As a result of watching this tutorial, the participant should be better able to:
✔ Identify the benefits and risks associated with using Twitter alongside clinical practice ✔ Learn how to set up and optimize your Twitter profile and how to keep up with the latest advances through Twitter ✔ Utilize a range of techniques to develop and share engaging content on Twitter ✔ Organize your time to fit Twitter into a busy schedule and maximise productivity ✔ Become aware of how Twitter can be used at conferences ✔ Recognize how patients are using social media and how to interact with them responsibly
Hello everyone, welcome. I’m Dr Naveen Pemmaraju, Associate Professor of Leukemia at MD Anderson in Houston, Texas, and I’d love to welcome all of you to this first ever VJHemOnc social media tutorial for healthcare professionals. Now, this is the first series of modules that’s really concentrating on the social media platform of Twitter for healthcare providers who are prospective and recent Twitter adopters, and for folks out there who are either occasional users, starting to be beginner users who want to get to that next level with using Twitter.
Now, I think it’s important why. You have so many demands on your time. Why another thing? Is this a waste of my time? I can think of five good reasons why a health care provider would want to get on social media right now. Number one, Twitter has really become the most widely adopted, widely used platform of social media for all healthcare professionals. Number two, especially for those out there in academics, it allows you to instantly publish and share your data and research quickly in real time to those who need it the most, particularly those of you who are doing rare tumor types. Number three, it allows you to consume information in a filtered way, following those key opinion leaders, thought leaders, and other folks in your field who you want to, and your whole feed will populate nicely with their thoughts straight from them to you. Yet a fourth reason is now that we’ve become a global community in oncology, hematology, it allows you to follow colleagues internationally in real time across time zone barriers and even across language barriers in many cases. And then finally, it allows all of us, each of us, to exchange views, debate, and discussion during medical conferences. The bigger ones, such as ASH, ASCO, EHA, and others. And it also allows us to exchange ideas within the meetings to cause what’s called a meeting within the meetings, and it extends the dialogue even after these conferences are completed.
So the scope of this tutorial series, what I’m planning for you is five modules, smaller modules, 10 minutes or less, and we’re going to talk about how Twitter works, how it can work for you, and how you can use it to maximize your academic and professional careers. Through this series, I want you to be able to create and actually improve your Twitter bio profile, and I’ll show you some examples from my own account and others in the field. I want you to try to develop techniques with me about how to tweet effectively, how to manage and maintain your account, particularly with privacy being one of our utmost concerns, particularly for our colleagues and patients, and then how to get the most out of Twitter during medical conferences, which in and of itself is an important topic. So I hope you find these short tutorials to be useful for your professional development and that you’ll soon find that Twitter can be another weapon in your arsenal for your academic and professional development.
Now, don’t just hear from me, I’ve got two of my trusted colleagues here that can really speak a little bit more about the use of the platform, and I’d like to introduce Doctors Graham Collins and Aaron Gerds, my colleagues, to go over their Twitter journeys and to tell us really what they think about the medium, and what they think their future directions are. Gentlemen, welcome. Thank you for being here.
Aaron Gerds: Thanks a lot.
It’s a pleasure. Thank you.
This is us clinical investigators putting down our hat for just a moment, and I want you to put on your hat as a social media guru, as a disseminator of information on Twitter, I’m going to ask each of you a series of questions and reflections, and really, Aaron, I want to start with you, and Graham I’ll follow. I want you to take us through, you’ve been on social media along with me for a number of years, what’s been your impressions of your Twitter journey, and specifically, how has it helped you professionally? Aaron, and then Graham.
Aaron Gerds: Yeah. Thank you, Naveen. It’s a pleasure to be here speaking with all of you, of course, but my Twitter journey, it’s a roundabout story. Our former institute chair really thought Twitter was the way of the future and he proved to be ahead of his time, for sure. So he got up there, it’s our staff meeting and said, “Oh, you need to do this. You need to get on. You have to start tweeting and all these things.”
