NIH Twitter Chats: Collaborations Multiply Successes

In helping support the social media team at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), we have been hosting monthly Twitter Chats since March 2012. The topics of these chats have covered a wide variety of complementary health approaches including:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Acupuncture
  • Dietary supplements

Over the past six months, our Twitter Chat program has evolved to include partnerships with other NIH Institutes and Centers on topics that overlap with their research portfolios.

Regardless of whether your organization has hosted or participated in one chat or twenty, thinking about potential partnerships as you plan your social media event is an important way to strengthen ties within your virtual—and concrete—communities.

In December 2012, we co-hosted a chat on stress and anxiety with the National Institute of Mental Health. By the numbers, the partnership led to one of our most successful chats to date with 10,626,725 impressions and reaching 1,039,465 people. Its success could also be gauged by the chat’s overall activity, as participants retweeted information, asked questions, and shared resources.

In February 2013 for heart health month, we collaborated with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute on a chat about high cholesterol, and in April, we hosted a chat on seasonal allergies with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

These collaborations have really been helpful for building ties within the NIH community as well as for disseminating messages across audiences. In addition, these chats share evidence-based information about complementary therapies, and about the disease or condition. Content experts from both organizations, generally researchers and health professionals, participated in crafting scripts prior to the chat and responding to questions during the event. Each organization could take the lead within their sphere of expertise. In addition, the messages were amplified by the participation of Twitter followers from both organizations.

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By guest blogger Yasmine Kloth, Digital and Social Media Strategist, working with the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

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