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That’s off Topic

September 6, 2015

By Pat Rich (@cmaer)

headshot Pat Rich

Pat Rich

Periodically, #hcsmca’s stream is swamped with tweets by members of an advocacy group supporting a certain position in health, e.g., merits of medical marijuana or petitions for a special interest group. These tweets cannot be characterized as spam or as trolling because they often voice a legitimate perspective on important issues.

However, the tweets are often not relevant to the hashtag’s purpose or particular to the chat topic under discussion at the time.

The situation also arises with medical conference and health meeting hashtags. The hashtag stream is overtaken by promotional materials or invitations to retweet a corporate name to enter a contest. Is this sage marketing to a targeted and captive audience? Or do such tweets turn away potential clients? They certainly detract from the educational intent of the hashtag.

And it’s not just hashtags. Medical and health care twitter accounts are regularly besieged by advocacy groups who feel the particular organization and its members or followers need to know ‘the truth’ about health topics such the health hazards of vaccination or the benefits of vaping.

Sept9-15 That's off Topic

While advocacy groups may be tempted to use established healthcare hashtag communities and twitter accounts to amplify their message, is it a smart way to reach people who care about health care? To regular users of the hashtag, such postings can be annoying and distracting.

On Wednesday, September 9th at 1pm ET (time zone converter), let’s discuss:

  • T1:  Is it legitimate to use an established health hashtag to advocate for an issue unrelated to the hashtag?
  • T2: How should regular users to the hashtag respond to off topic batch messages?
  • T3: If you get aggressive rebuttals from the advocates, how should you act?
  • T4: Let’s model good behaviour. What types of posts do you share or want to see on #hcsmca during the week?

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