Using Social Media


What’s a hashtag anyway? An easy guide to making the most of Twitter

Twitter – available online – is a fast, real-time way to put messages out to our existing ‘followers’ and to attract new ‘followers’. Tweets have a maximum of 140 characters but can include links to websites to allow content sharing.

It allows you to read the latest news about subjects which are work-related or which interest you. It’s like receiving a newspaper whose headlines you’ll always find interesting – discover news as it’s happening and learn more about topics that are important to you.

Twitter is free and BOMSS has a Twitter account which we use to network across the bariatric community and to engage new people in our work.

Our Twitter account is @bariatricBOMSS and we tweet regularly. Join us!

The first step: Create a Twitter account:

  1. Go to and look for the ‘sign up’ box, or go directly to
  2. Enter your full name, email address, and a password (of your choice).
  3. Click Sign up for Twitter.
  4. On the next page, select a username (usernames are unique identifiers on Twitter) – your own or otherwise. Twitter will tell you if the username you want is available.
  5. Double-check your name, email address, password and username.
  6. Click Create my account. You may be asked to input some figures which appear on the screen or similar – this helps Twitter avoid spam.
  7. Twitter will send a confirmation email to the address you entered on sign-up. Click the link in that email to confirm your email address and account.


Tweet : A message posted via Twitter containing 140 characters or less.

Retweet: Pass along someone’s Tweet by retweeting it. Just hit the Retweet button to send the original message to all of your followers.

A hashtag (#) is a way to organise your Tweets around a specific topic. Just put a # in front of a phrase to help people search for your Tweet and join in the conversation. Click on hashtags to see similarly-themed Tweets.

Message (or DM): A direct message (DM) is a private message that only you and the recipient can see. To DM someone, start your Tweet with DM or D, eg “DM @joesmith21 let’s talk”

@reply: An @reply is a Tweet posted in reply to another user’s message. This is usually done by clicking the “reply” button in their Tweet. @replies always begin with the “@” symbol, followed by the username.

Timeline: A list of real-time Tweets from the users you are following.

Follow, Follower and Unfollow: To follow someone on Twitter is to subscribe and receive their Tweets in your timeline. A follower is another Twitter user who has followed you. To stop following another Twitter user is to ‘unfollow’ them. Once you do this, their Tweets no longer show up in your timeline.

Making the most of Twitter

Tweet in a pleasant conversational tone. Strive for an approachable communication style and avoid jargon.

Ask questions. Tweets ending with a “?” typically get higher engagement than those without.

Employ a call to action. Make it clear what you want your audience to do and why. Ask them to call, click or share.

Make it shareable. Use helpful, newsworthy or inspiring content. When you write a Tweet, imagine how your followers will use it. How will it help them? Every Tweet should have a purpose.

Be a follower. Look for businesses you love, public service accounts, people you know or news sources you read. One way to find interesting accounts is check who those you know or admire are following.

Find interesting accounts. Click ‘Discover’ at the top of your Twitter page. You can then find and follow other accounts in four ways:
1) browse accounts by category,
2) browse accounts that Twitter suggests  might be of interest to you
3) import your address book contacts to find out which friends are already on Twitter,
4) search one by one for people or groups of interest.

On the go: Twitter is portable. Connect your account to your mobile phone or download a Twitter application to begin reading Tweets on the go. Using Twitter via SMS allows you to pick and choose which updates you want from those you follow, so you can get mobile updates from the accounts that matter most when you are on the go.


What’s the best way to engage your followers?

Ask questions. Listen. Then show people you’re listening by responding.

Watch the clock. Twitter happens in real time so there’s plenty of opportunity to guide conversations when they are most relevant to users. Keep your messages timely by tweeting relevant Tweets during events or breaking news.

Create Tweets that resonate. Combine exciting, useful content with an engaging, unique tone to emotionally connect with your audience. Include links, pictures and videos.

