Social Media is a broad term used to describe communication across different applications such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Social media allows for conversation and exchange of ideas through text, pictures, videos.
Through social media, physicians can express and share their views and opinions. A positive online presence provides the public and professionals with information that you can control. It allows you to educate and distribute your expertise and offers an opportunity to establish yourself as an online leader. As a leader you will have the ability to influence public and peer knowledge as well as the ability to influence politicians and policy makers.
Social media can be used as an information source allowing you to stay up to date on a variety of topics from regular news to the latest scientific, medical and political developments. It can also be used to distribute any message that you feel is important for others to be aware of.
Lastly, it also allows the opportunity to counter physician ranking sites such as RateMD which do not always accurately represent physicians. Being an established online leader helps to counter such ranking sites.
Although social media has many benefits, there are some things to be mindful of. Whatever you post is available for everyone to see, and is often archived and saved.
It therefore important to be careful what information you post online. You have to assume that anything you post is completely public and can be seen by anyone. It is best to remain professional and stick to posting what you know about. It is important not to post anything that is confidential or that may compromise patient privacy.
Examples of social media that physicians use include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Twitter is used mainly for professional and personal purposes. It is good for engaging in conversation and increasing awareness and around topics. A "tweet" is a post, and is limited to 280 characters. Tweeting with images, using links and hashtags will increase the viewership of the post. Re-tweeting a post that you find interesting forwards that post to all of your followers.
LinkedIn is mainly used for professional and networking purposes. It allows one to display an online resume of sort listing your educational and professional background. LinkedIn provides a venue for people with similar interests and credentials to network and share ideas.
Facebook is mainly used for personal and social networking. It is a great way for staying in touch with and providing information to friends and family.
YouTube can be used to provide a medium for education and expression of ideas in the form of videos.