Ask any social media enthusiast to describe the value of social networking, and you will undoubtedly receive some variation of the following: Social media allows me to easily follow the latest news, converse with others about shared interests, and grow a virtual and face-to-face network. The most important thing for new users of social media to understand is that all forms of social networking—from Twitter to Facebook to YouTube—are only as valuable as the members of your social network. In other words, if you do not share common interests with the members of your online community, social networking will quickly become irrelevant and of little value. It’s about the relationships, not necessarily the technology.
How Do You Find Your Ideal Social Networks?
An easy way to start building your online rheumatology network is to follow the newly launched official ACR Twitter account—www.twitter.com/ACRheum—and connect with the members of the ACR’s social network. Following the ACR on Twitter will connect you to other rheumatology-related people and organizations and help you stay up to date with news and information about the ACR and the annual meeting. You’ll also have a chance to read about and participate in conversations among others regarding the ACR and other rheumatology-related issues.
Tips to Build Your Online Network
Start building your online network and relationships prior to arriving in Atlanta for the 2010 Annual Scientific Meeting with Twitter’s search tool, www.search.twitter.com. The number sign, or hashtag (#), is used on Twitter to identify the writer’s subject matter so it can be indexed and accessed in other users’ feeds. Tweets about the 2010 annual meeting should contain the official conference hashtag, #ACR2010.
A search on Twitter for the term #ACR2010, or more common terms with a hashtag (e.g., #rheumatology or #lupus) will display recent tweets that reference the annual meeting or other rheumatology-specific topics. Such a search may also introduce you to more people who share your interests. You can quickly determine if a user is of interest and value to your social network by visiting their profile and glancing at their 160-character bio and the last couple of tweets they posted.
If the idea of signing up for and having to regularly visit multiple social media accounts is daunting, there are tools to help you. If you want to easily connect and check in with your online network across multiple social networking platforms (e.g., Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube), try the free and easy-to-use online service, FriendFeed, at www.friendfeed.com. FriendFeed is an aggregator that allows you to post to, search, and customize the updates you receive from several popular social networks. You can keep up with the ACR’s latest YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr updates by connecting with the ACR on FriendFeed at www.friendfeed.com/amercollrheumatology. (Note: The ACR does not warrant or endorse this or any other commercial product or service.)