Build your voice. Use existing information (other people’s Tweets) on Twitter to find your own voice and show others what you care about. Retweet messages you’ve found and love, or @reply with your reaction to a Tweet you find interesting. Tip: If you’re a new user, others are more likely to find your messages if they are Retweets or @replies.

2Connect with others. Once you’re ready to begin authoring your own messages, consider mentioning other users by their Twitter username (preceded by the @ sign) in your Tweets. This will draw more eyes to your message and can even start a new conversation.


Linked in to what? A guide to using LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a website which allows you to list your contacts, see who they know, and then see who you’re connected to in turn. It’s focused on business users, so can be more professionally useful than other applications such as Facebook – and generally doesn’t eat up nearly as much of your time.

LinkedIn is free and BOMSS has a LinkedIn account which we use to help network across the bariatric community and to engage people in our work.

If you join LinkedIn to access the BOMSS content it makes sense to make the most of it for yourself. So here’s how to use LinkedIn to your advantage.

Find us at and search for BOMSS.

The first step: Create a LinkedIn account:

1. Go to LinkedIn at If you want to learn more, click on the “What is LinkedIn?” option on the menu across the top of the page. If not, go ahead and sign up by entering you name, email and a password in the “Join LinkedIn Today” box on the right of the screen.

2. Confirm your account through your email address. Once you’ve done this, simply sign in and get started.

How to use LinkedIn

Firstly – make sure you’ve got a good profile.  Think about how you want the world to see you – search engines will pick up your LinkedIn page. Spend some time on your profile to ensure that it is up to date and says the right things about you.

Then, invite people to join your network. LinkedIn makes this easy, for example, you can import your address book from Outlook and send people invitations.

Getting a good profile

    • Use a photo – and make it a good one. LinkedIn is a networking tool – and networking needs trust. So we need to see your face.
    • Say where you work and describe your job accurately.
    • Include your CV. If you have a good career history it helps people to take you more seriously.
    • If you have a website, include the address. Mostly when people find you on LinkedIn, this will be their next click. You can include three website addresses, a Twitter page, Google+ and a blog.
    • Your unique LinkedIn URL – You can customise the link that comes at the bottom of the main box describing you, to make it shorter and unique to you. This will encourage people to cut and paste it to others, you can include it in your email signature line, and it’s less confusing to people if it doesn’t have lots of numbers in it. Go to ‘edit your profile’ and the box for this is on the right hand side of the editing page, second box down.
    • Recommendations – get some. Ask clients, ex-bosses and colleagues to recommend you. Feel free to suggest (or write for them) what you’d like to be known for to avoid vague references.

Finding the right people

Many business opportunities come through networking, so you need to make sure that your network is as wide as you can make it – and one of the best ways of doing this is by getting involved again with people you’ve already had a connection with in the past.

You can use LinkedIn to find out who the other people in your network know.  This might come in helpful if you need an introduction or some background knowledge. For example, you may have a meeting with someone new – look them up on LinkedIn and see if you know someone in common who you can get in touch with and get some background information. They may even be able to recommend you.

Top tips for using LinkedIn

Here are some rules for using LinkedIn:

  • Only invite people that you’re met or you know – if you send out random invitations you’ll only end up annoying people and getting a bad reputation
  • Don’t treat it as a point scoring exercise – it’s better to have 30 good contacts, rather than 100s of people that you don’t really know.
  • When you meet someone for the first time, send them an invitation to join you on LinkedIn. It’s a good way to say that you enjoyed meeting them.
  • Don’t include really personal or wacky stuff on your profile – people who see your profile need to want to do business with you. Don’t give people an unwanted look into your personal life or say anything that could be considered unprofessional.
  • Periodically update your profile
  • Periodically spend time finding and inviting people to join your network.
  • Consider joining some of the groups hosted by members of LinkedIn that focus on areas of your interest. You can meet a lot of relevant new people through this, as well as share ideas, comments and hold online events together.