I’m writing this post in response to a plea for Twitter mentors from Jody Schoger, one of the moderators of the Breast Cancer Social Media (#bcsm) tweetchat. It takes place every Monday night at 9 p.m. Eastern time and has rapidly become one of the most popular tweetchats out there. Jody said there are quite a few lurkers out there who need some help getting started.
The first thing you should know is it’s common to feel intimidated by tweetchats and Twitter in general when you’re first getting started. I remember how scared I was the first time I attempted to join a conversation on Twitter. It’s like walking into a giant cocktail party where you don’t know anyone. I also remember how thrilled I was the first time someone I didn’t know started following me on Twitter. He’s a doctor who since deleted his account (at least that one–he could still be out there somewhere), but I will always remember how he made me feel welcome and would explain things like what YW means (you’re welcome). I gradually become comfortable out there and you will too.
The other thing you should know is that #bcsm is one of the fastest-paced chats out there. So if you’re thinking, Wow, I can’t keep up!, it’s not just you. I followed along with another popular healthcare tweetchat one night and it was positively sedate by comparison. #bcsm is definitely like drinking from a fire hose.
There are a couple of things you can do to keep up. One way is to use tweetchat. You can sign in with your Twitter account and it will scroll all the #bcsm tweets. You can set the refresh speed and you don’t have to enter the #bcsm hashtag with your tweet. Another way is to use tweetdeck and create a #bcsm column where only those tweets will show up. I typically use both because sometimes one or the other will cough up a hairball.
That’s the technology side if it, but how do you get over feeling shy? Start slow. Introduce yourself at the beginning of the chat. Mention why you’re here. If you’re feeling shy because it’s your first time on the forum, feel free to say that. If someone makes a comment you love, say so. !f you have a question, ask. If someone says something that reminds you of your own experience, share it. If you don’t agree, that’s okay too, just remember to be respectful. It’s a conversation just like the conversations you have offline (aside from the fire hose aspects).
Finally, remember, you are talking to people, like #bcsm’s moderators and hosts: From left, Dr. Deanna Attai (@DrAttai), a breast surgeon who helps #bcsm and the public at large make sense of technical medical issues and is a member of the American Society of Breast Surgeons. In the middle is three-time cancer survivor and moderator Alicia Staley (@stales), and on the right is writer/survivor/moderator Jody Schoger (@jodyms). They are three of the most welcoming people you could ever hope to chat with.
The topic varies every week and ranges from dealing with mets to what cancer does to relationships, to the “open mike night” scheduled for this coming Monday, March 18th. Please feel free to join in.