Tweet Chats & Health

Written By Alaina Cyr
Image of Twitter Feed
The start of a #bcsm (breast cancer social media) tweet chat

I’ve used Twitter professionally for the better part of the last 5 years. I didn’t really 'get' Twitter when I first started. Sure, I picked up the mechanics fairly quickly after a little practice. I was posting several messages a day, responding to others, retweeting cool links, and following interesting people. All the while I felt overwhelmed and frustrated. There were so many messages floating around that it was hard to keep up, and no one seemed to be responding to my messages.

It wasn’t until I started taking part in tweet chats (regularly scheduled chats centered on a hashtag - find an excellent guide on tweet chats here) that Twitter clicked with me. It was so cool to spend an hour exchanging thoughts and ideas with other people over a common interest. It felt like an online club. Even better, I could easily continue the conversations and connect with new people once the tweet chat ended.

Though tweet chats exist for a whole host of things, most of my experience with them is in the context of health. I love using tweet chats to talk about health. Here’s why:

  1. People from all different backgrounds are welcome.
    You don’t have to be an expert to participate. Many health-related tweet chats have a wide variety of people participating including patients, caregivers, advocates, researchers, doctors, nurses, and other health care providers. All that you need is an interest or curiosity in the topic of discussion.
  2. Everyone talks at the same volume.
    On Twitter, white coats and medical gowns disappear. People chat openly and equally about the issues impacting health care.
  3. New connections beyond your usual borders are possible.
    Whether geographic or professional barriers, Twitter lets you meet all kinds of people.
  4. Conversations are already happening, and it’s really easy to join in.
    Although there are many health-related tweet chats happening every day (check out Symplur’s list of health care tweet chats), there are a few communities related to cancer: