Social media has made the spread of information lightening fast.
One of the most interactive and helpful social media Websites is Twitter, a microblogging service that lets you make frequent 140 character updates.
As an avid Tweeter myself, I have found quite the handful of useful tools to navigate the Twitterspace. Some of these tools can be used to stay abreast of pertinent health information.
Tip #1 is the hashtag (#). The hashtag lets someone follow a conversation or relate his or her tweet (a.k.a. message) to a topic.
Take a look at one of PKIDs’ tweets:
In the post, there are multiple hashtags (#cellphones, #germ, #health) that, when typed into Twitter’s search box, will allow you to follow the current trends on that subject.
View what the search box looks like below. It’s also featured on the bottom right side of your Twitter profile page (or look at http://twitter.com/pkids).
The search function also shows recent hot topics and allows you to search for topics you’re interested, i.e. #health for health information.
So, why use the hashtag?
Not every hashtag has a conversation attached, but the # attached to a word allows Twitter users to tag relevant posts so others can find them, even if you aren’t following their posts on Twitter. Hashtags before a specific word, like #health, also help exclude irrelevant posts like “I am a health freak,” which wouldn’t teach you much.
There are also Twitter-independent tools you can use to follow health information on Twitter, without getting a Twitter account. TweetDeck and Search.Twitter.com are two that are easy and free to use.
And remember, as with all information on the Web, not all of it is credible. Consult your doctor before acting on any health advice from a third party.
Stay tuned next week for another tip on social media and your health.