And I was like, “Meh, it’s not for me. It’s for the young kids.” So it turns out about six to eight months later, I was at ASH, the annual American Society of Hematology meeting, sitting next to you, Naveen, and Laura Michaels, and you guys were tweeting away. And I was like, “Well, gee, if these guys think it’s important, maybe I should get on board.” And I was pretty much hooked from the beginning because as I’m sitting there listening to an abstract that was being given, I knew I was missing out on a lot of other things to the meeting, and here’s this live stream I can hold in my hand with my phone, that’s given me the rest of the meeting that I was attending on my screen.
And soon after joining and taking in the information, I realised that once I got out there and started creating my own content, it reached far many more people than anything else I’ve ever done before. Certainly, I could publish a review paper in whatever journal, Us Weekly, People Magazine, and maybe five, ten people might download it and read it. I put it on Twitter and I almost instantly have 1,000 or 2,000 people looking at it. So really it’s a way to get your message out there, especially if you’re keen on keeping it very brief and to the point.
Naveen Pemmaraju: Very nice. Graham I’d love to hear from you. So over in the UK, what’s been your own personal Twitter journey, and what has it helped you with professionally thus far?
Graham Collins: Yeah, well, I mean interesting actually to hear Aaron speak because similar in a way. I remember senior clinical trialist in the UK, not particularly my institution, but I remember him saying Twitter, it’s good, potentially it could be used to recruit patients to trials. That was actually the initial hook. So I thought, “Okay, we’re always looking to advertise our trials, so I might give it a go.”
And what I thought I would do is just tweet something professional, based mainly on just doing PubMed search for lymphoma and seeing what comes up, and I’d just do one a day. And I think the thing that I decided to do early on, which is what I’m most pleased that I made the decision to do was not just tweet the title of a paper, but actually to try and make some comment on it, and I think that people following my tweets, the feedback I’ve had is that they found the distilled comments on it, a bit of opinion, maybe, as to how good that data looks or what the holes might be, that they found it reasonably useful. And what I realised is that the more I tweeted, the more followers I got, and it does turn into a bit of a drug, I find. That little bell, when you get those likes it, I think, releases a little bit of dopamine in your brain and you just want to get more and more. So it is quite addictive.
Naveen Pemmaraju: Really great reflections, and as you know, I share a lot of the similar reflections and thoughts you’ve had.
So thanks again, everyone for joining me for this exciting series of tutorials. Again, to recap, I think the most important thing to explain and express to you is that Twitter and using social media has really enhanced my own professional career and academic development, and I hope that by joining, you’ll be able to see that.
Section 2: Your Twitter profile
Naveen Pemmaraju: I wanted to ask about the concept of building the best version of yourself on the Twitter profile. What do you think makes a good Twitter profile? What do you keep in there? And do you change it over time? Which you’re perfectly allowed to do. Graham?
Graham Collins: So yes and no in terms of changing over time. So what I try and put in my profile is what is stuff that is relevant to what I’m going to tweet on. So you can, of course, do anything, but I’m a reasonably strictly professional-only tweeter. So in my profile, it’s about my professional roles, but they of course do change. Sometimes you’re the chair of a committee, sometimes you’re not. So it is important to keep it up to date. The other thing is a small point maybe, but changing the photo also is quite refreshing, and certainly I find when I’m following people, if they’ve got a new photo, it almost feels like they’re remaking themselves almost, and it actually engages me a little bit more. So I think changing your photo, keeping it up to date, but keeping it relevant to what you’re going to tweet on is the bits I would focus on.
Naveen Pemmaraju: Aaron, do you have any thoughts on this?
Aaron Gerds: So having a brand is important. This is about building your brand, and I feel like I’m a little off brand today without the tie.
Naveen Pemmaraju: We’ll edit that in. Don’t worry.
