Social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, are great for sharing of ideas, updates, and life experiences. Within the medical community, these tools can be great for spreading industry news, interesting articles, or blog posts (ahem…). However, it is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of mindless social media posting. How much sharing is TOO much sharing? What things should you avoid posting about on social media? How can you strive to find that perfect balance between fun and professionalism that will tell your followers, employers, and potential patients that you are a unique person and talented medical professional? We have some tips to help you navigate social media.
- Always imagine that your Mom will be reading every tweet you post. If you wouldn’t want your mom to see it, then you shouldn’t post it. Being mindful about what you post and the effect it will have on your image, will help you maintain face on social media.
- Avoid sensitive topics, such as politics and religion. Try to avoid polarizing issues, such as political beliefs and religious opinions that could result in some serious social media backlash. While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and the verbalization of these opinions can create a fascinating dialogue, social media certainly is not the place to do it. Some of your followers will inevitably disagree with you on these issues – especially if you come off too strong. This could result in you receiving negative, threatening tweets that are sure to put you in a bad mood, which might inspire you to say something you regret.
- Don’t curse or use offensive language. Any sort of foul language on social media, whether it simply be a curse word or slur to a specific group of people, will cause people to depict you in an extremely negative light. No amount of education, degree, or professional success can cancel out the unprofessional and trashy effects of bad language for all to see on social media.
- Don’t speak negatively about your workplace! Just like the Mom rule: If you wouldn’t be comfortable saying something negative and work-related in front of your boss, then definitely don’t say it on social media! Imagine social media as a vast public journal. Each post immediately goes out to anyone who has the capability to view it. Everything you say or post will be available for anyone to see and potentially document. Of course some of your posts can be downright hilarious or really positive, but imagine all the negative instances that this accessibility of data could be used against you! More often than not, employers search their prospective employees on social media to see how they portray themselves to the outside world. You don’t want anything on there to convince them that you wouldn’t be cut out for the job! So, be sure to always imagine what you can do to portray a positive image of yourself and your workplace.
- If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Again, you don’t want to come off like a negative, sour person! Don’t bring others down with you if you are upset, angry, or annoyed.
- Be familiar with HIPAA’s restrictions on what is appropriate for social media. HIPAA forbids any sort of online posting about a patient, especially if it sheds that patient in a negative light. Yes, even positive posts about patients are forbidden, since HIPAA views that as a violation of the patient’s confidentiality and privacy. For example, instead of sharing, “Today I treated the most amazing 90 year old woman named Esther. She was so kind and courageous. Patients like this are truly an inspiration to me!” you can post, “Treating kind, upbeat, courageous patients is what makes my job an uplifting one.”
Keep these tips in mind and exercise common sense online. Social media can be an amazing tool, but it can also hurt you if you choose to put yourself in a compromising position when you post. Always remember to be cognizant of the fact that what you say, does go on record, and is accessible to virtually anyone. Have fun and be safe out there! You have the power to create a positive image for yourself as well as your profession.
How do you use social media? Leave us a a comment.