Building your Twitter presence: Here are tips from RNAO

Social media plays a central role in addressing the pandemic and related issues, including social and environmental determinants of health and assuring health for all. RNAO is committed to building a positive and forceful media presence. We have addressed vaccine hesitancy and the role of social media and expressed concern about the harms of disinformation.

RNAO is now issuing a call for action to engage members and followers in extensive use of social media, in particular Twitter. Twitter is the most effective social media platform to influence journalists, politicians and decision-makers. The following article, prepared by RNAO’s communications team, provides tips and guidance that help build your Twitter presence.

It’s vital for nurses to be active and vocal on social media, especially Twitter, to drive change and facilitate discussion on topics related to nursing, health, and health care.

RNAO has consistently grown its social media presence over the past few years, knowing that when used strategically and effectively, it can amplify nurses’ voices and mobilize action on key advocacy areas. In the past year alone, RNAO’s social following grew 45% on Instagram, 11% on Twitter and 5% on Facebook due to active engagement and strategic messaging. The main purpose of social media is to inform, engage and inspire followers, and there are many ways to do so effectively.

GOALS: Your goals for using social media are fluid and can change as your following and engagement grow. Some of RNAO’s social media goals that you can take and use for your own usage include:

  • Establishing and maintaining our voice
  • Keeping members up-to-date on key happenings (i.e. events, nursing and health news)
  • Sparking interest among key audiences
  • Engaging with members & with the communities in which we exist
  • Reinforcing RNAO's mission, vision & values
  • Driving traffic to other RNAO resources (i.e. website, documents)

We want to emphasize the words “audiences” and “community” because these are integral to your understanding of social media strategy.

Every social media user has audiences – the groups of people that follow you and engage with your content. For example, RNAO’s many audiences include its members, journalists, politicians, partner organizations, public health units, members of the public and academic institutions to name a few. It’s important to identify your audiences and keep them in mind whenever you post to ensure your posts are meaningful and speaking to the correct group(s).

RNAO is also active within many communities on social media, both locally and internationally. Its communities are nursing and health care, so it’s important to be part of those conversations by listening and responding to ensure its voice is heard among the other “noise” on social media. Being active on social media doesn’t mean logging in and posting once, then logging off. It means constantly monitoring what your communities are discussing and engaging, when necessary, by liking, responding, retweeting or using relevant hashtags.

Before you build your social media audience, you must first build your account. If you’re looking to create a Twitter account, or if you want to improve your current account, here are a couple of tips to consider:

  • Updated profile photo: Choose a profile photo that best represents who you are. Although most personal Twitter users opt to have their own face as the profile photo, it doesn’t have to be. It can also be a symbol or a graphic.
  • Relevant bio: Ensure that your bio is to date and provides other Twitter users with a quick snapshot of who you are. Your bio can include your occupation, relevant hashtags, your hobbies, etc. You may want to consider including “Tweets are my own” in your bio. This is a way to separate your personal thoughts and opinions from an organization you may work for. 
  • Appropriate Twitter name & handle: Your Twitter handle is one of the first aspects that other users will see on their Twitter feed. Ensure that the name you choose for your Twitter name fits you and what you represent.
  • Follow other users: Following like-minded Twitter users will build your audience and help you find the topics that are trending within nursing and health care.

So, you have an account, now what? Here are some key tips on how to be effective:

  • 80/20 rule: 80% of your posts should be about the communities in which you exist and building others up, and 20% should be self-promotion. Find the balance that works best for your own goals.
  • Multimedia elements: Incorporate photos, videos, links, hashtags in your posts to maximize their reach and spark interest among your diverse following
  • Constant monitoring (listen & respond)
  • Stay informed and share factual & credible information
  • Quality over quantity: Include multimedia elements, credible information and clear messaging to ensure your post is as effective as possible and doesn’t strictly add to the noise on social
  • Be familiar with the social platform: Adapt your messaging for whichever social media platform you’re posting to (i.e., on Instagram, lead with visuals)

What of these tips boil down to are the following three questions:

  1. What does your audience want to know?
  2. In what ways can you inform them?
  3. What do you want them to do after receiving the information?

Addressing these three questions before posting will help to ensure your posts are as meaningful and effective as possible to maximize your posts’ reach and amplify your voice in the communities in which you exist. #NursesVoicesMatter

We hope you enjoy your posting and invite you to send us addition tips to Rene Dunkley <>