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Use Twitter to Help You Do Health and Medical Research - Setting Up Twitter

Twitter Can Help You Find Others With Similar Interests

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Updated June 20, 2013

Twitter is a social networking tool that may help you learn more about health care including your symptoms, diagnosis or treatment options by meeting and sharing with others.

Twitter is a microblogging tool. Participants share their thoughts using only 140 characters or fewer each time they post.

How can such short posts be useful to you? Here are some ideas about how to use Twitter and how it can benefit you:

The power of social networking is finding other people, people you never could have met in other ways, who have similar interests to you. This is definitely true with Twitter. In addition to adding their brief posts, participants "follow" other participants to see what they have to say. If you decide to try Twitter, your goal will be to participate in conversations with others -- both making statements, and reading their words.

In those conversations, you will find others who share a diagnosis, interest in healthcare reform, interest in specific forms of medical research, or share other interests you will want to pursue. You'll find people to ask questions of, or people to share your own resources with.

You'll also find something unique to social networking. That is, in addition to conversations about shared interests, you'll find people make quick comments about other things going on their lives. You may find an expert in government policy "tweets" about picking up her kids from school, or an expert in diabetes management who mentions taking a sick day for a lousy cold. These people will become human beings, people you begin to feel comfortable sharing information with.

Why not give Twitter a try? It's free, fun, and worth your time to experiment.

How to Get Started With Twitter

  • Sign up for Twitter and give yourself a name that is recognizable, or a name that represents you or your interests. You may use up to 15 characters.

  • Once you've confirmed your name, user name, and password, you'll arrive at your own homepage. At the top, it asks the question, "What are you doing?" Go ahead and type something there -- up to 140 characters.

  • You may also want to link to the "Settings" page, and fill out the form that's there. Instructions are provided. When you add your one-line bio, be sure to use keywords that will help others with similar interests find you. You can return later to do things like change background colors.

  • Now it's time to find other people you know, or who share interests. Twitter doesn't make this as easy as it could be, so here are some hints:

    • Go to: Twitter's search and type in keywords that will meet your interests. You'll want to use keywords that apply to your interests. You may input your diagnosis, for example. Or you may want to track down people who are discussing a specific interest like "healthcare policy" or "medical records."

    • If you have many interests, use separate searches (one search for healthcare, a different one for knitting.) Twitter also provides an advanced search.

  • Now check out the kinds of "tweets" others have posted. From the search results page, you can click on their IDs and see what their one-line bios say. You can also read the tweets they have shared recently to see if you want to follow them. If so? Then click "Follow" right beneath their photo or logo. You are now following them, which means, each time they post, the message will appear on your homepage.

  • Knowing their followers share their interests, too, you may want to click on their followers' icons on the right to see if you'd like to follow them, too.

  • Your homepage is only for your eyes. Others cannot see it.

Here's an invitation: If you want to follow me, please do: www.Twitter.com/TrishaTorrey (or, in Twitter-speak = @TrishaTorrey) When I can, I return the follow.

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