6 Signs For Physicians That Social Media Is Not For You

Here are the 6 signs that social media is not for you.

Social media is here to stay, and it's only going to grow. Facebook now has 500 million members and, unless you're in geriatrics, the majority of your patients are already on it. We sing the praises of physician/patient connection, but it isn’t for everyone.

(Note: While Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter may not be for you, they're manditory for your medical spa or cosmetic practice.)

Here are 6 signs (for physicians) that social media is not for you:

1.  You hate what you do. Social involvement requires some degree of passion for what you’re discussing. If you’re unhappy at medicine and you’re generally an angry sort you might keep things to yourself. Unless of course you’re passionate about creating a community of angry doctors.

2.  You are a paranoid, risk-averse milquetoast. Every now and again I bump into a doctor who tells me about all the trouble I could be getting myself into. And they usually have a hundred ideas why I need to keep my door shut. Open dialog requires something of a leap of faith. In order to make any of this work you need to live without the looming belief that every post is a lawsuit-in-waiting. Tweet smart but understand the real risk-benefit.

3.  You work 170 hours a week.  Sure social media takes time. And yes, this can be a challenge if you work 170 hours a week. But there are some really useful ways you can be social as a doctor on a time budget. For starters, limiting your social properties and your connections. Small and real is better than nothing at all. I think I’ll stop there and turn this one into a post for tomorrow. Or the next day.

4.  You want to hire someone to do it. I recently tried to sell one of my fertility friends on developing a presence for himself.  He was really interested but at the end he winked and said, “Send me some info.  I’ll have my girls get on it.”  Oiy. Colleagues and patients want you, not your logo, office manager, or your “girls.”  If you can’t do at least some of it yourself you should reconsider doing it at all.

5.  You don’t need the patients. Boutique specialties see social as part of their personal branding strategy,  and for good reason. But let’s face it, unless you’re banding stomachs or peddling bioequivalent hormones, you’ve probably got your hands full with more than enough patients.  Internists don’t think about their personal brand, footprint or outreach. What they do think is how their going to keep the lights on after the Government slashes Medicare.

6.  You don’t want anyone to know what you think. Admittedly, public dialog done right requires some degree of disclosure. If you’re averse to anyone knowing what you are thinking, what you believe, or what (God forbid) you may be passionate about, you may just as well hide securely under your exam table and leave the dialog to the rest us.

But in the end, you may not have a choice. When Bryan Vartabedian MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Texas Children's Hospital/Baylor College of Medicine who writes and thinks about the convergence of social media and medicine crowdsourced suggestions about this on Twitter, a point was made that the use of social media is becoming no longer optional. It is, as the reply put it, “a mandatory transformation in order to evolve as a society.”

Now I can’t beat that.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Bryan Vartabedian, MD  is a pediatric gastroenterologist at Texas Children's Hospital/Baylor College of Medicine who writes and thinks about the convergence of social media and medicine at 33Charts.com

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