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The AAOS Twitter page includes a variety of short "tweets" promoting the Academy, the value of orthopaedic surgery, and patient and physician resources, including links to AAOS Web sites.


Published 8/1/2009
Frank B. Kelly, MD

Spreading the word with tweets and fans

AAOS is now on Twitter and Facebook

If you think that superstars like Lindsay Lohan, Anderson Cooper, and Oprah are the only ones making news with social media such as Twitter or Facebook, think again.

According to a recent survey by the Online Research Corporation, more than 60 percent of Americans interact with companies on a social media site. More than 200 million people use Facebook, and more than 14 million are “tweeting” in the United States.

This year, AAOS launched its own ventures into social media—and that can pay dividends for you and your practice. The goal of the AAOS on social networking sites is to get people talking about our members and our organization, as well as to share accurate information (particularly about musculoskeletal health) within their own networks.

You can follow our daily “tweets” at www.twitter.com/AAOS1 or become a “fan” of AAOS on Facebook by searching “American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.”

Why it pays to tweet and be a fan
As one of the primary voices of the orthopaedic community, the AAOS is using social media to accomplish the following three goals:

  • To convey crucial messages about prevention and treatment to a wide audience.
  • To reinforce the image of orthopaedic surgeons as accessible, knowledgeable, and concerned providers of musculoskeletal care.
  • To be a resource to the public by referring people to quality orthopaedic information, such as the patient education materials found at www.orthoinfo.org, and by presenting ideas for articles on musculoskeletal issues, such as injury prevention, access, and research, to both professional and citizen reporters.

The AAOS fan club
The AAOS now has a fan page—as well as a fun, social fitness application called “Get Up! Get Out! Get Moving!”—on the social networking phenomenon Facebook. Although the fan page launched just two months ago, the AAOS already has more than 100 fans. In addition, the AAOS has shared media materials and 34 health-related tips as “wall posts.” Information posted on Facebook (including PSAs, videos, releases, and images) has essentially served as a social extension of our news bureau, extending the reach of public education initiatives.

Twitter: a flock of good information
Currently, more than 14 million people in the United States are using Twitter, and AAOS launched its Twitter page in April (Fig. 1). Since then, we’ve had great communications success using this social phenomenon, sending out media materials and more than 100 “tweets” (which are 140-character microblogs.)

In fact, more than 200 people now follow the AAOS on Twitter, and 130 people have visited our Web sites because of a prompt given in a tweet. Each visitor received a medically accurate and straightforward answer to his or her health question and may recommend our patient-centered resources to their own networks.

If you had 140 characters to talk about the work you do, what might you write? Here’s what the AAOS staff submitted recently, linking each tweet to one of our patient-focused Web portals:

  • The AAOS has patient education information in English, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, and Portuguese!
  • Baby Boomers: Tips on how to exercise safely!
  • AAOS offers experts: Orthopaedic surgeons available to comment on bone fractures, elbow injuries, treatment options, and fall prevention.

It’s time you tried
Social media is just one layer of a patient-centered communications effort. Like your Web site, newsletter, blog, or public speaking, social networking reinforces your commitment to your community members’ overall health.

But what makes social media fun is that it has few rules. So log on and try it. And, if you have some fun or success, e-mail it to mediarelations@aaos.org, so we can feature your story in an upcoming “Just the Bare Bones” column.

Frank B. Kelly, MD, is chair of the Communications Cabinet. He can be reached at fkelly@fs-ortho.com