For the LVAD (Left Ventricle Assist Device) community, so many of us are spread all over, and in some areas there are only one or two people living with a LVAD, that unless we connect online, we are very isolated on information, support, and a simple community of people who are going through similar life experiences. There are several great pages on Facebook, but unless you are on Facebook and searching for these groups and pages, you might never connect to some wonderful people and information. Most of these groups are closed to the general public, so information about LVADs stays in those groups, which is good for those of us seeking that privacy, but bad for the many other people who should know about the devices, and how these devices impact the daily lives of the people who have the device implanted and those who may be looking into these devices as a solution for themselves.
So a few of us have started encouraging the LVAD community to spread out online to other social media channels. Many of us are blogging (or getting started blogging). Many of us are on Pinterest and YouTube, and quite a few of us are on Twitter. We want to use all the potential communication tools out there, so we are formally launching LVAD Tweetchat on Sunday and Wednesday nights from 9pm-10pm EST. What that means is that we are establishing an open chat on Twitter that can be followed or tracked by using the hashtag (keyword) #LVAD.
Twitter (www.twitter.com) is a social media platform that allows users to Tweet (post a thought, sentence, link, etc) in a mobile friendly format (140 characters or less) that can be accessed both through computers and mobile phones. Twitter is available on Mobile platforms for many devices including Apple, Android, and Blackberry. usually you can download a mobile application (app) for your phone if you plan on using Twitter from your phone instead of your PC.
Here are the basic steps for creating an account on Twitter:
- Sign up for a free Twitter account and create your user name (if you are on many social media platforms, you probably want to use the same name across all the channels like LVADone, JasonsLVAD, MrChristopherL, etc.
- Develop a bio (160 characters) for your profile that inspires people to follow your Tweets.
- Make sure you include your website or blog link in the space provided on your profile.
- Upload an avatar (icon or photo) then set up a custom background with of your choice. You can use a free service like Picnik (or others) to create your background as well.
Here’s a few tips on how to engage in conversation:
- Do not use Twitter only to talk about work, etc. Definitely do some promotional tweets (announcements, links to your website or blog posts, etc.) sparingly in between other tweets such as: comments on other tweets; answers to questions; retweets (forwards) of others’ tweets; useful links; inspirational quotes or interesting trivia; or posing questions.
- As you only have 140 characters, brush up on a few of the texting shorthand words, characters, and phrases. For example 2=too,to,two – gr8=great, and so on.
- Use URL shorteners so that the links you tweet don’t take up your whole 140 characters.
- Monitor your account regularly, you may have new followers who may drop off if not included or responded to.
Dabble a bit to get used to the format. It may seem a bit like a torrent of communication, but you will soon learn to filter the conversations you want to follow and join in. The way to do a formal chat, is to save enough characters at the end of your tweet to allow you to add the hashtag (keyword) for the chat. In our case we will use #LVAD for our chat. The # sign indicates to the general world that you are discussing something that pertains to that keyword. On the Twitter website you can use the search bar at the top and type in that hashtag (keyword) in order to follow the conversation that is happening, whether or not you are following all of the people involved or not.
Our hopes for LVAD Tweetchat is to help us reach not only new members of our community of users of the devices, but to also connect with and provide resources and information to the caregivers, family, and friends of those with LVADs and to hopefully connect with and interact with the many great healthcare and research people involved with LVADs. We know that many Nurses, Doctors, etc. have also been reaching out for more info as the LVAD becomes a more widely utilized device to aid patients looking to treat their heart conditions either as a bridge to transplant or for those that may be looking for treatment but are unable to receive a transplant, or are not seeking a transplant, as the LVAD is proving to be a tool to assist many patients to their life’s destination.
We will (possibly) be hosting copies of the conversations over on the MyLVAD community website (www.mylvad.com) starting soon or we might build a blogsite so we can post a claendar of topics ahead of time to allow people to schedule their attendance in advance so you might be able to preview a few of the chats before joining them!
Please join us on Twitter on Sundays & Wednesdays from 9pm-10pm EST. We’d love to have you participate!