Aaron Gerds: We can always edit that in later. But you do. It’s you kind of think a little bit about that as like, okay, well what’s my brand? What do I want to be known for? When people say Naveen Pemmaraju, what’s the first thing that comes to mind, kind of thing? And so, for me, it’s about taking care of patients with MPNs. It’s about some of the medical editing that I do. It’s about leading our cooperative group trials at our center. And that all kind of feeds into the one pool and the one brand that I have in my social media presence.
Naveen Pemmaraju: Wow. Thank you both so much for your thoughts and comments on creating a Twitter profile.
Aaron Gerds: So I think there’s a lot of different ways to go about this, of course. I think really before you go out and start tweeting a lot or trying to follow a lot of information, you want to figure out, who’s my audience and who do I want to listen to? What information do I want to get out of Twitter? Because you can follow anything. You can follow 90s grunge bands, you can follow myeloproliferative neoplasms, you can follow political. You can really hone into whatever categories you want using who you follow, creating lists, and following hashtags. So first you want to say, “Well, this is what I want to get out of Twitter.”
So when I sat down and started organizing my Twitter feed that I was going to follow, there are some key things that were really important to me that I made sure I would want to follow. One, being at the meetings, I wanted to follow the meeting hashtags. For example, the most immediate ASH annual meeting was #ASH20. So that was the way you could follow tweets related to the meeting. We follow myeloproliferative neoplasms, the disease group, so there’s a #MPNSM, SM stands for social media. So I added that hashtag into my feed that I would follow. We have this large grant for cooperative group trials called the LAPS grant, I’m the PI for that, so following news coming out of the cooperative groups is really important to me. So I added that in there, as well as some local things like our charity bike ride, Vale Assano, so I added that hashtag in there. So I have a list, different lists and different hashtags that I follow.
So you can put anything in those lists. You can put a different people who you may want to follow into a particular group. For example, all the people in my program, in the leukaemia and myeloid disorders program at my cancer centre, we all have a list where we’re all on the list, so all of our tweets are unified as one voice. So you can make lists like that or add a bunch of hashtags or combinations of peoples and hashtags into a list to follow. I think that’s a really powerful tool.
Naveen Pemmaraju: A hashtag of course, as Aaron just mentioned, is a category or a classification, it can either be something made up or something that already exists, and then it’s archived. You can click back on it later on. So for example, in my own Twitter bio, as you both know, I have some of these hot word hashtags there already. So #MPNSM, #BPDCN. So if you’re looking up, you can actually click right there, or me myself on a Sunday evening, go back and look. So all of these are archived, they’re there. Pretty amazing.
Graham, as you think about what Aaron mentioned here, take us through how you organize. Graham?
Graham Collins: I mean, first of all, I’m learning a lot on this call. I don’t really have much of an organized system when I do Twitter. I really just tweet, and absolutely, I do use… So I’m lymphoma doctor and I do use the hashtag L-Y-M-S-M, so LYMSM, which is the lymphoma social media. And I do find that helpful, so I can sometimes search for that hashtag and I do. I often use it to actually search my own tweets, because as I say, I often do use them as notes, so it’s quite helpful to actually find what I’ve tweeted and go back and get the essentials of the T-cell lymphoma presentation or the Hodgkin’s presentation. That’s probably about it as far as I’m organized, so I really want to try some of these lists and things. That sounds great.
Naveen Pemmaraju: And is there such a thing as following too many people? I mean I guess that’s a good point. What do you think about that?
Aaron Gerds: I think in terms of following too many people, it just depends on how much information you can handle. So you can follow as many people as you’d like, but if you have the filter set up, and the lists, and things to sort through all that deluge of information, then I think the more, the merrier. I think it’s also a good Twitter policy that if people follow you, follow them back. I think it’s good to reciprocate that. And so that somewhat limits the number of people I can follow because I can only handle so much information.
That’s the beauty of Twitter, right? You can do it your own way. However you want to organize it, there’s a way to do it and to really make it customizable.
