I have to be honest...when Twitter became really popular several years ago, I didn't get it. At all. Constant status updates? A character limit? What was so appealing about it?
When I realized that one of the requirements of our program was to tweet, I thought it would be a struggle. I started off slowly by just sharing what I was doing at my rotations. I figured if no one read my posts, I'd at least have something to look back on at the end of the program. As things got busier, I found myself tweeting more and more to keep up with everything that I was experiencing. Soon, I got the hang of using hash tags to connect with others and began posting pictures of me in action, in addition to sharing interesting nutrition articles that I found on the web. I gained followers that weren't just my (awesome) fellow interns and even had the CEO and co-founder of the tech tool that I presented reach out to me for future collaborative efforts after he saw several of my tweets.
There are tons of ways to make the most out of Twitter during the internship but here are a few things that helped me the most:
1. Using hash tags to reach a larger audience. You can tweet as often as you'd like but if no one is reading it, you're wasting your time. Hash tags like #rd2be, #rdchat, and #nutrition can connect you to dietitians and dietetic interns. If you're at a conference or event, a great way to be a part of the discussion is to use hash tags suggested by the event coordinator - for example, at DCMADA, we were asked to use #DCMADA2014.
2. Tweeting on a regular basis. Unlike Facebook or other social media platforms where sharing too much can be a bad thing, you can post as often as you'd like on Twitter. Some weeks you may post more often than others but you don't want huge gaps in time when you aren't tweeting at all. Similar to blogging, you want to be consistent to make sure you are keeping your followers interested.
3. Interacting with other as much as possible. Don't be afraid to start a conversation or reply to a dietitian or other professional on Twitter if they post something interesting. If someone follows you, favorites a post, or retweets you, be sure to thank them - and return the favor by following back. You never know who will stumble across your Twitter after seeing your interactions on someone else's page.
4. Staying organized! It can be hard to keep up with all of your followers, and you may be interested in what some people have to say more than others. Creating lists can help you prioritize the tweets you want to check out, especially since some people tweet 20+ times per day. I put my fellow interns and people I met this year into a list called "Dietetic Internship" while dietitians I follow on Twitter fall under my "RDs/Nutrition Professionals" list, and my friends and family are added to "People I Know", etc.
Twitter has been a great platform for me to create an online presence and to connect with dietitians, dietetic interns, and health professionals from all over the country. In the beginning, I wasn't sure how social media could benefit me as an intern but I quickly realized that it was another way to market myself and to share my ideas and experiences.