What are the benefits of consultant surgeons becoming active on social media? More importantly what are the apparent risks to the surgeon and how do the benefits stack up against the risks?
The aim of a social media presence may be said to be an increase in the number of potential patients who are able, via the internet, to identify you and engage your professional services. More patents is good. But obtaining them via social media is not without a degree of risk.
The apparent risks include:
Negative posts from individuals Lack of ability to respond re: patient confidentiality Perception issues re: time to tweet, trying to appear a personality! Would the current generation of GPs refer you on the basis of a social media relationship? Lack of updates available from a private practice and/or testimonials due to confidentiality So why bother?
Certainly a consistent and regular presence on special media will greatly enhance the prospect of you being found on the internet and in particular on Google. Thus your original aim has been achieved. There are however a number of important considerations to think about as listed above. They impact greatly on your choice of WHICH social media platform and subsequent profile in order to achieve your goal.
MHM recommends LinkedIn as your initial entry into social media due to the probability of other consultants having profiles too. Explore LinkedIn Groups that have been setup specifically for consultants to network and discuss matters relating to your field. A regular presence on LinkedIn will assist the likelihood of discovery on the internet via a Google search.
Google+ has a similar option to LinkedIn Groups named Communities. Becoming a member of a popular Community allows you to gain exposure for articles and again increases probability of a higher listing on Google itself.
What about Facebook and Twitter? It may be argued that Facebook and Twitter are more of a “social” environment than Linkedin / Google +
If you are looking to promote your private practice and engage with the general public then you need to consider these key aspects:
You must lessen the risk of being directly criticised by troublemakers (without opportunity to respond) by setting up profiles with a practice name that do not identify a specific surgeon or treatment.
Offer tips on healthy living etc but nothing that can contribute to a potential claim.
There should be absolutely no attempt by any member of staff to offer diagnosis via Facebook message or via a tweet!
Ensure that a proper social media policy is adopted and communicated to any staff in charge of updating or responding to comments. Social Media is becoming increasingly used as a tool for general communication. It is proving itself as an effective networking method offering chances to showcase yourself as a trusted authority in your field.
It should not therefore be ignored for the days of just having a website – the build it and they will come approach – are long gone.