I have a colleague who is always finding really interesting — and even crucial–articles on topics I care about and emailing me links, saying “did you see this?” Usually, I haven’t and I’m really grateful he alerted me to the piece. In response to a recent such email, I wrote back, “You should be on Twitter because you always come across such great stuff. You can share it with a lot more people than me.”
Before hitting “send” I thought I should check out whether he already did have a Twitter account ( before embarrassing myself by passing on advice to an experienced tweeter) and it turned out he did. He had opened an account a while ago but didn’t know how to get it going.
Clearly he’d given up quickly. No picture, no biography, 4 tweets, 10 followers (that’s actually pretty good, considering), following 15 people.
My friend said he appreciated the nudge and would try Twitter again. He asked me how to get followers. A good question, because he is a reliable, constant stream of great resources and ideas. This is a modified version of the advice I gave him. Same advice that’s in my how to kit but maybe in a more digestible form.
Dear my analyst friend who I hope will actively share your thoughts on Twitter,
It’s an interesting process, getting more followers. It’s sort of a “give and you will get” situation. You become a follower of others. Retweet or favorite or comment on their tweets. They will then look to see who you are, and follow you back if you look interesting to them (i.e. if you are either a colleague or seem to be saying interesting things.).
But, you have to make yourself more transparent and identifiable. Add a picture and a bio asap. Nobody will follow you unless you show who you are. Later, you can make your profile page a little more interesting but a picture and a bio are crucial from the start. “child psychoanalyst”would besufficient for a minimal bio, but of course you can say more.
Look at some of the other analysts I mention below for bio ideas. You do things like add pictures and change your biography from your Profile page. [click on the little face icon in the upper right corner of your home page. On the drop down menu click on “view profile”. Then click on “Edit Profile”.] There’s a crucial document in the help section of Twitter called “getting started” that tells you how to do these things.
Don’t make your account closed! The whole point is to share psychoanalytic ideas with the public. Just don’t say anything you don’t want a patient to read.
You want to follow a couple of hundred of people at least. All the analysts and analytic organizations you can. Then add some accounts that relate to your particular interests (foundations interested in early childhood mental health for example), pediatrician groups. Add psychiatric groups like APA, Menninger, Austen Riggs.
How do you find who to follow? Go to my page @pgourguechon from yours. Or any other analyst who is into Twitter. Then click on “following” to see who I am following. Or who the people I am following are following. Follow all that are colleagues or otherwise interesting. Start especially with Chris Heath, Marie Rudden and William Massicotte. Also Jorge Bruce. They are all active tweeting analysts. Of course APsaA and the IPA.
Another way to find people or groups is to put them in the Twitter search box. e.g. American Pediatrics Association. That will give you their twitter handle and you can immediately follow. Follow people you disagree with too!
Then post when you feel like it. Once or twice a week is good. Retweeting is crucial to building a following and the easiest. People like it when you retweet their tweets and it makes them kindly disposed to follow you.
Soon your follower list will creep up. After a couple of years, I’m trying to break 300. It’s a little mysterious, but you just keep plugging away. A young analyst from Brazil at the IPA meeting has 5000+ followers, and just shrugged when we asked her how she got there. Jorge Bruce from Peru has 85,000! He has a very public presence, sort of like Oliver Sachs here.
I happen to have just written a how to guide for Twitter for the IPA–it’s available here and gives a little more information.
You have a lot to say and Twitter is a wonderful way to say it. One more thing–I also use Twitter as an record of things I’ve run across that I want to be able to get back to. Articles, blog posts, organizations etc. So my own tweets are an archive of people and ideas I am interested in.