From 0 to 3000: A Tribute to Our Twitter Followers

In addition to being editors of The Doctor’s Tablet, the department of communications and public affairs staff oversees social media for all of Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s official platforms. Today we proudly celebrate a remarkable milestone (for us, anyway!): our 3,000th Twitter follower.

We say “remarkable” because a little over two years ago we barely knew a hashtag from a price tag.

It was mid-2009 when the question first arose, “When are we going to launch our official Twitter account?” I can vividly remember the sinking feeling that even mention of the topic brought—and the stomach-churning second-guessing: ‘How can we do this effectively? We’re so far behind. What if no one follows us? By the way, what’s an @ reply?’

Shortly before the January 2010 launch of @EinsteinMed, I remember listening to a healthcare social media manager describing his many Twitter followers as part of a family. He said something that stuck with me. I didn’t fully understand the wisdom of the comment then, but I do now. “You will need to earn every Twitter follower you get,” he advised.

Fast forward to March 1, 2012 and our 3000th follower! Thank you @soapydoc!

What an incredible Twitter ride the past two years have been. After nearly 10,000 tweets, multiple Twitter chats, endless live-event tweeting and a litany of RTs, MTs and @ replies, we’ve learned so much. Thanks to our incredible Twitter community for teaching us, sharing with us and providing a steady stream of new information, insights, laughs, occasional snark—and true relationship building.

What’s most interesting about Twitter is how it’s being used by doctors, medical researchers, nurses and healthcare professionals as well as empowered e-patients to connect quickly and effect change. In his 2012 State of the Twitterverse report, @briansolis notes that 33 billion tweets are generated each day by some 500 million registered Twitter users. Most of them are not talking about what they had for lunch.

A special thanks to all those who’ve helped and supported us along the way: @debweil, @philbauman @kentbottles @medtopicwriter @practicalwisdom @danamlewis @lisagualtieri @westr @cyberdad @subatomicdoc @UM_MICHR, @ctsinclair @RichmondDoc @RealTalkBLewis @quality1 @NorthShoreLIJ @YUNews @MontefioreNews @EinsteinStudies @cardozolaw —just a partial list of all the colorful personalities we’ve interacted with along our journey.

We never intended to breathe the rarefied air of Twitter phenom @ladygaga (with 19.7 million followers); our initial goal was much more practical: become “part of the conversation” and do it fast before getting left in the dust!

Through an incredible effort by media relations team members Deirdre Branley and Kim Newman, we managed to work out the Twitter kinks in the early days. Our growth really took off last February when social media manager David Flores joined our team. His knowledge and comfort level with social media supercharged our efforts. We’ve managed to build a Twitter following that we consider a true community—one with whom we literally wake up, spend much of our day and often share a good-night sign-off.

Twitter chatter is frequently described as a fire hose. If that’s the case, then hashtags—keywords denoted by a # mark and used to help users search, sort and organize tweets—are the nozzles, providing us with a way to focus a seemingly endless stream of information.

The most useful information for us has come largely from #MDChat, the first organized chat for M.D.s on Twitter; #hcsm (Health Care on Social Media); and #meded, where medical education is discussed from the student perspective.

What we’re continuing to learn is the extraordinary power of listening. Whether it involves patients telling their stories, hospitals and other medical colleges sharing their experiences or scientists detailing their latest research, Twitter forces us to pay attention to what others are thinking and revealing. Our goal is always to listen more than we speak.

Communicating in 140 characters also helps you become a better communicator; it forces you to get to the point. We’ve had some lively responses to our tweets on topics ranging from scientific breakthroughs to medical education, disease prevention and even social media manager David Flores’ penchant for strong coffee. That response wouldn’t have happened if our Twitter community thought we weren’t listening.

So as we move forward on Twitter, we’ll continue to send out messages—not to compete, but to better engage and support this vibrant community that we indeed consider our digital family. A sincere “Thanks” to each one of you.

Now that you know what we’ve learned, please comment and let us know what you’ve discovered through Twitter.

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Paul Moniz

Paul Moniz

Paul Moniz is a co-editor of The Doctor's Tablet Blog and managing director of communications and marketing at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

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  • Gary M. Levin MD March 3, 2012, 8:25 PM

    Circle me on G+Gary Levin for news about G+ hangouts and it’s use in medicine.

  • Carmen Gonzalez March 5, 2012, 3:34 AM

    Great job on contributing to the practice of social media in healthcare and in participating on the weekly Healthcare Communications and Social Media (#hcsm) chats on Twitter. Yours is a voice of reason and is patient-centered, twin attributes of a winning strategy. Best wishes in your continued exploration.

  • Simon Sikorski, M.D. Twitter @SimonSikorskiMD March 5, 2012, 12:32 PM

    It was great to connect last night on #hcsm tweetup (healthcare communications & social media) – Keep up the great work!

  • Andrea Smith-Ruff March 5, 2012, 3:29 PM

    When MICHR decided to delve more deeply into Twitter last year, I looked at institutions that were similar to us to see how they handled Twitter. I found that @EinsteinMed was a great role model and, while I doubt that we’ll have 3,000 followers in the foreseeable future, following your lead has definitely helped us become “part of the conversation.” (Not to mention that we enjoy interacting with you.) Great job on a well-balanced Twitter experience and as @SimonSikorskiMD said, keep up the good work!

  • Lisa Fields March 8, 2012, 1:03 AM

    I’m humbled to have been included among the colorful personalities who have supported Einstein College of Medicine’s Twitter Journey. I have been consistently impressed with the professionalism, valuable tweets, clear demonstration of your mission and personality that has been shared with both the general public and specifically within the health care social media community.

    The specific feedback you gave regarding David Flores was spot on.

    It’s clear to provide a Twitter presence as valuable as yours takes a team of professionals who not only know the technical aspects of tweeting but also have a deep understanding and demonstration of leadership and soft skills. It’s obvious this team thinks before they ink.

    Congratulations on this significant accomplishment.

    “mazel tov!”

  • Paul Moniz

    Paul Moniz March 8, 2012, 1:31 AM

    Lisa,

    Thanks so much for reaching out and for
    all your support, sharp perspectives and sense of humor!
    We do “think before we ink” (like that!) but we also like to have fun.
    Talk soon. Paul and David.

  • Chandra Chauhan March 8, 2012, 2:04 PM

    Real Nice! I think it should be interactive, patients should be able to share their lessons/perspective too.Getting patients perspective can only help to improve the Doctor – patient relationships.

  • Paul Moniz

    Paul Moniz March 8, 2012, 2:08 PM

    Candy -

    Appreciate your feedback. We completely agree on the important role interactivity and patient perspectives play on Twitter.

    Look forward to staying connected.
    Paul