VirtualOT

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Australia
I am an Australian occupational therapist, educator and researcher. I have worked as an OT in mental health, vocational rehabilitation and a private surgical hospital. I am passionate using online technology to enhance the knowledge and growth of the occupational therapy profession. In my PhD research I am looking at the role of online technologies in information management and knowledge transfer in occupational therapy. Views expressed and stories shared on this blog are my opinion and do not represent views of my employer or professional registration body.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Harnessing the power of Twitter with the hashtag!#!#

On the 26th March 2009 I said "I don't see the point of Twitter" on my blog, but now I appear to be a born-again Twitter user!

It's amazing! It was a gradual build-up, or was it a steady erosion? Either way, over time I started tweeting more frequently and following more and more people. This meant that I also attracted more "followers" (which is always good for the online ego), and these people sent me interesting information and links etc!

The turning point in becoming a Twitter user was harnessing the power of the hashtag! Namely while I was at a conference #celc2010 and watching tweets from another conference #cot2010.

So... what's a hashtag # and what do they do?

Hashtags make all the difference in using Twitter because having a hashtag means that you can follow certain topics, events, people etc. Interestingly #wfot2010 was a very low key event on Twitter because we simply didn't have the numbers in OT circles to create a groundswell of activity (and I know some key people really tried, ClaireOT, EnableOT, Su_BuOT, BridgettPiernik, alisonlaverfaw and Merrolee and even VirtualOT), but it wasn't not enough to create an impact in the Twittersphere.

Over the past weekend I followed more and more topics of interest using hashtags and found that it was both a blessing and a curse. A good example is as Nils pointed out on Facebook, #OT brings in topics of conversation around the Old Testament and Occupational Therapy... among other things. I figure you just "block" those people who always want to talk about the Old Testament instead of occupational therapy, but will that block people who are talking about occupational therapy and the old testament? Yes! I'm not sure that there's a solution to this.

Claire Jones suggested that we need a hashtag system! I agree, we do! So Claire initiated this on the OT 4 OT wiki on a page called "Hashtags List" and we need your help. What hashtags are we already using and what hashtags should we make?

Getting the news you want on Twitter
On another topic around Twitter, it is crucial to have a way to organize where and how you capture Tweets. Sure, you can go to their website and read through the Tweets that have been posted by the people you follow, and you can add your own tweets while you are there. But Twitter is really about getting information in and out fast! So, we need to use an application for Twitter that manages the feeds and organizes them into categories and does this on a mobile device.

I have found four applications so far and tried three: Twitterific, Tweetdeck and HootSuite are the ones I've tried, and today I heard about "Involver" but have not found an iPhone app for this. Tweetdeck and HootSuite are superior to Twitterific, so I would recommend choosing between these. I am not familiar enough yet with HootSuite to say it is better than Tweetdeck, and it appears from a conversation on Mashable today that the jury is "divided" on this.

The main reason to use one of these apps is that they organize information coming in for you. They organize it using the hashtags and searches you have set up, and put them into columns or folders for you. That way you can open up the Twitter app and go to the search that you want. e.g. #wfot2010. It makes it faster and easier to stay up to date with what you want. The other wonderful thing about these apps is they also allow you to feed in updates from Facebook. Tweetdeck lets you add feeds from LinkedIn as well when using it on the internet, but not on the mobile app. HootSuite brings in feeds from Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare.

I'm really interested to know who is using Twitter, what you are using for and how you are managing all that information!

6 comments:

Anita Hamilton said...

Thanks Claire for starting the list of hashtags at http://wfotcongress2010.pbworks.com/Twitter-Hashtags-List

Anyone can add to this list and help us create a helpful resource. We may need to put it into categories once it grows larger :-)

Your Therapy Source Inc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Your Therapy Source Inc said...

I am hooked on Twitter as well. I find great information each time I visit Twitter whether it be for professional or personal reasons. I have written an article entitled Twitter for Therapists if interested.

Anita Hamilton said...

Great! I love your article! Thanks for sharing. I will link this into our wiki also :-)
http://wfotcongress2010.pbworks.com/

Feel free to become a writer on this wiki too.

Cheers, Anita

TherExtras said...

Hi, Anita, nice to meet you - since you began following me on twitter - today! Now that I see Margaret's comment (YourTherapySource) I can guess how you found me. ;)

I am a relative-novice on twitter and Margaret was influential in bringing me over. (I just had my 3rd anniversary of blogging.)

Other than Margaret's article, the most help I received was from @MichaelHyatt who has a primer on twitter. I wish more people followed his advice on using less than 140 characters to make it easier to RT.

I was slow to figure-out hashtags and also found that #OT got me nothing basically. So I routinely stick to my specialty areas #specialneeds #cerebralpalsy #Downsyndrome #autism and #parenting.

I considered Hootsuite, but found it more complicated than I need. I manage on the level of followers and following. I don't automatically follow someone who follows me. I look at their tweets and website to decide. If they are marketing and using my followers to extend their marketing, I block them. For now, when I am at my twitter 'home' the stream of tweets is not unmanageable. If it gets so, I expect I will pick/up tweetdeck.

See you 'round twitterdom!
Barbara Boucher, OT, PhD, PT

Anita Hamilton said...

Hi Barbara, so nice to meet you :-) It sounds like you have a very nice and tidy approach to Twitter! I have added a layer to prevent marketers from spamming me. They have to complete a second step.

I did it after I was exposed to this program by someone else. To follow them I had to complete a form to show I was not a "machine" I can't remember the name of the website that I logged into though! I will try to find out.

Cheers, Anita

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