A Summary of the Good, the Bad and the Useless in Social Media for Medical Professionals

Social media can be a powerful tool for medical professionals: it can provide critical medical information to patients and help you connect. It can also deliver the kind of visibility that helps with career advancement, third party relationships or as a resource when we want to be heard about a particularly important issue. But certain social media tactics and tools can also be a waste of time when you have such little time to begin with. The following, based on 30 years of experience, is how I would navigate social media, spending on average about 15 minutes a day, or more, or less.

How I Would Dedicate 15 Minutes Each Day to Social Media

For Twitter:
The Twitter audience can work well for surgeons and physicians. It is designed to be quick and higher level. I highly recommend using Twitter for colleagues, not patients. You do not want certain patients to have public access to you, so please restrict who you follow and who follows you by choosing content only your target audience is interested in. Choosing this particular network will also save you time. The goal should be communication and relationship building with colleagues.

One method of limiting your audience to colleagues and peers is to use your first name only. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey uses just @jack for a reason: to show that access to him is limited to those who either know him or would impress him. Using your first name with numbers or symbols with it can help secure the approved use of your name.

I also recommend defining your use of Twitter topics ahead of time so that there is a discipline to the process and you can gain comfort in knowing you do have boundaries. For example, your priority content for Twitter may be something like this: news of my research; interesting news with my comment; my opinions on [this] topic; colleague praise. You will also want to tweet out any interviews you do or any on line coverage of your good work. Trust me, this saves time.

Further, I counsel my clients to tweet their impressions at conferences. It gives you a record of the event and stimulates appreciation from those who could not go.

You can quickly keep up with what colleagues and friends are doing.

For LinkedIn:
It was once thought that people only use LinkedIn when they are job hunting, but that isn’t always true. LinkedIn can work well to remind your colleagues that you are practicing and that referrals are welcome. Simply fill in updates and let your connections know when there is something news worthy about your life or career. Connect with anyone who can be a referral partner.

Use updates to post your papers, any media coverage or events you are involved in. There is a place to post your presentations, and I recommend you do so to increase your audience. Make sure you announce that it is available.

I don’t recommend their message center—stick with good old-fashioned email to make sure they received your message.

For Facebook:
I use Facebook to keep up with my adult kids, who are at the age where they use it regularly. But I also have a professional page—and that is my priority on Facebook. Here you can post updates on your activities and provide information on the same topics I mentioned above.

I recommend limiting your time and your content. Make sure it is restricted to ensure there is no drama or errors. There is new survey data that people who spend a lot of time on Facebook experience anxiety. While we don’t know for certain yet if this is true, it may be a good idea to stick with it as a business tool, because it is no substitute for good relationships.

Share this post