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Social Media 101: Twitter, Part Two:

January 30, 2009
by Gwen Darling
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When to follow, when to run

In a previous post, I defined “Social Media,” and introduced you to “Twitter.” Judging from the number of new followers I’ve gained in the last week, either you took me up on my homework assignment and set up your own Twitter profile, or after all these years those missing college kegger photos finally surfaced – either way I’m happy to have the company!

So, you’ve set up your profile, uploaded a close-up, current, happy, approachable-looking photo, and browsed around Twitter, looking for suitable people to follow. But…what exactly constitutes “suitable?” The answer to that question will be different for everyone, but it definitely needs to be asked and answered at the outset of your Twitter experience, before you find yourself with dozens of unsuitable invisible friends in your “Following” column. Again, what you hope to gain from your Twitter time will be unique to you, but I’m happy to share my “Follow You or Run From You” criteria, to help you with yours:

@gwendarling: This is both my personal and consulting business account. More a listener than a talker, I’m there to network and learn. I follow personal friends and acquaintances to stay in touch, Internet Marketing colleagues I’ve met and those I’d like to meet to network and exchange ideas and information, fellow freelance writers to share ideas, tips, and contacts, and PR and advertising professionals to stay in the loop on what’s current. To stay abreast of current events I also follow national news sources like @andersoncooper and @nytimes, and just for fun, some entertaining or inspirational celebrities like @MCHammer and @lancearmstrong.

@healthcareitjob: This is the account that I manage for HealthcareITJobs.com. Here I am much more discriminating, less casual, and follow only Twitterers who are involved in the Healthcare industry in some way – doctors, nurses, medical students, writers, recruiters, and Healthcare IT professionals. I use this account to announce newly posted positions, to link to resources that I feel would be of value to my followers, and to recruit new Healthcare IT candidates and sponsors for the Web site and newsletter.

The success or failure of your Twitter experience is largely dictated by whose Tweets you choose to follow, so be extremely discerning. As a Twitter newbie, I followed everyone who followed me, because (go ahead and laugh) I didn’t want to hurt their feelings. In retrospect, this approach was ridiculous and completely defeated the purpose of Twitter, but it took a few days of sorting through huge amounts of mindless drivel before I realized that I didn’t have the time to waste and owed it to myself to be more selective. Since then, I’ve rejected or unfollowed others for being too yappy, too preachy, too darned happy, too self-involved, too crude, too obtuse, and finally, too interested in sharing irritating song lyrics that stick with you like a giant wad of bubblegum on your shoe. (“Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl.”)

The bottom line is, your time is incredibly valuable, so ask yourself: Am I learning/gaining/enjoying something as a result of following this person? Is this someone I’d like to converse with in real life? If the answer is No! UNFOLLOW. And remember…if you want others to learn, gain, or enjoy as a result of following you, give some thought to your Tweets, as well. And please - steer clear of Barry Manilow altogether.

As I previously suggested, it’s a good idea to get your feet wet by experimenting with a personal Twitter account before you become a professional Tweeter in your capacity as CIO. Hopefully that’s exactly what you’re doing! Next week, we’ll lay out a corporate hospital branding and recruiting Twitter strategy that will help you attract the candidates you are seeking, or alternatively, help you get the word out if you’re looking for a new Healthcare IT opportunity. In the meantime, here are some Healthcare industry Twitterers who I think are “getting it.” Take a look at their Tweets this week when you get a few moments, and let me know if you agree:

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Gwen Darling

CEO, HealthcareITCentral.com

Gwen Darling

@HealthcareITJob

www.HealthcareITCentral.com

Gwen Darling serves as an online HIT matchmaker, bringing together qualified Healthcare IT...