A beginner’s guide to Tweetchats

Paul Tunnah, CEO of pharmaphorum and an experienced Tweetchat moderator, explains what’s great about Tweetchats, and how to join in.

What is a Tweetchat?

• Think of a Tweetchat as a conference call on Twitter, where everyone meets at a specific date and time to discuss a defined topic using tweets, typically for a one-hour period.

• There will be a moderator, who will start by opening the Tweetchat and laying down the ground rules, before introducing a number of specific topics, or questions, during the Tweetchat (via their tweets) to act as focus points for discussion.

What’s so good about Tweetchats?

If you are already on Twitter, you will probably appreciate how useful it is as a way of gathering information on your areas of interest and ‘following’ interesting people. Once you engage actively, you can make two-way connections with people with shared interests, and exchange ideas. Tweetchats simply concentrate the power of Twitter: they help bring people together all at once, and generate new connections and talking points.

If you’re not already on Twitter, sign up now and get started!

How do I register a Twitter account?

Go to https://twitter.com/signup and complete the form to activate your Twitter account. Once you have a Twitter account you can seek out people and subjects which interest you, and find Tweetchats on these subjects. You can choose to simply ‘listen in’ to the Tweetchats or, of course, you can take part.

I’m interested in healthcare issues and the pharmaceutical industry – how do I find Tweetchats I might be interested in?

A really useful website for helping you find the most interesting subjects trending on Twitter is Symplur.com – it has a special page dedicated to healthcare hashtags. This lists special one-off Tweetchats, as well as the regular meetings.

Currently the most popular healthcare Tweetchat is the #hcsm tweetchat. This is the Healthcare Communications & Social Media community’s weekly Twitter conversation. This covers a variety of topics about communications in healthcare, including the use of social media. #hcsm was created in January 2009 and was the first regular hashtag chat related to healthcare.

A good example of an interesting one-off healthcare/pharma-related Tweetchat was #ChatAfib, held in September 2013. This was all about the heart condition atrial fibrillation, was hosted by Boehringer Ingelheim, and was open to anyone with an interest in the subject. Here is an analysis of #ChatAfib by Len Starnes on Slideshare.net

How do I follow a Tweetchat?

• Every Tweetchat has a specific ‘hashtag’ that must be used for Tweets relevant to that Tweetchat, which is normally selected as being appropriate for that topic, e.g. #hcsm forTweetchats about healthcare social media, or #chatafib for a Tweetchat relating to atrial fibrillation.

• To follow a Tweetchat you therefore need to follow the live stream of all Tweets that are tagged with that hashtag, which can be done through various programs, including:

o Twitter.com: Log into your account and type the hashtag into the search box at the top left, before clicking on the magnifying glass. On the next screen, select ‘All’ at the top of the middle panel and keep refreshing for new tweets.

o Tweetdeck.com: Log into your account, then click on the magnifying glass in the left hand menu to open the search box, enter your hashtag and press enter. Click ‘Add Column’ at the bottom to create a new column for all tweets with that hashtag, which automatically updates.

o Twitterfall.com: Log in with your Twitter account (authorise the app when it asks), before entering the hashtag in the box on the left hand side under ‘All Searches’ and clicking on the ‘Add’ button. Tweets with that hashtag will now start appearing automatically in the centre panel.

How do I comment during a Tweetchat?

• You can get actively involved by sending a new Tweet of your own, replying to someone else’s Tweet or simply reTweeting someone else’s Tweet. The key thing to remember is that your Tweet must include the hashtag for others to see it, so always double check this!

What happens at the end of a Tweetchat?

• The moderator will announce the close of the Tweetchat, but you can, of course, keep chatting with interested contributors if you wish to do so.


About the author:

Paul Tunnah is CEO & Founder of pharmaphorum media, which connects thought leaders and ideas across healthcare to support the pharmaceutical industry in delivering innovative medical solutions. It combines industry-leading strategic and tactical media services with the globally recognised news, information and insight portal pharmaphorum.com, working with pharmaceutical companies, service providers and broader healthcare organisations to help communicate their thought leadership and connect them with relevant stakeholders.

For queries he can be reached through the site contact form or on Twitter @pharmaphorum.

Have your say: Are you ready for the world of Tweetchats?