Assuming you understand how twitter works here are some suggestions for how to use twitter professionally. There are at least 3 different ways that public health professionals use twitter:
- as a source of public health news
- to connect with other public health practitioners or researchers
- to promote their own work or activities
@CroakeyNews – the handle for the Croakey health blog news team (recently migrated from the Crikey website to its own Croakey website)
@croakeyblog – the handle for health journalist Melissa Sweet who founded Croakey
@WePublicHealth – a rotation curation account for public health which is hosted by a different public health professional or researcher each week (tweeting as @WePublicHealth)
@ConversationUK – feed for the Conversation UK - lots of public health relevant news
@ConversationEDU – feed for the Conversation Aus - lots of public health relevant news
@juliamedew – The Age’s Health Editor
@cochranecollab – the twitter feed for the Cochrane Collaboration
@NHSNewsUK – news from @NHSChoices – has a "Behind the Headlines" section unpacking the evidence underlying health news
@equitylist – news on public health, equity and human development, SDOH
One problem can be the paywall behind which much news content now resides – news articles are often posted with links with a ($) to let you know it requires a payment or for you to be a subscriber.
So choose your preferred news sources – you can follow local TV and newspapers but of course you can also choose to follow international news sites. A couple that I like for Australian news are: @ABCthedrum and @crikey_news
Then choose your preferred journalists – most have twitter accounts (I follow Leigh Sales, Annabel Crabb, Mark Colvin, Patricia Karvelas)
@_PHAA_ - Public Health Association of Australia
@AHPA_AU - Australian Health Promotion Assocation
@SACOSS – SA Council of Social Service
@PHAIWA – Public Health Advocacy Institute of WA – one of Australia’s leading public health advocacy institutes
@PHE_uk – Official feed of Public Health England
@PublicHealth – American Public Health Association
@HealthConsumers – Health Consumers Alliance (HCA) of South Australia
@NACCHOAustralia – National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations twitter feed – good source of Indigenous news
@Doc_Samantha – Dr Samantha Thomas – gambling harm
@pash22 – Dr Ash Paul – UK Public Health physician – prolific retweeter of public health news (with a clinical skew)
@SimonChapman6 – Professor Simon Chapman – public health professor at Uni of Sydney – advocacte for tobacco control, windfarms, nocebos
@baumfran – Professor Fran Baum – Director Southgate Institute at Flinders – public health and equity
@JulieLeask – Associate Professor of Public Health at Sydney Uni – specialising in immunisation and public acceptance of vaccination
@Zockmelon – tweets by Kristy Schirmer founder and principal consultant at Zockmelon – provides social media training, strategy and app development
@Mozziebites – Dr Cameron Webb – medical entomolgist at Sydney Uni and Pathology West (NSW) – tweets about mosquito born diseases
@MaxCRoser – Researcher at Uni of Oxford tweets amazing data visualisations
@NCDFREE – Global social movement against NCDs
@newfangledmph – public health blog for new generation and new public health professionals (US based)
@_HealthyCommunicators – sharing info on health communications
@trishgreenhalgh – Professor Trish Greenhalgh is a UK based GP and Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences at Oxford with a very strong profile in evidence-based healthcare practice
@LRussellWolpe - Associate Professor Lesley Russell is a policy expert at the Menzies Centre for Health Policy at Sydney Uni also has US connections and often compares systems from a policy perspective
To initiate a conversation with someone either reply to one of their tweets or copy them into a tweet or retweet by using their @handle. You should also retweet good ideas that you see, as many people have their twitter account set to send them a notification if someone retweets their tweet, and you might well collect up some new followers by bringing yourself to their attention.
One excellent way to be a resource for others on twitter is to tweet from a conference or event as this is something that allows people who are not there to know what is going on. They may thank you for it by becoming a follower.
If you regularly tweet or retweet useful relevant news you will collect up followers surprisingly quickly. Use #hashtags to help people not following you to find your tweets but don’t overdo it.
Tip for twitter newbies: don’t start a tweet with a @handle – as the tweet will only go to people that both you and the person you mention are following. If you really need to start with the @handle put a full stop in front of it (like this: .@RebeccaTooher) or put their handle at the end of the tweet.
Should I follow back?
Some twitter etiquette suggests that if someone follows you, then you should follow them back. I like to check out their timeline to see whether they tweet frequently and if so whether their tweets are normally of interest to me. (I prefer to keep my twitter timeline largely free of pictures of people’s breakfast or random comments about TV shows etc.) But don’t be disappointed if you follow someone and they don’t follow you back. Very popular twitter accounts usually have far more followers than follows.
And while it is a great idea to follow your university lecturers you will probably find that many won’t follow you back, especially if you are an undergraduate student. You may not use your twitter account only for professional purposes and it could be difficult if you tweet about personal matters that you wouldn’t normally discuss with or disclose to your teacher. Once you graduate and are working your teachers are much more likely to follow you back as a public health colleague.
- tweeting a link to your newly published paper, or a workshop or event you are presenting at or hosting
- linking to blog post you have written and posted on your own website or LinkedIn page
- responding to someone elses tweet to highlight your own work