Section 3: Tweeting effectively
Naveen Pemmaraju: So Graham, walk me through what makes a great professional tweet. What is your ideal tweet that you’re trying to convey? What have you seen get the most likes and retweets?
Graham Collins: Yeah. It’s, it’s often quite unexpected actually, I find, the popular tweets. However, what am I trying to do with, particularly when I’m tweeting on a presentation or a paper or something, I always acknowledge the person, first of all, whose work it is. I think that’s obviously real important. Then I try to actually do proper bullet points, because it just looks a bit neater, I find. So I do bullet points, a little bit on patient characteristics, if I can, obviously you’ve got to keep these things really short, but bit on patient characteristics, bit on what the methods were, bit on the results.
And then I try and save a sentence for comment, whether it’s, very interesting drug, or this isn’t going anywhere. I try not to be rude. You don’t want to… I might’ve missed something. So you don’t want to be rude to people, but also it’s good to, I think give people a heads up as to what this data is looking like. Sometimes I’ll suggest something that needs to be done. For example, “This really needs a randomized trial.” Or something like that.
I try to get it on one tweet. The way Twitter works is you can just add tweets, and make a thread. But I think the tweets I’m most proud of do condense it all into one. So that people just could look at it, spend 30 seconds and have got the information. And then I try to add a few images, whether that’d be a graph, Kaplan-Meier, or Blood now does these great pictorial abstracts, which you can attach. Well sometimes, and if you’ve got the characters for it, but it does use them up, sometimes the link to the paper is helpful. Because then if somebody wants more information, they just click on that.
Aaron Gerds: I’d like to echo some of the comments that Graham made about kind of fitting that all into a tweet. I definitely find that the best tweets have a lot of different things going on in them in terms of your including other people, so other people’s handles when you’re making comments. Certainly if you’re commenting on a paper, putting the authors handles in there if you can. Putting hashtags for those diseases are really helpful because people may be following the hashtags. And then the media is so important too. We’re a very visual type. I’m a very visual person, and many people are, and so a picture really will grab your attention in a feed of just words.
And then lastly, a link, something to interact with because if you start really getting into Twitter and looking at your Twitter statistics, you get kind of more out of when a person sees your tweet and interacts with it versus just looking at it. So the more interactive you make your tweets, even with places to click or images to blow up and see in a larger frame, you kind of get more out of your Twitter feed that way.
But really at the end of the day, what the most important thing about the tweet is what’s in it. What are the words? What is it telling you? And you want to catch people’s interests. You want to be a little provocative if you can, or at least interesting. And I think no matter all these other frills and bows and flowers you put on it, that at the end of the day is the most important part of the tweet, is what it actually says and making sure it catches people’s attention.
Naveen Pemmaraju: Just valuable information. Graham, building on that, so what about relevance and maintaining that, after all Twitter is a medium for the three of us as academics to get not only our word out there, but to brand ourselves, to promote our work, our group’s work, our lab’s work. I want you to expound on that a little bit. How do you keep yourself relevant, but still stay authentic to yourself? Graham?
Graham Collins: So I think Aaron, you hit the nail right on the head when you say you need to sort of decide what you’re trying to get out there. And I think for me, it’s probably two things. One is the clinical trials work that we do. And for that, it’s all about keeping up-to-date, tweeting recent results that are relevant to research that I’m interested in, that we’re interested in as a unit, but also education. So I helped run a lymphoma management course that happens every year. So I’m really keen to sort of develop tweets that are relevant to trainees, and so that almost it’s like they can come to the course, but they follow me and other members of the faculty to get that sort of continuing education that’s relevant to trainees in their improvement. In fact, I had this thing hashtag lymphoma heroes. So if you want to look it up. So Dennis Burkett and all these sorts of the great and the good of lymphoma medicine. And that went down a storm and I had a massive upstroke and followers after that. And it’s quite hard then to think actually, what can I do next? I think I did one on the history of chemotherapy after that. But so yeah, I guess it’s been a mixture of keeping up-to-date, but also just being interesting and relevant.
