The big buzz phrase currently swirling around in both social and professional circles is “social media”, a type of electronic communication whereby users create online communities for purposes of sharing information, ideas, personal messages, pictures, links to websites, and other content. It comes in many forms including social networks (e.g. Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn), blogs (like this one!), forums (AAA’s ListServe), content communities (YouTube, Flickr), and the like. Social media is not a fad; it represents a new form of information production and distribution that will, if it hasn’t already, impact the field of Audiology.
One of the fastest growing forms of social media is Twitter, a free, on-line service for friends and colleagues to connect, communicate, and stay in touch via very short, quick messages of less than 140 characters long called “tweets”. It is a very effective way for audiologists to keep up-to-date with ongoing information and activity throughout the hearing industry without having to sift through a lot of posted information. Bare in mind, the effectiveness of Twitter will certainly be contingent on who users decide to follow; as with any form of social media, some sources post great information, others post irrelevant and/or bad information, whereas others post way too much information (becoming annoying) or others just seem to the post the same stuff over and over and over again. Nevertheless, as a Twitter user, information can be controlled by following what may be considered relevant sources knowing that any annoying, irrelevant, or boring Tweeters can be unfollowed at any time!
For those unfamiliar, indifferent, and/or intimidated by Twitter, I encourage you to go to www.twitter.com and set up a Twitter account. Once the account is set up, search for hearing industry Tweeters by name (i.e. A.U. Bankaitis) or user name (i.e. @aubankaitis) to follow. Following someone means you are subscribing to receive their Twitter updates; every time they post a new message, it will appear on your Twitter home page. Here are a few Tweeters that I follow that may serve as great starting points for new accounts:
1. AudiologyOnline (@audiologyonline) for up-to-date information on on-line CEUs, news, and jobs for audiologists
2. Lana M. Joseph (@TheAuD2BeBlog) is a great resource for AuD students as well as seasoned audiologists
3. Audiology Forum (@audiologyforum) a new on-line community for audiologists to exchange ideas and information created by AuD students
3. Juliette Sterkens (@LoopWisconsin), a hearing loop advocate
4. Get Audiology Jobs (@GetAudiologyJobs), an Audiology job and career site
5. A.U. Bankaitis (@aubankaitis) for general hearing industry news, etc. (remember, you can always unfollow me if I bore or annoy you!)
The first step in using social media to your practice’s advantage is to get familiar with it by learning to use it! Give it a try; if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to get in touch and I will share whatever Twitter knowledge I may have! I encourage my readers to post their Twitter handles in the comments section of my blog as well as suggestions for other Tweeters to follow. After all, this is just another way for us to communicate and share opinions on content in real-time. Happy Tweeting!