Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists

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Why and How to Engage in a Twitter Chat

Dec 14, 2017

Engaging in a Twitter chat is fun and a great way to learn about the Diabetes Online Community or #DOC, as well as how both people with diabetes and those affected by diabetes and healthcare providers are engaging and learning via social media. One I’ve participated in is the Diabetes Social Media Advocacy chat on Wednesday evenings throughout the year from 9-10 p.m. ET. This chat uses the hashtag: #DSMA. It was created and is hosted by Cherise Shockley, a leader in an online peer support community (PSC). The steps below use this chat and its hashtag as an example. 

Here are some easy instructions on how to join in (lurk and learn)!

  1. Know the chat's hashtag, the handle of the organizer and people who are engaged and chatting. 
    • Hashtag: #DSMA
    • DSMA twitter handle: @DiabetesSocMed
  2. Log in to Twitter just before the time the chat starts
  3. On the top right, in the “Search Twitter” bar, enter the hashtag for the chat and hit enter, or click on the magnifying glass to search. Ex: #DSMA
  4. After the page loads, you will see a tool bar on the left that says “Top, Latest, People, Photos,” etc.


  1. I typically click on “latest” to see the most recent posts.
  2. When the Twitter chat starts, the moderator typically asks people to introduce themselves so everyone involved knows who is participating, but feel free to simply lurk and learn. Below is my intro:
    • Hi I’m @DebGreenwood, Researcher, CDE, digital health consultant & #PSC enthusiast @DiabetesSocMed #DSMA
  3. Then the leader will start asking questions, for example:
    • Q5. What is your one key takeaway from #NDAM 2017? #dsma
    • Then you will see answers. Use A1, A2, etc. when you answer questions, so people can follow the threads.
      • Ex: A5: Language use is so important! It can shape the way a person thinks about themselves, which can affect their management of #diabetes #DSMA

DSMA chat screenshots

  1. Make sure to use the hashtag in all Tweets. For this chat, that means #DSMA is in every tweet.
  2. If you have room, you can also “tag” other people so they see your Tweet by typing in their Twitter handle. This is also called a “mention.” Sometimes you might tag other people who are not participating to try to get them to participate. Sometimes you might tag other people who are in the Tweet chat. You can also use other hashtags.
  3. When you see answers you like from other people, then you can retweet or “quote” their tweet and add your own comments.
  4. Twitter chats go pretty fast, so it is hard to read everything.
  5. Multiple times during the hour I “refresh” the “latest” tweet button so I can read what others are tweeting. I like to reply to other people so we have a dialog online. Engaging with a group of people is great.
  6. I sometimes use Hootsuite, a social media platform where you can have multiple streams showing at one time. When you have more than one stream open, you can follow your normal twitter feed in one and then the specific hashtag in another.
  7. Lurking is perfectly acceptable! When you lurk, you just follow the hashtag and read what is Tweeted to learn, but not participate. Sometimes that is the best way to start.
  8. Have fun!

head shot UCDDeborah Greenwood is Chief Digital Research Officer-Diabetes for Mytonomy, a cloud-based microlearning video software solution and digital therapeutic. She is also President of Deborah Greenwood Consulting, specializing in diabetes and digital health. She has PhD in nursing science and healthcare leadership, is a CDE and a clinical nurse specialist, board certified in advanced diabetes management. Her interests include digital health, e-Patient engagement and social media for self-management support. She was AADE President in 2015.

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