Twying Twitter

I’ve been watching all the chirping about Twitter, those who are addicted and those who hate it. One of the questions I had was how I might practically use it. Lifehacker has some good thoughts, and other related posts are here, here and here.

So, I decided to try it. Part of my job as Manager for National Media and New Media at Mayo Clinic is to explore new trends and how they might affect our work of communicating about research, relating with journalists and making reliable health and medical information available to the general public.

I’ll admit that SMS text messaging is something with which I wasn’t too familiar, mainly because it was an extra charge on my cell phone bill. And with six users on our cell phone plan (even with my oldest daughter getting married and moving to a new account) we didn’t need more cell phone expense.

But my daughters are seriously into IM and SMS, as is everyone else in their generation, so I rationalized buying the 300 message plan for myself on grounds of connecting with them and also better understanding the next generation.

I set up a Twitter account here, and would welcome friends to join. You can sign up for my Twitter RSS feed (I can’t guarantee it will be interesting) even without joining Twitter, but if you do join Twitter you can get alerts on your cell phone.

I’m not sure how I can best use Twitter or whether Mayo Clinic should, but I look forward to exploring. My friend Shel Holtz at FIR uses it to tweet people and invite comments when he’s recording his twice weekly podcast with Neville Hobson, which I think is a neat way to create more timely interactivity with their audience.

I could see this possibly being used for emergency communications, disaster drills, to quickly get messages to a core team. Setting up a Twitter account called “Disaster55905” for our zip code, and asking people to sign up for SMS alerts, would be a good way to reach participants quickly.

I could see this having some media relations possiblities too, where maybe journalists could set up an account where they post what stories they’re working on, and what kinds of sources they need. It might be a way to get sources quickly without using email or placing phone calls. And maybe for organizations that have news releases/studies, etc., they (or we) could use it for a heads up to journalists who opt in to receive notification of story ideas…creating a community of news related to a topic like health, or medicine, or for a particular company or industry.

Journalists and their editors have traditionally wanted to keep their story budgets close to the vest for competitive reasons, but maybe not in the future. Wired magazine has an interesting crowdsourcing article that suggests maybe journalists might be opening up a bit.

What do you think? Possibilities?

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Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 15. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. Emeritus staff of Mayo Clinic. Founder of HELPcare and Administrator for HELPcare Clinic.

0 thoughts on “Twying Twitter”

  1. Thanks for the link, Lee. I’m now following your tweets. I like your disaster communication idea. Maybe employers should consider setting up a Twitter account so they can tweet employees in case of emergency or weather related office closings. The possibilities are many.

  2. Part of my job is to be Public Information Officer in case of disasters, and in these cases we need to mobilize a large group relatively quickly. I know we’re investigating some services that do auto phone dialing, email messages and text messages to cell phones, but it seems Twitter might be a good method for all except the phone part…because you could set up a special account, get employees to subscribe to the tweets, and also have an email message generated by the RSS feed from the Twitter site. I don’t know whether Twitter is industrial grade enough for us, but that’s one top-of-mind application I can think of. I really like the immediacy of Twitter when you have the cell phone notification on.

    I’ve got a lot to learn about how it works and how people are using it, and some of the conventions and shortcuts, but I think it will be fun to explore.

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