RAQ: What platform do you recommend for Twitter chats?

This question comes from Chris Patota (@WestchesterPR), and is shared with permission:

I just came across your blog today, and I think it’s a great resource for people like me who are trying to leverage social media for business. I have a quick question for you…what is your preferred Twitter Chat technology? I would like to use a Twitter chat for one of my clients’ events, so I wanted to see if you had any recommendations.


Thanks, Chris. As I describe in this post on “3 Steps to Joining or Leading a Twitter Chat,” I’ve mainly been recommending using the basic Twitter interface, because it requires less training than some other options.

Especially for newbies, that seems to be the most straightforward, so users don’t need to install Tweetdeck or some other application. There is enough to learn without complicating the process with another application.

Tweetchat.com is OK too, and saves the need to enter the hashtag each time…but to me the Twitter interface has gotten good enough (with a saved search, as described in Twitter 116) to make that work well.

I personally like to use Tweetdeck, and just create a search pane for the hashtag. This is especially helpful for chats that recur from week to week, such as #hcsm, or otherwise have some ongoing activity. That enables me to check at a glance whether there is anything new, instead of having to remember to click the #hcsm link on my Twitter interface.

I also would advise you to have new Tweeps sign up for their accounts and do a few tweets in advance, because I’ve noted that sometimes new users’ tweets don’t show up reliably in Twitter search. So you might want to have them do a few tweets using your proposed hashtag.

If anyone has a way to ensure the inclusion of new users’ tweets in Twitter search, please share it in the comments on this post.

5 steps to getting the most out of #mayoragan09

I’m excited that we are on the verge of beginning the health care social media summit, which we are hosting at our Scottsdale, Arizona Mayo Clinic campus in collaboration with Ragan Communications. The pre-conference sessions start tomorrow, with the full conference kicking off on Monday.

I will be delivering the opening Keynote on Monday, and part of my role (and my goal) is to set the tone and provide pointers on how participants can have the best possible experience. I will be posting my slides for reference here on SMUG, but I wanted to start by offering some links and tips that I hope will be especially helpful for those who are newer to social media.

  1. Join Facebook. If you need some background, see the Facebook curriculum and particularly Facebook 101.
  2. Join the #MayoRagan09 group in Facebook.
  3. Write on the Facebook group’s wall, upload photos or videos, and start or participate in discussions.
  4. Join Twitter. You may find Twitter 101: Intro to Twitter and Twitter 102: Creating an Account helpful in getting started.
  5. Follow the #MayoRagan09 hashtag in Twitter in whatever way seems most convenient to you, whether it’s through a desktop application like Tweetdeck or a Web-based service such as Tweetchat, Hootsuite or CoTweet.

If you haven’t yet made plans to attend the summit, you can still sign up for the Webcast. Video recordings will likely be available for purchase following the summit. Meanwhile, please do join in the conversation via the means listed above.

RAQ: How can I update both Twitter and Facebook?

Here’s a question from yesterday (I’m paraphrasing):

I don’t do a very good job of keeping either Twitter or my Facebook status updated. Is there a way I can do both at the same time, or use Twitter to update Facebook?


Twitter 110, which was developed more than a year ago, lists some options for this. One limitation though, and the reason I quit having Twitter automatically update my Facebook status, is that I tend to tweet a lot and often have replies, for example, that would not make sense to Facebook users who haven’t been part of the conversation. So my kids used to tell me, “Dad, your Facebook status is always really boring.” Or weird.

If you spend more time in Facebook, you can use the Twitter application within Facebook to send your tweets.

But here’s the way I currently prefer to work, using Tweetdeck. In Tweetdeck I can incorporate both of the Twitter accounts with which I work (@LeeAase and @mayoclinic) as well as my Facebook profile. That way I don’t have to be in Facebook or on the Twitter Web interface, but can update both simultaneously.

So I can select just to have updates sent to my personal Twitter account:

Picture 1

…or I can select to go both to Twitter and Facebook:

Picture 2

If I choose the latter, the Tweetdeck dashboard shows this:

Picture 5

And here’s what shows up on Facebook:

Picture 7

and on Twitter:

Picture 6

The nice part about having an application like Tweetdeck is that you can decide which messages are appropriate for which platform. And of course, as I say in Twitter 106 and in Twitter 152: Tweetcamp III, Tweetdeck or an application like it greatly increases your Twitter productivity.

I still don’t update my Facebook status as frequently as I should, but Tweetdeck makes it easier to keep the status updated without having to go to the Facebook Web interface.

