For some reason there’s never really been a good Twitter hashtag for travel medicine related topics. The # symbol is used to mark keywords or topics in a tweet to categorise messages and increase the amount of people reading the message. I’m glad things have now changed. In January 2011 Sarah Kohl (@TravelReadyMD) created the #tvlmed hashtag and registered with the healthcare hashtag project (@foxpractice). Her reason to initiate #tvlmed was to promote travel medicine: via the new hashtag, travel doctors, nurses, travellers and anyone interested in travel health can share their news, information & tips. The #tvlmed Travel Medicine Daily will bundle all links and articles shared. See: http://t.co/FZyCBM4 Follow @tvlmed for daily retweets about travel medicine around the globe. We’re looking for travel medicine tweeps to participate. Just mention #tvlmed anywhere in your tweet.
A common mistake some travel clinics make is to send out a stream of tweets about their services. It took me a while to figure out that the most successful people on Twitter don’t just tweet their own material. They manage to be consistently valuable because the majority of their tweets are retweets from others. Twitter is all about sharing information and most people love seeing their message re-tweeted. Take some time to listen to what others have to say and tweet about the gems you find. Social media is not about advertising. It’s about giving and sharing ideas and information.
If I would tell someone to stop smoking, be more active, or lose weight, I already know that my words will have little effect. It takes more to change behaviour. Yet, we seem to be doing this a lot in travel medicine. Be honest: how many times have you posted a tweet or Facebook message urging people to get their travel shots? It’s not working and may result in less followers. People are following you because they know you have something to say, not because they want to be told what to do. Instead you may want to tweet about e.g. useful tips & tricks you know to stay healthy abroad, the latest travel health news or pros & cons of vaccinations.