How You Can Trend on Twitter
The American Public Health Association has it figured out.
The 25,000-member group holds an annual Twitter chat during National Public Health Week that’s progressively grown in tweets. Getting 1,100 people tweeting on public health issues for 90 minutes on one day a year on big issues like smoking prevention and better nutrition gives APHA a big visibility boost. Spokesman Daniel Greenberg says APHA spent months inviting its own members to participate along with health reporters, Aetna execs, and officials from the US Surgeon General’s office.
If you’ve never been part of a Twitter chat, here’s how it goes: People are invited to get on Twitter on a certain day and time and told to follow a certain hashtag. The host poses questions and people can answer, all using the specified hashtag. Daniel says the association tries to ask broad questions so anyone with an interest in health can participate and retweets or favorites the better responses. When the discussion gets up to 5,400 tweets as it did for APHA’s annual Twitter chat this year, the hashtag starts “trending,” getting even more attention.
After four years of annual Twitter chats, Daniel offers tips for running it smoothly: Make the conversation appeal to a broad audience. APHA not only invited its core members to its last Twitter chat but also many others interested in health care. (This photo was posted at the time by the CNN Health team showing how they use stand-up desks to stay healthy.) Promote the event early and often, so people pull in others from their networks. Make the conversation lively so more will want to join. And have a team in place to monitor the conversation, look for tweets, and control spam on the day of the chat.