How do you keep Twitter and Facebook statuses updated? Or do you even try to do both?

Tweetcamp: Twitter 150

Update: Tweetcamp was a success, and here’s a post on Sharing Mayo Clinic that includes a link to the related story that ran on ABC’s Good Morning America. I’ll be doing a recap post about the whole experience, hopefully later tonight.


The slides below accompany a crash course, a Twitter bootcamp we’re calling Tweetcamp – I’m leading for some colleagues at work today. The course will be live at 2:30 p.m. CDT, April 15, 2009, and we’re inviting a limited number of external participants to join via phone conference. See below the slide deck for details on how to join.

  1. Anyone can participate, whether live or not, by going through the slides and tweeting comments or questions using the #tweetcamp hashtag. Please begin by introducing yourself and where you’re tweeting from.
  2. We will have a group of participants going through this together at 2:30 p.m. in Rochester, but can accommodate a limited number joining us by phone conference. If you are interested in this, please send an email to me, and my assistant will let you know if we are able to accommodate you live on the call.
  3. Please re-tweet this event invitation to your followers. I hope to use this event as another illustration (besides what you see in the slides above) of Twitter’s power to make connections rapidly.
  4. The beauty of the #tweetcamp hashtag is that the discussion can continue even after the one-hour live session is done, and hopefully you’ll make connections through the introductions with other people who have common interests in social media and/or health care.
  5. See the rest of the Twitter curriculum.

Twitter 131: Sensitivity and Specificity in Twitter Search

In the medical field, we consider both the sensitivity of a diagnostic test and its specificity.

Sensitivity refers to the proportion of the times that a test yields true positives. The closer the sensitivity is to 100%, the more likely a positive result actually means that the patient has a disease. Specificity refers to the proportion of the time that a test yields true negatives. The closer the specificity is to 100%, the more likely a negative result means that the patient is truly disease-free.

The perfect screening test is 100 percent sensitive (it finds every person who has the disease) and 100 percent specific (it doesn’t identify someone as having the disease who really doesn’t.)

I got to thinking about this, and how it relates to social media monitoring (particularly for Twitter), when I saw this post in my Tweetdeck this morning:



That led me to do a little investigation to find the original tweets that led Tom Stitt to include me in his @ reply:




My normal set-up for Tweetdeck includes panes for All Friends, Replies, Direct Messages and a search for “mayo clinic” – which is why I didn’t see the original exchange between @brendafinkle and Tom. It left off the word “clinic.”

That got me wondering whether I should consider having my regular search be for “mayo” instead of “mayo clinic” so I wouldn’t miss tweets like this.

In other words, was my “mayo clinic” search too specific, but not sensitive enough?

As it turns out, thanks to lots of people tweeting about their condiments, the NBA basketball player, Simon Mayo and the Mexican holiday (and other Spanish-tweeters with their references to events in the fifth month), searching for just “mayo” dramatically reduced the specificity of my Twitter test without appreciably increasing the number of tweets I found that were really about Mayo Clinic. 

I was overwhelmed with irrelevant tweets. (Not that they weren’t important to the people who sent them….) In fact, of 134 current tweets in the “mayo” search pane on my Tweetdeck, there were only 4 that were about Mayo Clinic that didn’t include both “mayo” and “clinic.” This only increased my Twitter search sensitivity by 3 percent, but drove my specificity from 99+ percent to about 20 percent. I had been finding virtually all the relevant tweets already.

So the sensitivity and specificity of the “mayo clinic” search makes it the preferable diagnostic test for me. By searching for just “mayo” we might find a few more Mayo Clinic-related conversations, but we also would be greatly increasing the work required to sift through all the extraneous material. The signal-to-noise ratio would be seriously diminished.

And since the answer to Brenda’s original question is “Only about 1.5 FTE dedicated to social media, but we’re providing training and encouraging the rest of our Public Affairs staff to include social media elements in their communication planning” (I know, that’s more than 140 characters), we can’t afford to make the monitoring more labor intensive by making the search less specific.

And with Twitter friends like Tom, I’ll hopefully keep getting alerted to the tweets that I miss through the more specific search.


  1. Do your own Twitter search for variations of terms that are important to you, either in Tweetdeck panes or in different windows or tabs on search.twitter.com. You also might want to experiment with searches including a hashtag. For example, my friends at United Parcel Service could search for #ups instead of  just ups. That way they wouldn’t get push-ups, sit-ups and other variations, but would get tweets specifically tagged as being about their company.
  2. Let your fellow SMUGgles know what Twitter search strategies are working for you, in the comments below.