It may surprise you to know that I’m not that into the personal use of social media. I use Facebook as a glorified address book and have dabbled in Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest.
With that said, there is one social tool that soars above. That tool is Twitter. If you are a veterinary professional and you haven’t yet become a Twitter user, look alive.
Twitter is a completely different animal…a bird… and I’m here to show you how to leverage it for your busy #veterinary life.
The following is your essential start-up-guide to Twitter. Don’t miss the end, where some of my favorite veterinary tweeters share their top Twitter recommendations.
Want quick access to all the who-to-follow recommendations? VetMed Twitter All-Star List.
What is Twitter?
In 2006, Twitter was launched as way to communicate in brief with a small group. The word Twitter itself means a “short burst of inconsequential information” or “chirps from birds”.
In my opinion, Twitter is the only social media tool that can actually enhance personal productivity. It really shouldn’t even be called social media. Because of Twitter’s character limitations, it is more of an information network, like a scrolling news ticker customizable for your life.
Increasingly, Twitter is becoming the place that news breaks. And that makes sense, due to the versatile and unrestricted way Twitter facilitates information sharing at the minute it happens.
This tweet from May 2, 2011 became famous as the first suggestion of the Osama Bin Laden raid.
Here are some new-to-Twitter essential terms. Want extra credit? Guide to Twitter Lingo.
Twitter “handles” (i.e. @VMDtechnology) are like usernames and always start with the “@” symbol.
A “tweet” refers to a 140-character or less message posted by a Twitter user. Tweets can be sent out via text message, the Twitter app, or from a browser.
A “hashtag” is a (“#”) symbol followed by a word (or unspaced phrase). Hashtags are used as a way to make data searchable. If you are interested in tweets relevant to veterinary medicine, search for the hashtag #veterinary.
“Retweeting” is when you re-publish someone else’s tweet to your followers. This is how tweets go viral and when Twitter becomes really powerful.
How to Get Started
Navigate over to Twitter.com and set up a free Twitter handle for yourself. Once you set up your handle, there are two ways to use Twitter, which is what intimidates most new tweeters.
You can sign up and start tweeting information in hopes of having others “Follow” you.
Or, for the casual veterinary Twitter user, simply start by following other people, leveraging Twitter into that scrolling news ticker I mentioned above.
Twitter allows you to follow anyone who has an account (think celebrities, news agencies, companies, and friends).
Violà! You now get tweets from anyone you follow via the Twitter app, push notifications, or email digests.
Two final suggestions: don’t overdo it when selecting people to follow or you’ll be overwhelmed. And utilize “Lists” by reading this Twitter List Guide.
Twitter for Veterinary Medicine
Twitter is my preferred way of keeping up with veterinary (and non-veterinary) news, new journal articles, product recalls and backorders. Here are my recommendations on who to follow for news around the veterinary industry.
Follow them all simply by subscribing to my Twitter List of Breaking Veterinary News.
Twitter can be much more, from a platform for personal communication to a way to keep clients informed about your hospital’s ongoings.
Want another idea? The truly tech-savvy owner could leverage Twitter as an in-hospital communication tool that is fun and informative. You just need to set up a Twitter handle and set it as private (restricting followers to those you approve).
Then you can require employees to follow you so they get instant practice updates on their smartphones – a way to kick that overwhelming email habit you are constantly fighting and foster a more responsive staff.
Veterinary Insider Recommendations
Now for the real fun. VMD Technology has rounded up some of our favorites from the veterinary Twittersphere to offer some amazing in-the-trenches advice. Their fantastic contributions are below.
Dr. Justine Lee @drjustinelee
Dr. Justine Lee is a double boarded veterinary specialist (Emergency & Critical Care and Toxicology). If you’ve never heard Dr. Lee lecture, I highly recommend it. She’s also the “girl” behind VetGirl, an innovative continuing education service for our profession.
Along with the following list, she provides this excellent advice: “I’m doing more tweeting than I ever have before, now that Facebook’s algorithm chases people away (i.e., less and less people see your posts unless you pay Facebook more and more money!)… depending on whom you’re aiming to reach, these are some of my “go-to” social media Twitter pals who have a great pet owner or veterinary audience… and great content!”
@CliniciansBrief: Great medical content that is directed towards veterinarians and veterinary technicians. Fun fast quizzes to test your medical knowledge!
@DawgBlogger: Jane Rade has tough-breed dogs (Hey, I love pit bulls and rotties), a great following, and writes good stuff. She has some crazy followers, and I often cringe at some of the questions and responses from her pet following. That said, I weigh in when I want to and ignore the rest.
@pawcurious: Dr. V blogs on her adventures, pets, food tips and more. She has a huge pet owner following on Twitter, and she mixes up her content to keep it interesting. More importantly, she blogs on some important, controversial hot topics (like the prevalence of suicide in veterinary medicine, the “outrageous” costs of going to the animal ER, and ABC’s 20/20 slam on veterinarians). She’s not afraid to preach it.
@VetGirlOnTheRun: A subscription-based podcast and webinar service. Obviously, I’m biased here, but if you’re short on time, what better way to test your veterinary knowledge with some radiographs, pictures, guess-the-diagnosis, and more?
Dr. Andy Roark @DrAndyRoark
Dr. Roark is a well-known small animal practitioner, writer, and lecturer. He also happens to be the brains behind @DrAndyRoark, my favorite place for veterinary comedy and advice I can relate to in practice.
Dr. Roark was kind enough to share the following list and adds, “For the record, I always dread making these lists. I invariably leave a few people out that I later remember…To all those people I left off this hastily-made list, please forgive me.”
