Written by Maryanne Perrin – MBA, graduate student in Nutrition Science, ILCA volunteer
Many of my friends who are die-hard Facebook users say they just don’t understand the power and appeal of Twitter. If you fall into this category, read on! We are trying to build an army of TwIBCLCs (slang for “IBCLCs who tweet”) to fill the social media airwaves with breastfeeding chatter in preparation for the 2012 ILCA Conference and World Breastfeeding Week. In this article we’ll give you five great reasons to “Get Twitter” and we’ll also cover some Twitter basics in hopes that you’ll pick up your phone (or laptop) and tweet.
Five Great Reasons to “Get Twitter”
(1) Significant improvements in breastfeeding rates will require major cultural changes and Twitter has a track record as a tool for driving change (think Arab Spring and Komen breast screening funding). The more people there are talking about a message, the closer we move towards a tipping point where breastfeeding becomes the cultural norm.
(2) TwIBCLCs can share real-time insights and sound bites from conference presentations with thousands of IBCLCs around the world who aren’t able to attend (Twitter makes it easy for people to view all messages associated with a certain subject – in this case #ilca2012). That’s a great gift to your colleagues! If you want to see what TwIBCLCs were saying at last year’s conference, click here.
(3) During the conference we’ll give away a daily prize (gift certificates, webinar certificates, and even a Conference Registration Day for 2014) for a TwIBCLC selected at random (just tag your tweets with #ilca2012 so we can find them).
(4) Don’t underestimate the power of Twitter as a networking tool! Relationships I’ve developed on Twitter have led to media interviews and even an invitation to attend a congressional briefing in Washington, DC. To help you further expand on your Twitter relationships, we’ll hold a Tweetup (“an organized gathering of people who use Twitter”) in the Exhibitors Hall on Friday, July 27, 2012 from 12:30pm until 2:00pm so you can meet your fellow TwIBCLCs face-to-face.
(5) Finally, you’ll master the art of brevity by making your point in 140-characters or less and earn groovy-points with your kids, colleagues and clients for embracing a new technology.
Getting Started with Twitter
Okay, you’ve just created a Twitter account. Now what? Like anything in life, you’ll get as much out of Twitter as you put into it. Here are some tips for getting started.
- Make sure to complete your full profile, which includes a 140 character description of yourself, a photo, and a link to your website, so people can learn a bit about you and your interests. (It’s hard to feel connected to an image-less, description-less Tweeter.)
- Find people to “follow” by searching on terms that interest you (e.g. breastfeeding, IBCLC). Once you follow someone, their tweets will show up in your newsfeed. Don’t forget to follow ILCA (we’re at @ILCA1985)!
- Join in conversations, share news, or retweet valuable information others have shared. You only have 140 characters so consider using a URL shortening service like bit.ly, tinyurl, or goo.gl to create a shortcut for longer URLs.
- Consider using hashtags (e.g. #breastfeeding) in your tweets for specific keywords that you are interested in. This allows others to find you and begin a conversation based on common interests. The hashtag for the 2012 ILCA Conference is #ilca2012.
- Want more information? Twitter 101 provides basic information about Twitter and links to additional resources.
Are you a TwIBCLC? We’d love to hear comments on how you’ve used and benefited from Twitter.