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Getting Started with #TwitteRx: A Guide to navigating Professional Social Media
by Gabrielle Pierce, PharmD, MBA; PGY1 Specialty Pharmacy Resident; University of Illinois at Chicago
In a time of remote work and social distancing, professional networking has changed drastically. No longer is it the norm to gather for crowded conferences and shake hands with new acquaintances at roundtable sessions. Many pharmacists, pharmacy students, and residents have chosen to connect virtually through professional social media accounts, particularly Twitter. This popular platform allows for sharing advice, publications, words of encouragement, and anecdotes among pharmacists and students across the nation. Below are some tips for getting started and how to make the most out of your #TwitteRx (the chosen trending hashtag for all things pharmacy) experience.
First, there are several things to consider when creating your professional social media account. It is best to use your full name so that it is easy for others to recognize you from your publications and presentations. Be sure to choose a username that is easy to share with others; you get bonus points if you are clever enough to develop a pharmacy-related pun to incorporate. Also, use a profile photo that clearly shows your face. This does not need to be a professional headshot, just a close-up photo that is recognizable as you! These pieces serve as the backbone of your personal brand.
Next, the challenge becomes deciding who you would like to connect with or “follow.” A good place to start is following colleagues at your institution or former pharmacy school classmates who may be active on Twitter. Following professional organizations such as ICHP (@ICHPnet), ASHP (@ASHPOfficial), and others will also allow you to stay up to speed with upcoming events and connect with peers. Another great way to find fellow pharmacists is to use the search function and type in the hashtag commonly used by the pharmacy Twitter community, #TwitteRx. This should bring up individuals who have this hashtag in their profile and recent tweets shared on the platform. I would also encourage you to follow other healthcare professionals; social media is a great way to build relationships and share ideas with trainees and practitioners in all aspects and specialties of healthcare. Building a network comprised of individuals at every level of training - from first-year students to attending clinicians at major health systems, is an excellent way to build a balanced feed with many perspectives.
As a bonus tip, several other hashtags can help identify individuals and content that may be of interest based on your scope. Often, #PharmRes is used as a hashtag for tweets about pharmacy residency training, recruiting, or resident development. #PharmEd is commonly used among pharmacy educators to share ideas related to academia. These hashtags allow users to tailor their feed based on interest areas.
Sharing relevant and engaging content is another aspect of social media that often can be difficult, but there are several easy ways to develop ideas. If you learn something new throughout your day – share it! You may see people sharing “one thing I learned today” and using the hashtag #OTILT to educate followers. Posting clinical pearls learned via real-world experience is invaluable and encourages ad hoc continuing education throughout the platform. Similarly, if you read a journal article that you find interesting, share a link to the article with your thoughts and takeaways. In this case, it is even better to tag the social media accounts of any of the authors in your post. Do not be afraid to retweet (which is Twitter’s version of sharing another person’s post) any content you find interesting and include your thoughts. Engagement with others is an effective strategy for building your social media network. Summarizing or organizing your ideas into a thread (i.e., multi-tweet post) or, even better, creating an infographic (i.e., downloadable visual file) is an excellent way of teaching others and expanding your influence.
Whether virtual or in-person, conferences or summits provide valuable opportunities to show off your savvy social media and networking skills. Most conferences will have a hashtag that can link users and content related to the event. Sharing photos, weblinks, and impressions about the presentations and sessions that you attend is a great way to interface with others who may be attending the same event as well as provide insight for those unable to attend.
Finally, be sure that you are using Twitter in a way that allows you to build connections with others. A great way to do this is through peer recognition and encouragement. If a colleague posts about a clinical success story, academic accomplishment, or even just a fun birthday, respond and offer positive words of congratulations. If you come across an article or presentation given by someone you have followed on Twitter, post about it and acknowledge their excellent work. This is a great way to pay it forward and offer support to others in the profession. Often, pharmacists will crowdsource for input related to clinical conundrums, professional development, or personal struggles. It is also a great space for sharing photos of your favorite pets or future vacation spots to break up the lulls in the day. If you find yourself overwhelmed by Twitter or may be hesitant to take the plunge, you can always “like” the posts of other pharmacists as an initial step to becoming more comfortable with the platform; this is a great way to start engaging with others if you are not yet ready to start posting any content yourself.
Though social media may not be the traditional professional networking method, many meaningful relationships can be built through its use. Many pharmacists use social media to share job openings at their institutions, volunteer experiences in their communities, new clinical literature, and opportunities for collaborative projects. Don’t miss out on some of these opportunities by turning your back on social media. Through positive engagement and a willingness to learn from others, #TwitteRx can be a great way to improve your practice as a pharmacist and build your network from the comfort of your own home.
Dixon D, Reed B. To tweet or not to tweet? A primer on social media for pharmacists. J Am Coll Clin Pharm. May 2019. Doi: 10.1002/jac5.1120.