#SGIM2011: Tweeting the Meeting: Why and How

Bob Centor over at MedRants and I have written this piece for the 2011 SGIM meeting.  We hope that you will follow the tweets &  attend the meeting.

As you read this, you likely are wondering what is this tweeting stuff.  Maybe, like some you want to avoid twitter, because you do not want people to always know where you are and what you are doing.  Twitter is a convenient useful way to gather and share information.  We both find that Twitter helps us stay aware of both medicine and other fields.  Neither of us tweets (proper verb to refer to send out a message) our location or whether we are washing our hair.

We both use twitter to become aware of data.  Since twitter messages have a 140-character limit, you really do not have to waste time reading too many long messages. 

Today, for example, Bob Centor received several tweets that looked like this:

RT @FutureDocs RT @Atul_Gawande In NYer how to control health costs. 5% of pop accounts for 60% costs http://nyr.kr/eHW5BH

 Several points here:

  1. RT stands for retweet (a rebroadcast)
  2. @FutureDocs is Vinny Arora’s Tweeting name and @Atul_Gawande is obvious. 
  3. This tweet alerted me to a new Atul Gawande post in the New Yorker.
  4. http://nyr.kr/eHW5BH represents a shortened form of the actual url of the article.  Twitter users use shortening programs to save characters.

We subscribe to other medical tweets, some business tweets, some political tweets and even sports tweets.  We both tweet frequently to give a quick “heads-up” to an article that we read.

So we encourage you to sign up for Twitter (it is free).  You need not ever tweet; feel free to just follow tweeters who provide useful information.  In particular we hope you will use Twitter to keep up with #SGIM2010 prior to and during the meeting:


  • Engage with other SGIM members – One of the main reasons to belong to a professional society is to network with like-minded colleagues, form collaborations and friendships to support your personal and professional goals.  Using Twitter, you’ll be able to identify others who are tweeting the meeting and even connect to them in person at the SGIM “TweetUp”.  (A TweetUp is a meeting organized through Twitter).
  • Spread the word about generalist topics to other stakeholders– In addition to connecting with SGIM members, it is important to educate and raise awareness about issues relevant to general internists to the broader community, especially during this polarizing and volatile debates about healthcare and medical training.  Twitter provides a platform to immediately broadcast this message to other stakeholders that could include patients, public, policymakers and others? . 
  • Stay up to date about meeting news  – Wondering about the latest news about the abstract deadline or when the Meet-the-Professor session you wanted to go is?   Using Twitter, you can follow @societygim for updates so that you are up to speed on the latest information to have a positive meeting experience.
  • Participate virtually, even if you don’t attend– While we hope to see you at the meeting, we know your professional or personal obligations may prohibit you from coming to the meeting in person.  As opposed to staying in the dark and waiting to hear from your friends and colleagues how the meeting went, why not follow the Twitter stream and engage with attendees who are there in real-time?   


  • Get a Twitter account – This is the first step.  If you are not sure whether you want to do this, you may find it helpful to see these Twitter tips and myths that originally appeared in SGIM Forum. 
  • Follow SGIM users – Start following SGIMers on Twitter, try @societygim @medrants @futuredocs @jgimeditor @jgimeditor1 @bradcrotty @MotherInMed @ewidera @AlexSmithMD @Bob_Wachter as a few examples.
  • Follow #SGIM2011 Hashtag – By searching under this hashtag, you can find out who is tweeting about the SGIM annual meeting to find new followers.  By indexing your tweets with this hashtag, other SGIMers will be able to locate your tweets to learn what you are up to.  (A hashtag always starts with #.  For this meeting we have chosen #SGIM2011.  You can search Twitter at anytime to just read #SGIM2011 tweets.
  • Attend SGIM Social Media sessions – This year, the annual meeting offers several offerings which aim to educate SGIM members about social media including a pre-course for medical educators to learn about wikis, a workshop on how to use social media to advance your career, and a town hall to contribute to the future of the SGIM communications strategy.
  • Come to the SGIM tweetup – The first annual SGIM TweetUp will take place on – well, we will announce the location and time on Twitter..  Come meet the Tweeters you follow and discuss the meeting and social media.

We hope to see you at #SGIM2011.  Start following the Tweets, and even join in if you want.



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