Stepping Out of the Darkroom and Into Social Media


Best practices to get you started.

Whether you love or hate social media, there’s no denying its ubiquity. Over the past few years, radiologists have gone social and for good reason. We’ve seen social media’s utility play out even more during the pandemic -- providing valuable social connection and serving as a real-time communication tool for safety updates and information. Physicians today are using social media to find mentors, act as patient advocates, seek and share education, and build personal brands.

It should also be no surprise that physicians are taking an interest in social media as a younger generation settles comfortably into their careers. More than any generation before them, millennials search for recommendations regarding physicians and facilities online. An outdated website, lack of reviews, and difficulty accessing critical information could be a major turn-off.

But, it’s not just millennial radiologists using social media. Case in point? My favorite platform for engagement is Twitter, and I am certainly beyond the millennial generation. Radiology as a field has also recognized the importance of social media. With social platforms increasingly image-based, they are well suited to serve up bite-sized educational content for radiologists. On Instagram, “case of the day” challenges are becoming increasingly popular.

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Social media, however, is not without its downfalls, and regardless of which platform you’re using, physicians should be aware of best practices and potential problem areas to ensure healthy online engagement. Here are a few best practices for those looking to start or build their social presence.

  1. Follow the rules: First and foremost, review your facility’s social media and marketing policies to ensure compliance. If you feel as though it is time for a change and an increased social presence, engage with senior leadership for a discussion on the topic. Facilities frequently have guidelines in place to protect patient health information.
  2. Find your audience: Determine which platform is best suited to your social goals. Looking for educational content? You might consider Instagram. Want to connect with others professionally? Set up your LinkedIn. Looking to engage in real time conversation? Twitter will be a good place to start. It’s important to think through what you're looking to achieve with social for your personal or practice’s brands.
  3. Connect with others: Social media is afterall, social. Once you set up your account It’s important to grow your follower base. You can do this by posting engaging content, following others and participating in forums and group discussions. Search for relevant hashtags to add to your content to make sure you’re getting noticed in relevant conversations.
  4. Never share patient information: This is especially important for organizations posting educational content. Never share patient personal health information. Be cautious that no PHI can be seen in any photos.
  5. Determine your personal and professional line: The lines today between our personal and professional lives are even more blurred but make sure you have a plan for how you want these words to collide in your online social spheres. Consider maintaining both private personal and professional accounts to keep conversations pertinent and appropriate.
  6. Keep your profiles fresh and up-to-date. Make sure you have an updated photo, descriptor, and that you’re engaging on a regular basis. Now would be a good time to audit your existing profiles to make sure they’re up-to-date if you haven’t done so recently.

Social media is a fantastic way to network, share your work, and learn from others. Follow the guidelines above to stay safe while posting away!

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Nina Kottler, MD, MS
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