Naveen Pemmaraju: Aaron, any thoughts hearing that? That’s great.
Aaron Gerds: Yeah. I think interesting is the most critical piece of all that, and people love the historical stuff. David Steensma puts out a lot of tutorials that people, hematology related tutorials that are really cherished and people like. I think a lot of people also too, to keep it interesting, add personal things. And some people don’t put anything personal on Twitter, but to be honest, sometimes my best tweets have been more personal stuff than anything medical that I’ve ever done. In fact, my most engaged or what have you, statistically, a tweet was a picture from a baseball game that myself and one of my colleagues went to. And we took a picture and we put it up there on Twitter, just like, “Hey, yeah, we’re at the baseball game.” It was obviously pre-pandemic a few years ago, and back when the Indians were decent. And it was picked up by Major League baseball and it went wild, and so you never know. I think I got a huge uptick of followers after that just by taking a picture at a baseball game. So if you keep your feed a little bit personal too, you’re not just a robot scouring PubMed, spitting out what’s the latest and greatest, but if you’re also a person behind it, I think it also makes it much more interesting.
Section 4: Managing your Twitter account
Naveen Pemmaraju: One of the most commonly asked questions I get about using Twitter is when do you have time for that? I have three or four techniques to share with you. One is I do look at Twitter early in the morning, so either at the coffee line or before work starts, to get an idea and a sense of what are the major developments going on. So that’s news aggregation. Many of you do that already, but on Twitter I’m able to have all of my news sources and the thoughts and opinions of key opinion leaders in my field all on one screen. So I think that’s the first way I use it.
The second way is if I have a professional development accolade, a paper that’s published, that’s something that I definitely mark, and then at the end of the day, I will tweet out myself. So that’s generation of original content. Still a third way, either in the middle of the day at a lunch hour, or a coffee break, or at the end of the day, once work is done, there are oftentimes nice articles or thoughts from other colleagues across the world, and I will retweet those that resonate with me. And then still finally, I will scroll again one last time at the end of the day, again more for news aggregation, and this time I usually bookmark.
So you got all this information coming at you. Some of our colleagues, both older and younger, actually. Age does not matter, maybe it’s ECOG performance status for Twitter, but some people think, “Wow, what a waste of time. I don’t have time for that. It’s just one more thing. It’s like email.” What say both of you, Aaron, and then Graham, I want to know where do you fit in Twitter into your time? How do you manage it? There’s got to be some rule you follow, no?
Aaron Gerds: Yeah, that’s a tough one. And actually it’s a moving target for me. So the way I was doing it up until recently was on my computer screen at work, I’d have whatever I’m doing at the time, and then on a separate screen, basically would be my Twitter feed. So I could switch back and forth. If I read an interesting paper, I could immediately go over and tweet about it, or I had this thought pop into my head, I can go over and tweet about it.
You’ve got to be a little bit flexible as things evolve, as things change, in order to keep it up. But I used to do it only at work, really, and mix it then. But now I find that I’m doing more Twitter at night, before I go to bed, I’ll scroll through things, and do it more on the fly outside of work now, than I was doing at work before.
Naveen Pemmaraju: Nice. Graham, what about you? When’s your favourite time to use it and which device?
Graham Collins: Yeah, so I’m more of an iPhone tweeter, I have to say, apart from when I’m at congresses. And when I’m not in a Congress, I’m not the most disciplined person in terms of when I do Twitter, sometimes it is just before I go to bed, I don’t particularly recommend that, it’s probably good to have a screen-free time with the lights off, but actually it’s very different from email.
Email demands an answer very quickly, and we all are used to our inbox is being deluged, and it is, I think more stressful, actually our email inbox. Twitter, you really can pick and choose, no one really needs an answer. You can engage with who you want to engage with. And also you can block who you want to block, and not in a nasty way, but there are some people I’ve followed where their tweets just haven’t really been what I was expecting. Maybe they were very political, and I don’t necessarily want to hear that all the time. So, I block them just because I want to keep it more medical and professional. So I find it actually quite a light and easy going way to interact with people, on Twitter, much more so than email.
