New Connections Tweetcamp

I will be in Princeton, New Jersey tomorrow for a presentation at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as part of its New Connections program for junior researchers. We will start with a social media overview, but then will conclude with a 45-minute focused session on Twitter. The goal is to give these researchers a taste of how they can practically use Twitter and other social media tools to be more effective in their work.

Here are the slides for second half of my Friday morning presentation:

I hope you will join me in showing the speed, reach and power of Twitter as we conduct a mini-Twitter chat. Hopefully many of the researchers will have created Twitter accounts in advance of the session, and will be able to participate directly.

Our #TweetcampRWJF chat will start at 9:45 a.m. ET on Friday. I have created a couple of questions that are included in the last slide of my presentation above, and I’m asking the participants to tweet their own questions, too.

So if you have some time to share your experience with some younger and mid-career researchers, I hope you’ll join us. Or if you can tweet some pearls of wisdom between now and then, we would appreciate that, too.

Please tweet your introduction and answers to the following, using the #TweetcampRWJF hashtag:

  • Introduce yourself and give your location (or where you work) – City, State (Province), Country
  • Q1: What is the most important benefit you have experienced in Twitter?
  • Q2: What questions do you have about using Twitter in health care or research?

During and after the scheduled chat, I hope you will also engage in dialog with the students as they tweet their questions.

Upgrade to WordPress 3.4 – Embedding Tweets

I just got the notice that there is a new version of WordPress available, so I did the automatic upgrade and checked out some of the new features. One I think is kind of neat is that you can embed a Tweet within a post just by pasting in the URL, like this:




If everything works as it should, you’ll see the tweet about our new Mayo Clinic iPhone/iPad app being featured in the Apple WWDC keynote embedded below:

So people reading your blog can interact with the tweet directly. It’s much better than taking a screen shot of the tweet and embedding the image.

Cool, huh?


Teachers Tweeting for Support and Inspiration

Today’s Washington Post has a nice story about how teachers are using Twitter to connect with each other and get just-in-time training. Here’s an excerpt:

After her first year teaching history in a public high school in the District, Jamie Josephson was exhausted and plagued by self-doubt. Teaching had been more grueling than she ever expected. Law school began to sound appealing.

Then she stumbled onto Twitter. In the vast social network on the Web, she discovered a community of mentors offering inspiration, commiseration and classroom-tested lesson plans.

“Twitter essentially prepared me to go into my second year and not give up,” said Josephson, now in her third year at Woodrow Wilson High in Northwest Washington. “I never would have imagined that it would have been the place to find support.”

Josephson (known to fellow tweeters by her handle, @dontworryteach) is one of a small but growing number of teachers who are delving into the world of hashtags and retweets, using Twitter to improve their craft by reaching beyond the boundaries of their schools to connect with colleagues across the country and around the world.

The story goes on to tell about a now twice-weekly Twitter chat for teachers, #edchat, and the proliferation of chats around various subjects or specialties, including:

Tell teachers you know about these opportunities to get practical help and support through Twitter. And if they need encouragement or training, we’ve got a whole Twitter curriculum here on SMUG, including Twitter 115: 5 Benefits of Twitter Chats.



When You Absolutely, Positively Need to Reach Someone Quickly

In the last week, I’ve needed to get in touch with a few people via email about a social media project. For a few of them, I was missing email addresses so needed to contact the participants first by some other means to ask them to send their email addresses.

For Contact #1, I knew we were connected on LinkedIn, so I decided to send him a message through that service on Friday, Dec. 30.

For the next three, I checked first to see whether they were following me on Twitter, and sent them direct tweets instead.

Finally, yesterday, after having not heard from #1, I sent a direct tweet.

Here is the table of my results:

I realize this isn’t a large enough sample to be statistically meaningful. I also realize that my LinkedIn message was sent on a Friday before a holiday weekend, so it probably wasn’t the fairest test. But I wasn’t exactly fair to Twitter, either. For participants 2-4, I sent the tweets in the mid-to-late evening, possibly after some had gone to bed (they were all an hour ahead of me in the Eastern time zone). Number 3 responded at 4 a.m. I sent a follow-up to Number 4 the next afternoon, and this time the response was less than 2 hours.

