The Free Open Access Medical Education (FOAMed) movement is upon us. For the uninitiated, FOAMed is not a teaching philosophy, it is not a teaching curriculum, but is an interactive collaborative with the single goal of making the world of medicine better. There are many platforms that can be used for this, but the leading platform is currently Twitter. Twitter can be a very powerful tool if used correctly and it can help establish your personal digital brand, decrease knowledge translation time, as well as help build personal learning networks [It can also be horribly misused, full of sound and fury signifying nothing – but we’ll leave that for another article]. Right now, we’ll focus on Twitter’s positive potential, laying out three of the top ways that you can increase twitter engagement.
1. Get Past the Egg
This is the single most important pearl and the reason I am listing it as number one. The standard twitter profile comes with an egg. The single most important thing you can do to increase engagement is optimize your twitter bio. Use a professional profile picture, say something that represents you, include your city/where you work, and include links to your other sites/blogs you are active on. Nobody wants to follow a faceless egg, so by personalizing your profile you show there is a real person behind the content that is being produced or shared.
2. Be the signal, not the noise
There is a lot conversation that is constantly occurring on Twitter. There is a continuous stream of information that can often seem like noise. Being a part of the “signal” can mean something as simple as including a relevant hashtag (i.e. #FOAMed), embedding links to useful content, or even adding a relevant image to your tweet. By the way if you are going to post a link, consider using bit.ly to shorten your links, its just more aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. Posting informative, aesthetically pleasing, content will help get you more engagement.
3. Use a scheduler
No not a personal assistant, but a software system like Hootsuite or Buffer, which will allow you to schedule tweets for future dates and times. You can create a bunch of great content and spread it out over time instead of doing short bursts of information. You can even use this strategy to help with spaced repetition of content to help increase retention of content. This will also allow you to hit multiple time zones and potentially reach a larger audience. Most importantly this will give you regular consistency of information without having to be married to your phone or computer all the time. This may have been the single best time saving thing I did.