@Pawcurious: Dr. Jessica Vogelsang is probably my favorite veterinary writer, bar none. She is funny, insightful, and always interesting. She has a new book coming out in 2015, and I’m expecting her Twitter presence to only increase.
@DrSueCancerVet: Dr. Sue Ettinger’s tweets are both engaging and informative. If you want tips on how to make cancer a positive subject that can be comfortably discussed with clients, no one out there does it better.
@CatVetSusan: Dr. Susan Little literally wrote the book on feline medicine. She tweets great links on that subject and on veterinary medicine in general.
@DrJustineLee: Double boarded in Toxicology and Emergency & Critical Care, Dr. Lee shares a lot of vital information. One of the things that make her really special, IMO, is that she approaches cases from a very real-world perspective. She’s a master at improvising and working within the constraints of the equipment, resources, and facilities she has. (Also check out her partner at @VetGirlOnTheRun, Dr. Garret Pachtinger @GPachtinger).
@DrMartyBecker: Dr. Marty Becker’s Twitter feed is a fantastic source for general pet health information and feel-good stories about the human animal bond. Look for more information on Dr. Becker’s Fear Free Practice initiative in the coming months.
@Finch93: Dr. Shawn Finch is a prolific writer and owns one of the longest-lived pet health blogs on the Internet (rileyandjames.com). She is constantly putting out interesting information on a huge variety of topics, and she also happens to be a genuinely delightful person.
@VetChangesWorld: A very positive perspective on veterinary medicine and life in general. Dr. Courtney talks pet health, life balance, and the power of giving back to the community and world at large. I think she’s worth following just for the awesomeness of her Twitter handle.
@LorieAHuston: Dr. Huston is a certified veterinary journalist and super-prolific writer. Her Twitter stream is a fire hose of pet information. Great if you’re looking for content to share with pet owners.
@DrPattyKhuly: Dr. Khuly is a ridiculously sharp DVM/MBA who writes some of the most thought-provoking vet articles I’ve ever read. She doesn’t shy away from controversy, and maybe that’s part of why I can’t stop waiting to see what she’ll say next.
@ElliottGarber: Army officer traveling the world doing all sorts of things not listed in your standard veterinarian job description. If you love travel, exotics, and imagining how different your job and life could be from what it is now, check Dr. Garber out.
Danielle Lambert @DanielleSNOUT
Danielle is a small animal veterinary practice manager, social media coach, and the brains behind SnoutSchool.com, a brilliant social media academy for veterinary professionals. Danielle shares her top Twitter accounts:
@RonAtDove: When it comes to veterinary professionals on Twitter, no one beats the staff of Portland, OR emergency hospital, Dove Lewis, and their veterinary training website, On The Floor at Dove. As the CEO of Dove Lewis, Ron Morgan offers insightful quotes about management and team culture, paired with awesome pictures of what’s going on at Dove Lewis. I honestly suggest you follow the entire At Dove team.
@VetPracticeVAHS: Dr. Cody Creelman does an amazing job of documenting the “behind-the-scenes” aspects of his job as a bovine veterinarian using visual media. This is a great case study on how to best use social media to document your veterinary day. Not only that, but you’ll see a plethora of pictures of the cattle that he cares for. Dr. Creelman integrates Vine, a 6-second video app, to include videos of his veterinary work in his tweets.
@OntVetCollege: Keep an eye on OVC if you want to get the scoop on veterinary education. They share a great variety, including #ThrowbackThursday images from their historic past and journal articles from their professors. One of the most interesting things they’re doing is called The Externship Project, where they share blog posts from their veterinary students who are currently working as externs.
@CAPCvet: Follow this account to keep yourself and your clients up-to-date on preventing parasites. They share images, facts & articles about fleas, ticks & other parasites that can assist you in getting the word out about parasite prevention. Not only that, but on Mondays they share localized state and county facts, based on their website’s Parasite Prevalence maps.
@EntMagazine: Don’t get all worked up that this isn’t a veterinary-specific account! Let me explain: Entrepreneur magazine shares many useful articles regarding social media, finance & team-building. Whether you’re a veterinarian with little business background or a vet tech that has been promoted to management, this account has the education you need.
Megan Brashear, CT and VTS (ECC) @MeganAtDove
Megan is the Education Manager at Dove Lewis, a respected animal emergency and referral hospital in Oregon. If you love your veterinary technicians, you’ll be sure to turn them on to Megan’s pertinent advice including these Twitter handles:
@CliniciansBrief (and @VetTeamBrief): You know who they are, but they tweet links to interesting articles and often have gross photos of proptosed eyes that somehow I always see first thing in the morning!
@VetTechProblems: I love this for technicians. The author tweets common issues that all technicians can relate to and retweets common vetmed headaches.
@oregonvma (substitute your state VMA): Follow this to keep tabs on what’s happening within your state whether it be cute photos, animal abuse cases, practice act changes, etc. Get involved!!
@OnTheFloorDove: Of course I also recommend On The Floor… but I don’t want to be TOO self-serving.
About the Author
Dr. Caleb Frankel is an ER veterinarian, author, speaker, and entrepreneur. He currently divides his time between two roles: emergency veterinarian at VSEC, a 70-doctor referral hospital in Greater Philadelphia, PA (USA) and the founder of Instinct Science, a new animal health company helping the world’s state-of-the-art veterinary practices streamline their care through medically-driven invoicing and thoughtful automation.
He served as Director of New Product Development at Brief Media for 4 years where he lead the development and launch of products such as Plumb's Veterinary Drugs and New York Vet. Follow Dr. Frankel on Twitter @VMDtechnology.