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Stunned but Smiling

by John Moore | January 21, 2010

Found out yesterday that of some 500 industry analysts now on Twitter, I ranked 34th according to analysis done by the global PR firm, Edelman.  Wow!

As some of you know, nearly a year ago I started experimenting with the application/service Twitter and put a “Twitter Feed” on the site.  I approached the use of Twitter cautiously remembering when it first arrived on the scene in 2006 and thinking WTF, why would anyone except the most egotistical ever use Twitter to broadcast what they are doing at a particular moment in time?

Well, times change and so does one’s opinion.

I began using Twitter for two specific purposes, marketing and research.

On the marketing front, I found I could use Twitter to create a following of those interested in Chilmark Research’s reports, posts and musings on all things healthcare IT.  Today, nearly 1,750 people follow @john_chilmark.  Sure,it is not Bill Gates who just joined Twitter this week and now has over a quarter of a million followers, but for this analyst working a pretty selective niche in the IT market, I’m quite pleased with the results and will probably exceed 2,000 followers in the next month or so.

For research I found Twitter to be simply an amazing resource. Rather than RSS feeds that dominated my efforts to stay abreast of developments in the healthcare space, I now use those that I follow (around 440 others) to keep me informed on the latest trends in healthcare IT, technology (e.g., cloud computing), and policy. Those I follow basically act as my filter and tweeting only about those issues which are most relevant to them.  The trick here is to choose those you wish to follow wisely.

In the twitterverse, it is important to give as well as receive. Beyond announcing Chilmark’s latest post or research effort, an area that has been particularly fruitful for me to engage my followers is attendance at various events.  In the past I used to take copious notes and write a follow-up post on a given event.  I still do this but with less frequency and have instead migrated to using Twitter to give real-time, 140 character posts of the most critical things I am seeing, hearing and/or experiencing.

Lessons Learned:

Do not write off any technology completely: One never knows how a technology might evolve and ultimately prove useful in the future.  Twitter is one of Chilmark’s top research resources today.

Define your purpose: Twitter is messy.  If you do not go in with a clear objective of what you wish to accomplish in using this service you’ll flounder aimlessly and likely walk-away.

Choose who you follow carefully: When first joining, I began “following” many who were considered social media gurus.  Have come to the conclusion that many of these gurus are utter bores with far too many inane tweets. My rule of thumb: Do not follow someone who tweets one personal event like “buying coffee at airport Starbucks…” for every 20 tweets. Creates to much noise.

Be engaged and engaging: Engage whenever you can with others on key topics of interest to you (and your followers) sharing thoughts and ideas.  Be cogent in your tweets, share knowledge, contribute.

Stay up to the minute.

“As biometric data becomes cheaper and easier to collect through smart sensors, devices, and mobile apps, expect to see more innovations in consumer health.”

-Alicia Vergaras