I’ve used Twitter for over 2 years now and much prefer it to Facebook. To me, Twitter is all about conversations, I participate in some but probably observe a lot more but before I go too much further I need to give you a health warning.
***TWITTER CAN BECOME ADDICTIVE***
So what do I use Twitter for? Well if I analyse and categorise the people I follow then they broadly fall into the following groups:
- Health matters including Chronic Kidney Disease.
- Sport including live updates from the football team I support.
- Friends and family.
- News – local, national and international.
- Technology including my interest in iPhoneography.
- Politics and politicians.
- Where I grew up.
- Businesses both local and national.
Once you understand just how much you can say and share in 140 characters you’ll appreciate that Twitter is a simple but effective method of communication. You can add links to a tweet (a single Twitter message) including photographs and videos and I use it to link to blogs on the GMKIN website so that they can be read by a wider audience. On Twitter your tweets can be read by the whole world which gives what you have to say enormous potential; indeed success on Twitter is measured by ‘reach’ (how far your messages go) rather than the number of followers you have. It is also possible to share private, direct messages with those people you follow as long as they’re following you too.
So what are the reasons for using Twitter?
- Simple to use.
- The 140 character limit forces you to think about what you’re saying.
- News breaks very quickly on Twitter. For example, the sad death of Nelson Mandela was reported on Twitter before it was reported on the mainsream news outlets such as TV and radio.
- You can follow and have conversations with people who share your interests. Equally and importantly, you can follow and learn from people who hold different views. I follow and communicate with politicians from several political parties and find it often gives me a different perspective on current issues. Get political!
- Quick answers! Stephen Fry, a great advocate for Twitter, famously posted in 2009 that he was stuck in a lift and within minutes he was inundated with advice on how to escape and tips on passing the time.
- Learn from and influence others. I regularly have Twitter conversations with healthcare professionals, journalists and politicians.
- Be inspired by others. I’ve heard the word ‘serendipity’ used when describing the benefits of Twitter and I regularly come across information, advice, hints and tips that broaden my knowledge and inspire me to try new experiences.
- Build new relationships. I spent part of New Year’s Eve exchanging tweets with someone in West Wales who is preparing for a kidney and pancreas transplant, the kidney being donated by their partner.
- Businesses, and I predict healthcare organisations will join them in the coming years, increasingly use Twitter to engage directly with their customers.
I hope this short blog has inspired some of you to try Twitter and if you would like help and advice on setting up or using Twitter then please feel free to post any questions in the comments below. If you’re looking for some people to follow in relation to GMKIN or kidney disease then try @cristinavas, @bcegerton, @GMKINet, @CitzSci, @finnigr, @Giveakidney, @livelifelisa, @NKF_UK, @MRITransplant, @tfc5, @The_BKPA, @PKDCharity