My role as Digital Communications Manager at NHS Improving Quality involves using our social media and digital channels to spread our latest news, publications and events.
One of the channels we use is Twitter. Twitter has grown phenomenally in recent times, and people are really beginning to understand that, when used effectively, it can be a brilliant vehicle to engage and converse with our patients and stakeholders.
For example, our recent School for Health and Care Radicals course reached an average 2.6 million people via Twitter for each of its five weeks, whilst the Student Nursing Stop the Pressure conference in Lincoln last October reached 320,000 in just one day.
It’s also worth remembering that Stop the Pressure Lincoln and NHS Change Day both started WITH JUST ONE TWEET.
Hence, part of my role now involves helping people to get started and up to speed with Twitter; from egg to fully fledged hatchling, so to speak. The actual setting up of the account is fairly straightforward, as is following people and getting started, but during this process, one of the most common comments I hear is this:
“But I have nothing to say…”
To which my reply is… “Of course you do… it all depends on who you’re saying it to – once you start tweeting you’ll be surprised at how many people are interested in what you have to say and start following you”.
It’s very common for people to have two Twitter accounts: one for work, and one for social. I, myself have a personal account, which is kept entirely separate from the official @NHSIQ one I use. With the best will in the world, I doubt that the improvement movers and shakers of the NHS really want to know all about my veg plot and chickens…
If you’re tweeting from a work account, it’s good practice to include in your bio who you work for, who you’re tweeting on behalf of, what your interests are, and a common caveat is ‘all my own views’.
But what to say?
- If you’re at a conference or event, find out the hashtag, and tweet about what’s happening, who’s there and if there are any new products or services being launched
- If you’re involved in a project or campaign you can share ideas and resources – instantly. You’ll soon find that others will join the conversation
- Or why not join in a Twitter Chat? – @WeNurses hold one every Tuesday at 8pm #WeNurses
- Anything that has a link, be it a YouTube film, Slideshare presentation or pins on Pinterest can be tweeted
Some top tips for successful tweeting are:
- Tweet photos and tag them – photos on Twitter are now instantly pinnable on Pinterest – thus potentially helping your content go even further
- If you wouldn’t say something to someone’s face in real life, don’t do it on Twitter – be polite and courteous – remember your tweets can be seen by all your followers, and, if you have an open profile, anyone at all
- Follow like-minded, connected people, and there’s a good chance they’ll follow you back
eg, in a work capacity this could be Healthwatch organisations, CCGs, Trusts and Hospitals. In a personal capacity it could be… well… whoever takes your fancy, really
- Don’t bombard your followers with irrelevant links or information, or purely ‘all about you’ – varied posts keep people interested
- Try to stagger your posts throughout the day – people tend to dip in and out of their Twitter feed at different times
- Always remember… EVERYONE has something to say!
If you are remotely interested in my veg plot and chickens, you can follow me at https://chooksandroots.wordpress.com/