These days, many patient groups are turning to Twitter as their primary social media platform. As Twitter is a popular source of news and advocacy – allowing its users to communicate with political officials more easily – it is a great way of spreading awareness.

However, using Twitter and using Twitter effectively are two different things. If you want to properly use Twitter to spread awareness of your organization, you want to make sure you are using best practices for this social media platform.  With that in mind, here are five tips for patient groups to get the most out of Twitter.

Follow the Leaders 

Like any other skill, when first using Twitter it is good to look at those who are successful. Find organizations related to yours who have a substantial following on Twitter and learn from them. Learn what they are posting about, how frequently they are posting, and the accounts that they follow. Integrate these practices into your own Twitter. Then, follow these organizations and some of the accounts they follow. This will not only let you see what related organizations are posting about, but it is also a good way of social networking.

Also, be sure to follow and interact with people in your area of interest that have a lot of followers. In the patient advocacy space, following people like Andre Picard (@picardonhealth), Dave Proctor (@runproctor) SickKids (@sickkids), or Timothy Caulfield (@caulfieldtim) can allow your organizations to be introduced to thousands of new people and organizations.

Stay Current

For many, Twitter is a news source. As such, you want to continually update your audience. What is considered current will change hourly so making sure to post as soon as possible is crucial. This means posting just as much on the weekends as during the week. It is also important to remember to post about social issues related to your cause just as much as you post about new research. Having a wide spread of information will entice people with various interests, leading to a larger following. With that said, you should not post simply to post; the information you share should reflect what is important to your audience.

Remember your Mission

As stated previously, you should not post simply to post. Rather, be intentional and efficient with the information you share. Posting constantly but inefficiently will make your audience less likely to see individual posts as important. A good way to make sure you are posting intentionally is to make sure your posts fit with the specific goals of your non-profit. Your audience is more likely to interact if your content seems organized.

Keep Things Casual

Twitter is a fairly informal platform even though there is plenty of objective content available. Therefore, if there is a meme or gif that relates to your cause or matches your content, feel free to post it. This may actually be a more effective way of communicating with your audience given the restricted number of characters allowed in a tweet.

Make It Personal

Non-profits are often created out of passion. This is the reason Twitter is often very useful for non-profits. As previously mentioned, Twitter is a fairly casual platform. Use this to your advantage by personalizing your content. For example, you might consider posting videos featuring yourself, your staff, or your volunteers. You might also consider sharing your motivation behind your cause. At the end of the day, your audience will respond better if they can get a sense of you as a person.

With these tips, patient groups can gain a lot from Twitter as a platform. However, an organization’s success on Twitter is tied to the amount of effort given to it so continue to learn from other organizations. If you do, you will eventually find unique ways of making Twitter work best for you.