Have you heard about it? Yes, you probably have. Do you know what it is? No, you probably don’t. But you need it? Right? Everybody’s doing it and you don’t want to get left behind.
The formal definition as explained on twitter.com states that, “Twitter is a free social messaging utility for staying connected in real-time.”
All about timing
That doesn’t really help, does it?
Wikipedia’s definition states that “Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read other users’ updates known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 bytes in length. Updates are displayed on the user’s profile page and delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them.”
That’s better, but what’s the big deal?
Those 140 bytes of text go out instantly into the webisphere, like an instant message that the whole world can read right away.
According to an article by Tom Hespos on imediaconnection.com, “The real-time web, to which Twitter is a significant contributor, exists within the time period between right now and the time Google organizes information and makes it easily findable.”
What makes Twitter so exciting for its users and followers is the power of real time. It’s easy to understand when you are talking about celebrities and politicians but what’s the appeal for O&P?
Well, say a practitioner is on a good will mission in Honduras and comes across a patient with particular orthotic needs but doesn’t have the right components with her on the trip. She could send out a tweet requesting ideas or donations and have a response almost immediately that might enable her to receive the necessary components to treat the patient during the course of the trip instead of having to put off their treatment. Real time.
Technology updates. Say you’ve got a group of patients who are anxiously awaiting the release of a brand new – or improved – technology. Your friendly O&P sales representative stops by and casually mentions that they’ve fixed that hiccup in the product. You tweet it. Real time.
What about during AAOP or AOPA? Say I’m on the schedule to present for 9 a.m. but due to circumstances beyond my control, my time is changed. I can tweet the time change and all my followers will be instantly apprised of the new talk time. Real time.
Now, the important thing to remember is that Twitter is a tool and as a tool, it is up to you to use it properly. If you don’t have anything worth tweeting, then don’t. Content is still king and it doesn’t matter if content comes in 140 bytes or a 20-page whitepaper. People are not going to follow you if you make it clear that you are not worth following. Be respectful of your Twitter power.
One major don’t for Twitterers. Do not ever tweet anything that might come back to haunt you. Once you tweet it, it is out there for good. You can’t take it back.
It’s that exact “problem” with Twitter that has now resulted in a defamation lawsuit. Fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir, the “Boudoir Queen,” filed a lawsuit against celebrity Courtney Love, alleging that she libeled her through a series of Twitter posts made earlier this month.
Moral of the story: think twice, tweet once.
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