Naveen Pemmaraju: Is there such a thing as tweeting too much, Aaron?
Aaron Gerds: Well, if you’re tweeting more than you’re speaking with your family, then it’s probably too much. So you definitely want to tweet a lot because it’s about creating volume, but you also want it to be quality too. So to me, it’s finding that balance between quantity and quality, and really getting that good blend. I think a lot of times I’ll do this myself, but I’ll just get out and I’ll shoot out 15 tweets all at once, and that’s probably not a good thing either. You probably want to space them out and hit people at different times.
If you think about between 8:00 and 10:00 in the morning local time, and then between 3:00 and 5:00 local time in the afternoon, because that’s when people are coming and going, they’re in the elevator checking their Twitter feeds, as soon as they get … before they go home or after they get to work. So you want to think about tweeting in those times, and the powerful tool to spread the tweets out are timed tweets. So you can really be a superpower user, if you will, by using scheduled tweets, I think. And it can actually help you spread them out and increase your voice.
Naveen Pemmaraju: That’s great. Graham, any thoughts, reflections on that?
Graham Collins: Yeah. Well, I guess we haven’t mentioned the whole concept of a Twitter scoop as well, which is amazing if you get that. So that is a new phase three trial that is practice changing, just gets published, and you’re the first one, as far as you know, to copy paste the Kaplan–Meier and add a comment. That’s lovely. And actually I find at conferences, I’m often racing with one or two other lymphoma tweeters that are there to try and press send with a nice tweet with the slides attached. But maybe they’re doing timed tweets. Maybe I should get more on that, because that’s a way to cheat, it sounds like.
Aaron Gerds: Yeah, I think so.
Naveen Pemmaraju: That’s right. And you both are reminding me and the viewers out there who are watching this is we three have an excitement about it. I mean there is a thrill about discovery of information, disseminating information. Let’s face it, disseminating honest, true information in an era of infinite info. So I think this democratization of information that you both are talking about is pretty powerful.
Section 5: Using Twitter at conferences
Naveen Pemmaraju: One of the key developing aspects of using Twitter and social media in 2021 and beyond has to be in the setting of medical conferences. Yes, a lot of them were able to convert to virtual during the pandemic era, but as we get back to in-person meetings, I think it’s going to be paramount for all of us to communicate through social media, especially during the meetings.
What I’m advocating, and it may be revolutionary to some, is what if, and I want us to reimagine this together, what if meetings were a dialogue. The way we can do that is with Twitter. Twitter allows you an honest, authentic, raw reaction in the moment, it allows those conversations to be done in real time and then archive them later. It has personally changed the way I approach meetings because now with this ‘meeting within the meeting’, actually as soon as the talk, or the post, or whatever is completed, I’m always eager to see what my colleagues and collaborators think.
It’s really allowing us all to connect with each other in a way we never were before. I remember being at these busy ASH meetings and you have on your mind oh, I’d love to catch up with so-and-so. You may see them quickly for a coffee break, move on, and then you never really connect on an idea or a collaboration, but on Twitter, you’re able to connect in real time with multiple collaborators and then ideas are born. This has happened to me before that I’ve been at a meeting, we’ve tweeted together about it, and then boom, six months later we have a paper together or a project. So the hybrid format of attending the meeting either in real life or virtual, and then connecting and reconnecting through the meeting and then after with social media has given this other layer, exponential layer of learning, and enjoyment, and scientific gratification that we never have before.
Graham, any thoughts, reflections on that?
Graham Collins: With the virtual environment with COVID, if anything, actually it made Twitter easier. Because I just got my wife’s laptop open on Twitter, and my laptop open on the Congress. And I was literally just going between the two, which was good. And that was a good way to do it. And the other great thing that Congress is virtual or not, is often they do… You can access the slides in real time. And then of course, it’s very easy to just do a screenshot, and you’ve got a nice slide up there, which you can potentially attach to your tweet.
I don’t take notes at all at the meetings. I tweet. And for me, again, it’s a very good discipline to hear a presentation, condense it into however many characters it is, perhaps select three or four slides that you’ve just taken pictures of and to tweet it.
I find it a really good way of paying attention and not falling asleep and not drifting off. It makes me concentrate. And also the responses you get, the replies or whatever, it’s immediate feedback on the presentation. So I might think, “Oh, that’s a nice little study,” but then somebody helpfully points out the problems with it, and I think actually maybe it’s not such a nice study after all. So it’s a way of getting instant feedback on the congresses you’re attending and on the presentations you’re hearing. So I found it really stimulating in that way.
Naveen Pemmaraju: And remember, oftentimes people will feel comfortable to give information and thoughts maybe in the platform of Twitter than they may by raising their hand in these busy sessions, and so it allows more voices to be heard, particularly during these pandemic times. Now, we know people from all continents can interact, again in real time, and then those conversations are archived, so you can always go back and refer to them.
Aaron Gerds: Where I think debate is really healthy, is someone will present something at a meeting or at Congress and you say, “Boy, that survival curve just looks weird. What’s going on with that?” And then someone will say, “No, it’s this and this.” And then you can start to have a discussion about what is the true value there, and I think back and forth discussion and debate is really important. Everyone gets to comment on things. And I think that’s a real valuable, powerful thing that Twitter can do for biomedical science.
Naveen Pemmaraju: And then finally, I think whenever something controversial, new, exciting, something unexpected is presented, which yes, that still does happen at meetings, it allows folks a way to completely react and to be a part of a conversation whereas before it wasn’t. So I really encourage all of my own colleagues in the healthcare professions, particularly in HemOnc where information is so rapid and it’s changing so quickly, that you may have a lot of benefit from this respect to actually digest, process, understand, discuss, and categorize new information you find out at these meetings.
Section 6: Conclusion: Wrap-up with top tips
Naveen Pemmaraju: So we’ve talked about a lot of the pros, which actually I learned quite a bit from both of you. I really loved this conversation. Let’s have a bit more of a sober discussion in this section, which is both of you. So for Aaron, what pitfalls and things have you seen yourself? Is there anything that you feel that people need to know about, anything that you regret on Twitter? There’s no edit button, as we know, there is a delete button, but no edit. Let’s talk about that, gentlemen, both of you, pitfalls of social media and Twitter, Aaron.
Aaron Gerds: Yeah. I would love an edit button, because it almost seems the second you send it out you’re like, ah, I misspelled that word.” Or something as innocent as a typo, but I think people can make bigger mistakes. Because once it’s out there, like you said, it’s out there. Even if you delete a tweet, some may have captured it, or someone may be able to find it. So I think that’s a great rule, whatever you put on Twitter, make sure it’s something that you’re okay with having it out there forever, because it will be, potentially.
Naveen Pemmaraju: Graham, what are your thoughts, pitfalls and things to watch out for, for the new or beginner user?
Graham Collins: Oh yeah, it’s really important. So when I first started using Twitter, somebody said, “Imagine that your boss is on your shoulder as you tweet.” And I think that was a good lesson, but actually I want to extend that and say, “Imagine your boss is on one shoulder, but imagine a patient is on the other shoulder.” Because I have tweeted a number of times something, and then a patient has responded, not one of my patients necessarily, but somebody with that condition has responded. And sometimes I think, oh, I could have phrased that in a better way, that was perhaps a little bit more sensitive.
And actually once or twice I’ve had patients respond to a tweet, and say their story and want me to comment on their individual case. Now what I’ve decided to do there is I don’t ignore it, because I think that would be just rude, really. But I try if I can to direct message them, and just say, “Thanks for getting in touch.” I don’t really comment on cases that I don’t know, because there are things that may be going on which I would change the advice over. So there are these pitfalls definitely out there.
