Twitter isn’t for the serious scientist or the medical professional, right? It’s for celebrities, teenagers, and self promoting mixtape moguls. Besides, I can’t explain anything meaningful in 140 characters. Leave that chit chat to the kids…

This is exactly how I used to think of Twitter. That is, until I heard Eric Topol’s keynote address at the annual AACC conference in Chicago. I can confirm that there hope for the rest of us. Dr. Eric Topol can show you how to craft masterful Twitter content that will demonstrate your thought leadership and consistently out preform your competitors…even if they have more followers than you.

Start Here: Follow Dr. Eric Topol on Twitter


If you haven’t heard of leading cardiologist and Medscape Editor-in-Chief Dr. Eric Topol, stop what you’re doing and go follow his Twitter account right now. Why? Joining 59k active following will not only keep you up to date on the latest advances in medical technology and personalized medicine, but exploring the very structure of his tweets will make you a better writer and content creator on Twitter.

My goal of this post is to dissect exactly how Dr. Topol creates content for Twitter. In our example we will examine copy, image, tags, and engagement. Finally, I want show you how you can quickly create your own perfect scientific tweet.

Remember: Twitter Is For Micro-blogging, Not Just Micro-promoting

The main take away of why Dr. Topol’s content so effective is that the value of the tweet is contained within the tweet itself. Usually, Twitter is thought of a place to promote the “real” content that exists somewhere else.

For example, let’s look at @FierceBiotech, one of the most respected BioTech editorial teams in the world. They have a similar twitter following base, yet Dr. Topol’s content preforms an average of 645% better than Fierce Biotech. How is this possible?

Of course there are number of reasons that this be case. Fierce tends to share investor news, maybe their audience doesn’t necessarily want other people to know what what stock trends their following, etc. But, for the sake of comparison it is clear that Fierce Biotech is using Twitter as an secondary promotional tool. They are not containing the value of the tweet within the tweet itself. They missing a huge opportunity to reach a broader audience with more meaningful content.

Twitter is a micro-blogging platform. We need to start micro-blogging. Not just micro-promoting our own blogs.

Dr. Topol’s tweets are an excellent example of adding unique value within the tweet itself. In other words, you can understand the main take away of the article by reading the copy of the tweet and the custom image. The link is provided to dive deeper into full article, but his content is shared so frequently because he takes the steps to create value in the Tweet itself.

Twitter is not about dumbing down your content. It is about knowing your topic so well you can cut to the point with grace and expertise.

Elements of The Perfect Science Tweet

Dr. Topol’s content includes the following 5 elements:

1) Copy – Easy to read. Personal voice.

2) Image – Custom image collage.

3) Link – Shortened. Directs to full article.

4) @mention – Publication or author.

5) Hashtag – Topics of conversation. #Indivmed, #genomics, #diabetes etc.


Simple, no? But you may be surprised how often people miss out on these key ingredients.

Let’s dive in and explore an example from Dr. Topol:

On runaway drug prices a serious problem that needs to be tackled @nytopinion 2 examples pic’d

— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) May 5, 2015


With 40 retweets at the time of writing this post, this single tweet reached an estimated audience of 2,667 people. (Via TweetReach)


So what’s really going on here? Lets start with the copy.

“On runaway drug prices a serious problem that needs to be tackled @nytopinion 2 examples pic’d”

The copy is easy to read. The topic and opinion are clearly communicated. “Drug prices, serious problem.” Got it. Notice that the a branded link is used (…). Branded links increase click-through because they are easy to read and thus more trustworthy. They’re great to use whenever possible. To find the branded link in this example go the article and look for the Tweet side bar.


You’ll see a share side bar on the left side column. Click “Tweet.”


A pop-up will give you a generic tweet. Copy this link.

Next, notice that the Twitter handle used in the tweet is @nytopinion (and not @nytimes). This is good. The more specific you can be with @mentions the better. Finally we read “2 examples pic’d” which takes us to the fun part…

The Secret Sauce: Building The Custom Image.

The custom images Dr. Topol uses are hands down the #1 factor in the success of his content. But as you can see he dives a bit deeper than the average image grab. In doing so he not only encapsulates the main message of the the article he is sharing, but he ADDS value too it. Notice that if we go to the article we first see an image of a medical storage unit. This is were most of us stop. Right click save, upload to Twitter, done. Not so fast, Dr. Topol would say. There’s a greater potential opportunity to add value for our audience here. In the tweet we see two images from separate sources:


Wait, these images aren’t in the article! Indeed. Lets dig. If we scroll down we see that the article references a recent report in the Wall Street Journal. Now we see the figure titled “After Company Buys A Drug.” Notice how the figure has been spliced in two and rearranged to be optimized for sharing on social media. The first figure was pulled from an entirely separate article published in the American Academy of Neurology. Bringing in additional outside resources strengthen the quality of the Tweet and Dr. Topol’s thought leadership.

It has become clear that Dr. Topols images go beyond just summarizing the article. He searches beyond the article to add outside resources in one central location.

Now we want to quickly create a powerful custom image of our own. I love using Canva. It’s free resource for making custom images on the fly. They offer a variety of free text templates, stock images, and custom layouts optimized for social media other place around the web. So first we want to screen shot our images and upload them into Canva:


Once uploaded we can easily drag and drop them onto our canvas. Canva makes it easy to arrange image and also add text.


Done! Next you’ll want to download and save your image.


You can also post to Facebook or share to Twitter directly from Canva, however I recommend saving and adding to a content scheduler such as Buffer or Edgar.

That’s it. Now you have the power to Tweet like Topol.

To recap, here are the 5 elements of the perfect scientific tweet:

1) Copy. Easy to read. Personal voice.

2) Image. Custom image collage.

3) Link. Shortened. Directs to full article.

4) @mention. Publication or author.

5) Hashtag. Topics of conversation. #Indivmed, #genomics, #diabetes etc.

Who do you know who should learn to Tweet like Topol? If you enjoyed this post, pass it on!

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