#BCSM (Breast Cancer Social Media) was the first tweet chat dedicated exclusively to breast cancer. Started on 7/4/2011 by Jody Schoger and Alicia Staley, the #BCSM chats have evolved into a vibrant, supportive community for anyone affected by breast cancer. The weekly chats take place every Monday evening for an hour beginning at 9 pm Eastern / 8 pm Central / 6 pm Pacific on Twitter.
All anyone needs to participate in a #BCSM tweet chat is a twitter account . If you’ve never participated in a tweetchat before here are a few tips to help you make the most out of your #BCSM hour.
1) Focus on the Chat Itself
All tweet chats start with a hashtag (the # symbol) – it’s what brings us all together. Since there are many conversations happening at once on twitter, focusing on those tweets tagged with #BCSM filters only those that apply to the chat. Realize also that #BCSM can be used at any time to tag a tweet that may be of interest to the overall community, including a blog post, news article, or other information.
Platforms like tweetchat, tchat, tweetdeck or hootsuite can help make participating in a chat much easier. These programs pull the BCSM tweets into one platform so all you’ll see is the conversation itself. Both tweetchat and tchat automatically add the #BCSM hashtag to each tweet — one less thing you have to think about. Tchat also provides you with the ability to turn off retweets (RTs), to lower the volume of tweets you’ll be reading.
The biggest mistake newcomers make is using the regular Twitter platform and forget to add the #BCSM hashtag. That’s like trying to have a phone conversation with the mute button on. No one will hear you!
2) Lurk and Listen
Many #BCSM participants started by lurking, or reading the chat stream without ever identifying themselves or jumping into the conversation. It’s one way to see how the chat is organized, how people interact and who they are. That said we hope you will participate. #BCSM attracts patients from across the treatment spectrum as well as breast surgeons, oncologists, researchers and other healthcare providers.
From the beginning we’ve strived to create a warm, supportive, yet professional environment for breast-cancer issues to be discussed. Each individual’s perspective is respected and encouraged. There are no “right” answers but a shared experience that can help another in the same situation.
3) Organized Chaos — Q1, Q2, Q3
Tweetchats can incredibly energizing. It’s not every day where you can connect with so many affected by breast cancer in one place, at one time. Each chat has a predetermined topic and evolves around one to three questions addressed to the group or to that evening’s guest — Q1, Q2, Q3, for question one, question two, etc. What helps enormously is when each person prefaces their answering tweet with the question number. This not only makes the chat easier to follow while it is taking place but also helps focus the resulting chat transcript. Using the appropriate question number has the extra advantage keep the chat focused around that evening’s topic.
4) Quantity or Quality?
There’s a tendency during chats for the volume of RTs to increase as the evening’s topic takes hold.
The RT (retweet) option helps important information “rise to the top” so that all can see it, but sometimes does make the chats more cluttered. If you are using the RT to “save” tweets to review later, consider using the “favorite” (star button) option – those tweets that are particularly important to you will be saved in your favorites list for review.
If you have suggestions on how to improve the tweet chats or specific topics / guests, we want to hear from you!
Disclaimer: #BCSM does not provide medical advice. The information provided is for general information only. No online site should be used as a substitute for personal medical attention.