By Stephanie Yamkovenko
April is OT Month, and it's the perfect time to promote our profession. With social media and the Internet, promoting occupational therapy has never been easier. Whether you're a social media junkie or a newbie, our top 10 ideas will give you the information you need to start promoting OT online this month (and throughout the year). Because we know you're busy, we've sorted the ideas by the estimated time commitment for each—from as little as 5 minutes to a couple of hours.
- Share information about occupational therapy on social media sites (5 minutes)
- Use the hashtag #OTMonth (5-10 minutes)
- Answer questions on Q&A sites such as Quora (15 minutes)
- Contact your legislators on Facebook (15 minutes)
- Start pinning on Pinterest (20 minutes)
- Take and share pictures of OT in action (time commitment varies)
- Write a blog post about OT (30 minutes)
- Relate a story about OT on Storify (45 minutes)
- Record a podcast (1 hour)
- Create a video (A couple of hours)
1. Share information about occupational therapy on social media sites (5 minutes)
Sharing is simple on the Internet, and during OT Month you can use your Facebook wall, your Twitter stream, or even e-mail to share Tip Sheets, Fact Sheets, news articles, and other resources about the profession. Consider your audience (friends? other health care professionals? clients?) and choose information that directly applies to them. For friends or new clients who may not know much about the profession, select information from AOTA's consumer section. For other health care professionals, you can share AOTA's Fact Sheets, which give more detailed information about occupational therapy's role with a variety of conditions and in different settings. Also, you can find news articles that feature occupational therapy in the OT in the News section of AOTA's Web site. Before sharing other types of articles be sure you have permission to do so. You can find more information to share on AOTA's Facebook page, Twitter stream, Youtube page, and Pinterest page.
2. Use the hashtag #OTMonth (5-10 minutes)
Twitter users can use hashtags in their tweets by putting a pound sign in front of a keyword that will categorize the message and allow other users to click or search for tweets by that keyword on search.twitter.com. During OT Month, when you tweet information about the profession use the hashtag #OTMonth. The more people who use a hashtag, the better chance it has at becoming a "trending topic," and gaining the interest of others. Help make #OTMonth a top hashtag by tweeting it throughout April. You can also use the #OTMonth hashtag on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.
3. Answer questions on Q&A sites such as Quora (15 minutes)
If you've ever typed a question into a search engine, you've probably seen answers from question and answer sites such as Yahoo! Answers and Quora. Web users can submit a question and anyone on the Web can answer it. Check out the question and answer sites to see if there are any questions you can answer using your occupational therapy expertise. Perhaps an adult child is asking a question about caregiving options for an aging parent, or a parent is looking for ways to help a child do better in school. Start answering questions and link to occupational therapy resources so people can learn more about our profession.
4. Contact your legislators on Facebook (15 minutes)
An important part of promoting our profession is advocacy. Did you know that most senators and representatives are on Facebook and Twitter? Find your legislators and contact them, write on their wall, or tweet at them during OT Month. Visit AOTA's Legislative Action Center to learn about the issues AOTA is advocating on the Hill, and get ideas about what to write.
5. Start pinning on Pinterest (20 minutes)
Pinterest is a great place to promote occupational therapy. (Don't know about Pinterest? Read our article on how to get started here). Create a pin board about occupational therapy and start pinning ideas, posts, and photos. Get specific with your board (e.g., if you work with children, you could create a board of fine motor activities for kids) and pin items to it throughout the month. Make sure to include information in the pin's description about occupational therapy and how the profession can help people live life to its fullest.
6. Take and share pictures of OT in action (time commitment varies)
It's one thing to tell people about our profession, but imagine if you could show them occupational therapy in action. You don't need a professional camera to take and share pictures on the Web, so break out your point and shoot (or even your phone) and start snapping photos of your work. If you are taking pictures of clients, be sure to get their consent in writing. Post your pictures on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, OT Connections, or any other photo sharing site. Remember to write captions for the photos that describe occupational therapy and what you are doing. If you post your photo on Instagram use the #OTMonth hashtag and tag AOTA (@AOTAinc) so we can see it.
7. Write a blog post about OT (Approximately 30 minutes)
Already have a blog? Take this month to do a special series on occupational therapy. Even if your readers are mostly friends and family, a blog post is still a great way to promote the profession. You could write about many different topics, but here are a few ideas to help you get started: a day in your life as an occupational therapy practitioner; occupational therapy's role with a topic that you're passionate about; a review of your favorite smartphone app that clients can use; or a top 10 list about the ways occupational therapy can help clients.
8. Relate a story about OT on Storify* (45 minutes)
Storify allows users to create social stories using tweets, images, links, video, and more. Users curate content from social networks to create a narrative with different media elements. Tell your own occupational therapy story on Storify. Select a topic that you'd like to feature and use Storify's search to find related content from Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and more. You can drag, drop, and rearrange elements to create a story and write your own text. Once you've created the story, share it! You can embed Storify on your Web site and blog and share it on social media.
9. Record a podcast (1 hour)
A podcast is typically a short recorded audio session. If you have a microphone on your computer or a smartphone, you can record a podcast. During your podcast you can talk about occupational therapy, interview a colleague or client, or describe the ways occupational therapy can help a person with a certain condition, such as traumatic brain injury. You can use a free service such as talkshoe.com to record podcasts. Remember to share the podcast with your friends via Facebook and other social media sites.
10. Create a video (A couple of hours)
Video is a very powerful medium for promoting occupational therapy. This will be the most time intensive, but the results can be well worth the effort. Online videos are best when they are shorter than 5 minutes, have attention grabbing graphics and visuals, and tell a good story. Grab a video camera (many point and shoot cameras come with video capabilities) and start filming. Don't forget that video editing software usually allows you to put photographs and text in your video in addition to the footage you film. Remember to include a transcript or closed captioning to make your video accessible to more viewers. Once again, if you film clients or other people in a private or medical setting make sure you have their permission in writing. Upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo and share.
Are you planning on using any of these top 10 ideas? We want to see what you create. Tell us about how you promoted occupational therapy online on this OT Connections forum.
Want more ideas and resources for promoting occupational therapy during OT Month? Check out our OT Month page and shop online for Promote OT products.
Stephanie Yamkovenko is AOTA's web editor.