for example, healthcare administration or public speaking. The LinkedIn algorithm suggests users that members might want to form connections with, as well as ways in which a member can improve their online presence. LinkedIn is a high-traffic website and as such,is usually one of the first search engine results to appear when googling a LinkedIn member. Maintaining a professional and up-to-date profile on LinkedIn is one simple way to ensure that the image presented to those researching you online is an accurate one.

LinkedIn Tips

1. Make sure that your educational and employment history is accurate and up-to-date.

2. Consider providing links to articles or publications so that readers can find them.

3. Be a good LinkedIn citizen by providing the support to others that you would hope to receive. Have something nice to say about a colleague? Consider endorsing them for a skill or providing a testimonial to their skill set.

I encourage you to take a look at social networking with fresh eyes. If you’ve avoided using one of the networks I’ve discussed, consider giving them a try. If you’re already an avid user, consider how you might assist a new user get started. Undoubtedly we’ll see Twitter, Engage and LinkedIn activity reach peak levels in the weeks to come as we approach the annual meeting. Don’t miss out on the conversation!

By Ashley E. Prosper, MD

Share this content

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn