March 2016

Small changes can make a big difference...

...when your medium is 140 characters and maybe a picture. These tips can help you make every character of every tweet count.

Tailor Content

Hospitals have a broad potential audience: everyone. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to develop a single stream of content that everyone engages with.

A small stable of carefully defined accounts allows you to tailor content, creating high value—and stickiness—for key audiences. Boston Children’s has five Twitter accounts, and they’re already in the narrowly defined market of pediatrics. Audiences with particular interests and needs are easier to generate content for too.


Women on Twitter want more than information. More than 70 percent come for something hopeful or inspirational. And they check in often. Almost 70 percent say they look at Twitter at least once a day.

When you think inspirational, think broad. Patient success stories are good, but hope comes in many packages. Inspirational quotations are a perennial favorite. Tweets with quotations are retweeted 20 percent more than those without. Sharing good thoughts builds your brand too.

Keep It Short

You want people to retweet. Often people want to add a note of their own. Keeping your tweets to 100 characters or so is a great practice. Boil down your message. Use fewer hashtags. People are also more likely to read short tweets, which also increases your retweet rate.

Engage With Pictures

Photos are retweeted a third more often. Videos are nearly as popular. But they need to capture people’s attention. illustrates the majority of their tweets with professional-quality photographs to illustrate their message. Even their hospital and event photography is a cut above the snapshots you see so often.

You can go too far, though. Too many images can be overwhelming. One social media company decided 70/30 is a good ratio.

  • Pile on hashtags. A blizzard of hashtags turns people off. A 2012 Carnegie Mellon study concluded that people want tweets to be content, not grabs for clicks by people who aren’t already following.
  • Tweet obvious, often-stated tips. Users say these are boring, and they reflect badly on you. Dig for fresher content. Mine past SME interviews for nuggets you haven’t heard before or that have a fresh twist.
  • Direct message people who didn’t DM you. DMs from an organization, rather than a person, can feel creepy. Get someone’s attention with a shout out (@TwitterHandle), but wait for them to DM you before sending them a private message.
  • Link only to your own content. Unless you’re truly a thought leader, Touting your own content too often looks like blatant marketing. Be a valued source. Retweet and link a broader range of content than you can supply on your own.
  • Retweet too much “brand name” healthcare content. People following you may already follow Cleveland Clinic or the Mayo Clinic. Try lesser known sources ( or health sources that aren’t specifically healthcare (Women’s Health Magazine)
Featured Recipe

Baba Ganouj

Everybody knows about hummus, but this Middle Eastern dip with roasted eggplant, tahini (sesame butter) and lemon juice is yummier.


Eggplants vary in size, so you’re going to have to adjust things at the end. Just know that. It’s easy, though. You’ll get it the first try. I recommend an immersible blender, but you can use a regular blender too.

Wedges of pita go well with baba ganouj. People also like dipping vegetables in it.

1 Large eggplant (eight inches or so)
3 Garlic cloves
1/2 cup Tahini
3 Lemons (keep the third on hand, as you’ll see below)
1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
1 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Black pepper (use less if you like)
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Split the eggplant.
Crush and mince the garlic.
Juice two lemons, reserving the third.
Lay the eggplant face down on a baking sheet.
Bake 25-35 minutes. When the eggplant yields easily to a fork, it’s ready.
Scoop the eggplant from the skin.
Blend the eggplant, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, Liquid Smoke, salt and pepper until creamy.
Taste and adjust the lemon juice and Liquid Smoke. Adjust the tahini if needed.

Aim for lemony tang (not strong lemon flavor) and mildly smoky undertone. For really big eggplants, add tahini a tablespoon at a time.

Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
Leave baba ganouj out and refrigerate it at the end of the day.
    It doesn’t go bad quickly.
Warm refrigerated baba ganouj in the microwave before serving.
Refrigerate any leftovers in plenty of broth.
Reheat in broth. This dish reheats very well.