How can doctors use social media professionally?

More and more healthcare employees are taking the bull by the horns and getting stuck in to the wonderful world of social media. Specialist registrar and campaigner Dr Kate Granger has 22,400 followers on Twitter whilst Chief Executive of Norwich CCG Jonathon Fagge has blogged 47,920 words to his loyal readers. So how can you benefit from using social media professionally?

Work out your objectives. First you need to figure out why you want to use social media and what you hope to achieve from using it. Once you have some clear targets, it’ll be easier to manage your social media commitments.

doctor using tablet image

How can social media help? Whether you want to promote your work or connect with colleagues and campaigners, working out how social media can help you fulfil your aims is a good idea. For example, Linkedin is better suited for professional networking, whilst Twitter may be better suited for quick fire communications with the public. You should also consider your target audience and which medium of media will be best suited to attracting them.

Consider content. You will need to put some thought in to what you are going to share over social media, and how you are going to generate this content. Depending on your target audience, this will affect your tone, the topics you discuss and how you interact. It is important to think about your online ‘personality’ and how to engage well with a variety of groups.

Take your time. It may take time initially to get the social media ball rolling which can be frustrating, but it can prove more time efficient in the long run. For example, colleagues may respond to feedback quicker via tweet and you may also be able to get the opinions of a much wider reaching group of people, including people you have never met before.

Five tips to get the most out of Twitter

1)      Make sure you listen as well as share your thoughts and views. This is particularly useful is you are striving to engage with patients.

2)      Make sure you have a profile picture, even if it seems embarrassing! This makes you much more approachable and ‘real’ and some people may be even more inclined to follow us because of this.

3)      Use links if you want to say more. If 140 characters is simply too small, then use links to help get your points across.

4)      Think about using TweetDeck. This is a free tool to keep track of popular topics and specific users as well as schedule your own tweets.

5)      Get chatting! Twitter is a brilliant portal to build up your professional network so get talking.