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To Tweet or Not to Tweet: Pros & Cons of Using Twitter for Professional Communication

By Alison Cogan, PhD, OTR/L

Alison CoganTwitter is a popular social media tool that has approximately 330 million users. You may have heard about celebrities who have millions of followers, tweets “going viral”, and bots that have been deployed to spread political agendas. However, did you know that there are a lot of health care professionals and researchers on Twitter who use the social media platform for professional networking and promoting their work? I joined Twitter a few years ago and although my activity level waxes and wanes, in general I find it useful. There are both upsides and downsides to using Twitter. Here are some pros and cons I’ve encountered in my experience.

The Pros

  • Connect with colleagues from around the world.
    I follow different researchers and organizations to find out what they are working on, what conferences they are attending, what talks and articles they find valuable, and new ideas that they share. Sometimes these items generate great discussions.
  • Keep up to date with announcements from organizations like NIH, AHRQ, universities, and others.
    I’ve learned about funding opportunities and professional issues through Twitter. It is also a good place to learn about legislative actions that affect rehabilitation and health care.
  • Learn about new publications that may be of interest.
    People often share information about their recent publications, so I learn about them sooner than I would if I waited for the official publication. When they publish in journals that I don’t typically read, I catch new things I may have otherwise missed.
  • Share your work with a large audience.
    Along the same lines, I can share all of this with other people! My favorite time to tweet is when I attend conferences and I can share updates about keynote speakers, thought provoking presentations, and share great spots to visit around the conference location.

The Cons

  • Keeping your personal and professional worlds separate (if that is important to you).
    I’ve opted to use my Twitter account only for professional networking and sharing. Lately, because of the political circumstances in the US, a lot of the healthcare professionals that I follow have shared strong opinions about current events and policies because they directly affect health, access to care, and or other issues related to patients or providing health care. Lately, political topics are unavoidable.
  • Time!
    It is easy to get sucked in to interesting threads or keep going back to check into new updates on a topic. I try to set aside specific times to look at Twitter, retweet anything I think is worth sharing, and coming up with my own posts. For example, I use the time waiting for the Metro on my way home from work, or while waiting in line for coffee.

So, to tweet or not to tweet? Overall, the pros outweigh the cons for me. If you decide to join the conversation, be sure to follow @ACRMtweets, @ACRMconference, @ACRMEarlycareer, and the other ACRM communities that you participate in! Check out the ACRM Social Media webpage for their Twitter handles. For my part, I’ll be tweeting away at the conference #ACRM2018!