Writing and blogging, when I finally tried it a few years back, came easily to me. Facebook and Skype did as well. Twitter was difficult. I gave up a few times. I am so glad I did not give up entirely, as I would have missed out on so many special friendships and links to great information, in the veterinary community and world at large. In case it is as strange to you as it was for me, here are a few starting points. Try it. Then try it again. I hope you find the twitter forum as rewarding as I have!
Start with a personal account. Most of the veterinarians on twitter with whom I engage speak for themselves, not their practice. This gives more freedom to say random, un-veterinary things. If you want to say, “prevent heartworm disease in your pets” in one tweet, then “my dog just did the cutest thing!” then “I got some great sweet corn at the Farmer’s Market today!” no one will say, “Well that’s a weird train of thought for a veterinary professional!” And you do not need to worry that you are representing your business.
But remember that you ARE representing your business. People DO know that you are a vet, and in a few clicks of the mouse, they can find out where you practice, if you have not bragged about it endlessly in your tweets and profile already (which I think you should, by the way.) So…
Keep it clean.
Be kind. I suppose “be kind” is also self-explanatory. Still, twitter is much more fun if everyone is kind. If you have a gripe about a company, send it to them in a DM (direct message). Then when they respond, you can tweet that - “You would not believe how quickly @GreatCompany resolved an issue for me! Thank you @GreatCompany :)”
Be twitter-kind. Twitter has its own quirks that you would not automatically know. Not shouting (THIS IS SHOUTING) is kind. “Retweeting” (Repeating another’s tweet and giving them credit) is kind. Following someone who follows you is kind. Talking directly to others using @ followed by their twitter name is kind.
Be as good at patient confidentiality as you are in Real Life. Do not share patient and client information without the permission of your client and your veterinary hospital leadership. Even with blessings all around, do not share specific medical information about a specific case.
Yes: (with permission of boss and client and photographer) “How cute is my patient?? http://twitpic.com/mjpib”
Even better: (less permission-getting needed) “How gorgeous is my cat?? http://twitpic.com/sh0of”
Follow people you would enjoy getting to know. When I started twitter, I followed family members and friends, veterinarians and other pet lovers and people in Omaha. In hindsight, that was one thing I got right from the beginning.
Keep tweeting till it makes sense. My brother Dave convinced me to start twitter, because he knew I could reach a larger audience with pet preventative care information. For several months I would open twitter, watch the time line of the people I had followed, close twitter, and sigh, “I just don’t get it. It’s like facebook without the fun pictures.” Dave would smile and say “Don’t give up” and I would repeat the process: open twitter-check timeline-close twitter-sigh-gripe. Till one day, I did get it. “Hi how’s it going?” someone tweeted. “Great” I tweeted back. Hey, this was fun! It was like waving to a neighbor, only it was ok if she was three states away…or around the world!
Start a hospital twitter account. Oo, I have not done that yet…maybe that is my next great adventure… :)
Former Member , 3 years ago | Flag
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