Still, these results do fit with what I perceive as my experience in the relative responsiveness of Twitter vs. LinkedIn.

I think it relates to the way most people interact with the platforms. I don’t have statistics to support this (if you have some, please put them in the comments), but it seems people tend to use LinkedIn through its Web site. When you send someone a message in LinkedIn, therefore, people see it when they visit the site, or possibly through an email notification.

On Twitter, people can get notifications of new messages in those ways, but also tend to use smart phone clients or get text message alerts. This makes it much more likely they will get the notice quickly, wherever they are.

I’m not hacking on LinkedIn; it obviously has capabilities Twitter doesn’t, and you need to use different tools depending on what you want to accomplish. For soliciting and organizing professional recommendations, for instance, LinkedIn is clearly superior.

I have the LinkedIn iPhone app (although I haven’t used it much) and it probably offers push notifications as the Twitter app does (again, I welcome confirmation in the comments). My point isn’t that people couldn’t respond as quickly on LinkedIn as they do on Twitter, it’s just that in my experience they don’t.

How about you?

When you need to reach someone quickly, and if you don’t have the old-school contact information such as email or cell phone (and yes, having grown up with a single land line and snail mail, I realize the irony of calling email and cell phone “old school”), what do you find is the best social platform to use?

How NOT to Handle Social Media Critics

The governor of Kansas has realized (although belatedly) that his staff mishandled the case of a teen constituent and her disrespectful tweet.

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — When a high school senior tweeted that Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback “sucked,” among other invectives, reaction at the state Capitol led her principal to demand an apology. Instead, it was the Republican governor offering a mea culpa Monday, forced to admit to a self-described overreaction by his staff that subjected him to ridicule for efforts to police a teenager’s Internet musings.

A few basic lessons and observations I take from this story:

As Stephen Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind.” In this case the gubernatorial (one of the great words in U.S. English) staffers saw the offending tweet and started the chain of events that led to this outcome without really thinking ahead to what they wanted to accomplish. They contacted the Youth in Government program director, who contacted the principal, and the confrontation ensued. What was the best possible outcome the staffers hoped to achieve? Even if everything turned out exactly “right,” what did they think they would get? I doubt they took time to consider this.

Most social media conversations are more social than media. When Emma Sullivan tweeted her comment, she was mainly talking with friends. It didn’t seem she meant it as a profound political statement. This is the kind of conversation that has happened about politicians since the days of the Roman Senate. When comments are posted online, they obviously can be found by anyone. But especially in Twitter, where the half-life of a tweet is about 30 minutes, most are lost to the ether, just as the spoken word was for previous millennia. That’s why…

Sometimes the best response is no response. The original tweet from Emma Sullivan went to her 65 (or so) followers. A lot of them probably missed it. As of this writing she has 12,700 followers, and there have been more than 800 online stories.

Stick to correcting factual errors. Ms. Sullivan had expressed an opinion about Gov. Brownback that is not subject to verification. If she had made a statement that was clearly factually inaccurate (as opposed to being her personal opinion), his staff may have had a basis for requesting a retraction. Again, they would need to decide if the end they were trying to achieve was worthwhile, but at least it would not have been a guaranteed loser.

Social media can create the political equivalent of fibromyalgia. To be successful in politics, candidates need to develop what is often called a “thick skin.” They can’t get too upset at criticism. Having just spent three days watching way more TV than I would have preferred, because of a nasty bout of intestinal flu, I’ve learned more about fibromyalgia through seemingly endless direct-to-consumer ads. According to my friends at, fibromyalgia seems to have something to do with increased sensitivity of the brain to pain signals. It seems the increased listening ability afforded by social media also can make politicians (or companies) hypersensitive to the “pain” of criticism.

It’s good to listen through social media, and these tools give unprecedented ability to hear what constituents or customers have to say. Listening is a great place to start in your involvement, but the power of the tools makes it all the more important to consider carefully when you should be informed by what you hear, and when and how it is advisable to respond.