Tweeting the #AMCLC

In the lead-up to AMCLC, here are some tips to help attendees keep up with the action.Tweeting the AMCLC

AMCLC is right around the corner, and what better way to stay connected than via social media? Online platforms will allow conference attendees to network with other professionals, comment on presentations, and draw colleagues' attention to online resources.

Although web tools like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest provide popular forums in which to exchange ideas, Twitter remains the preferred method of millions for sharing links, quotes, and other short bursts of information. Here are some tips to familiarize Twitter beginners with the platform and to help seasoned tweeters brush up on their messaging skills.

1. Embrace the Length

One fundamental rule to keep in mind is that Twitter allots just 140 characters per tweet. The platform will not allow you to send a tweet if you exceed this character limit, so be judicious in your use of language. One way around the 140 character limitation is to abbreviate words. Although it is accept protocol to abbreviate, make sure the words you type are easily understandable — "wnt 2 ecn 4m" cannot be easily decoded as "Went to economics forum." Use this rule of thumb: when it doubt, spell it out.

2. Follow Other People

Although Twitter is well-suited to pushing messages out to many people at once, it is ideally viewed as a two-way street. To get the most use out of the platform, follow as many users as possible to increase your chances of sparking interesting conversations and enhancing your networking opportunities.

For the purposes of AMCLC, if you are new to Twitter and have recently set up your free account at www.twitter.com, start by typing "radiology" or "radiologist" in the search box. Twitter will return a host of tweets relevant to your search criteria. Click on the usernames of the users whose tweets appeal to you, and you will be directed to their profile summary. Here, you can view an inventory of their tweets. If your interest is piqued, click on the button marked "Follow" near the top of the screen, and just like that, each time they post a tweet, it will appear in your stream.

3. Tweet, Tweet, Tweet

Twitter's usefulness increases the more often you engage with it. To compose a tweet, write your message in the box marked "Compose new Tweet..." in the top left-hand corner of your Twitter home page. When you have finished, click the button marked "Tweet," and your message will be sent to your followers. If you see a thought-provoking tweet in your own stream and want to respond to it, click on the "reply" icon beneath the message. Simply type out your response and then click "Tweet" and your message will be sent.

4. Don't Forget Hash Tags

Hash tags are a handy way to ensure your tweets are seen by more than just your followers. Say you just attended the Moreton Lecture and want to see what people thought of it. Just type "Moreton Lecture" into Twitter's search box. If any attendees have tweeted about it, the search will likely return a list of tweets with some variation of "Moreton Lecutre" and a hash tag, such as "#MoretonLecture." If no one has started a hash tag for this event, be a pioneer and start one yourself. It is acceptable to include multiple hash tags in a single tweet, but try not to use too many, as they clutter up a tweet.

Here is a sample tweet that illustrates the power of hash tags:

Just attended #MoretonLecture at the #AMCLC2013. Dr. James did a great job. Patient-centered care IS the future.

5. Include Links

Links are a tweeter's best friend. Because Twitter's restrictive format does not provide a user much real estate, providing links to longer-form online content both provides your followers with a more in-depth understanding of what your tweet is about and also lends more credibility to your messages by backing them up with evidence. If the page to which you are linking has a twitter handle associated with it, it is considered good form to attribute that link to its source by including the handle at the end of your tweet, like this:

Wonderful post on imaging utilization: www.bestpracticedog.org/imagingutilization via @nicedoc

Additionally, if the URL you want to link to is longer than about twenty characters, consider using a URL shortener such as bit.ly (www.bitly.com) or ow.ly (http://ow.ly/url/shorten-url). Long URLs can quickly devour characters, so it is useful to employ these shorteners, which convert longer links into brief, unique, and sometimes customizable URLs. Here is what a tweet that utilizes a URL shortener might look like:

The #AMCLC2013 program is really helping me organize my day: http://bit.ly/Y6GK5B.

(The bit.ly link is an abbreviated version of www.bestpracticedoc.com/resources/bestpracticeguidelines/radiology)

While there is a learning curve when it comes to tweeting, it is not as difficult as it might seem. Twitter is a useful tool for communicating with a large audience on any number of topics. Radiologists can use it to meet like-minded professionals, promote new ideas, share case information, or draw attendees' attention to a presentation. Happy tweeting at the AMCLC!


By Chris Hobson

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