Aaron Gerds: Yeah. And definitely that happens a lot where patients, or prospective patients may reach out to you and say, “Hey, this is my story. What should I do next?” And like you said, you don’t want to ignore them because that’s rude. But I often try to also, if there’s some inkling like, “Hey, are you in this region of the country, this might be a good person that’s nearby you to see.” And recommend a specialist for what they’re looking for, and try to maybe even connect them with someone. I have had patients hunt me down through Twitter for visits. And so I refer them to our scheduling line, and they get in, can either see me in a virtual visit or an in-person visit. So it can be an important conduit for patient care.
Naveen Pemmaraju: Aaron, as we close this session, what are your final thoughts? So Twitter 101 to 404 here, if you had to take away two or three pearls to give to folks out there, how would you synthesize and summarize? And then Graham, we’ll go to you to close.
Aaron Gerds: Yeah. So just a couple of things, know your audience, know your brand, know your message. I think those are all the same three things, but I think that’s really, really important. Tweet what’s important to you. It’ll pay off. And I think in terms of pitfalls, Graham really pointed it out, I love that idea of the little angel and the little devil on your shoulder. Well, maybe the little devil being your boss and the little angel being your patient, but definitely this can be forever, so just make sure you’re okay with that. You can remove tattoos, but you can’t remove Twitter.
Naveen Pemmaraju: That’s great. Graham, what are your closing thoughts?
Graham Collins: Yeah, I think my thoughts would be for us medics, I think see it as a serious bit of professional development, both whether you follow people who you trust and get reliable, regular updates with useful comment, or indeed if you yourself get engaged and tweet. Because, of course, you don’t necessarily need to join Twitter and tweet a lot, you could just join it and follow a lot, and I do know some people who do that, but I think to take it actually as a serious bit of professional development.
I’ve tried now putting in my Twitter number of followers, or if you’re listed as top influence, whatever, I’m putting it in my annual appraisals for my appraisers to look at and registering it in my official CPD records because I think it really does add something, this speed of dissemination of information, plus the comment, plus the instant, as you say, ultimate peer review from colleagues to chew over this data in a matter of hours is invaluable, I think, in terms of updating us on what is important, what’s good, what’s not so good in our professional lives. So yeah, I would very much encourage people to do it, but not do it frivolously, actually take it seriously. It’s a seriously valuable tool.
Naveen Pemmaraju: Well, just brilliant, both of you. Thank you so much, Dr Graham Collins, Dr Aaron Gerds. I want to send a special shout out to our colleagues at VJHemOnc for helping us put together the very first VJHemOnc social media course in tutorials. Thank you all out there for joining us and happy tweeting.
Naveen Pemmaraju, MD, is a member of the ASH Communications Committee and the ASCO Leukemia Advisory panel; has participated in consultancy work for Pacylex Pharmaceuticals, ImmuniGen, Bristol Myers Squibb, Blueprint Medicines, Clearview Healthcare Partners, Astellas Pharma US Inc., Triptych Health Partners and CTI Biopharma; has received grants from Affymetrix and SagerStrong Foundation; has received honoraria from Incyte, Novartis, LFB Biotechnologies, Stemline Therapeutics, Celgene, AbbVie, MustangBio, Roche Diagnostics, Blueprint Medicines, DAVA Oncology, Springer Science + Business Media LLC, Aptitude Health, NeoPharm Israel and CareDx, Inc., has received research support from Novartis, Stemline Therapeutics, Samus Therapeutics, AbbVie, Cellectis, Affymetrix, Daiichi Sankyo and Plexxikon; and has received travel reimbursement from Stemline Therapeutics, Celgene, MustangBio, DAVA Oncology and AbbVie.
Aaron Gerds Aaron Gerds, MD, MS, has served on advisory boards for Galecto, PharmaEssentia and Constellation.
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