5 Ways Orthopedic Surgeons Can Improve Their Social Media Presence

Practice Management

David Geier, Jr., MD, is an orthopedic surgeon and director of sports medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Geier started a blog in early Sept. 2010, which he updates with information regarding sports injury treatment, prevention and wellness. Dr. Geier shares some tips for other medical professionals who are interested in developing a social media presence.

1. Find a niche. Some fields are simply more accessible to social media users. A neurosurgeon, for instance, may struggle to find topics conversational enough to blog about. An expert in women's health, however, may meet great reader demand. A niche should be neither too wide nor narrow, and should meet a need. For example, Dr. Geier noticed a lack of credible sports medicine blogs before he decided to start his own.

2. Prepare for the time commitment. Medical professionals have tight and, at times, unpredictable schedules. But a blog last updated in 2005 won't help any professional, no matter how bright or reputable. Find a routine to update new content and stick with it. "If you're not going to put in the time, it's going to fizzle in a second," says Dr. Geier.  

3. Follow guidelines to avoid PR or legal nightmares. Before "going live," Dr. Geier was careful to take preventative measures to ensure his blog didn't lead to legal or PR dilemmas. He ran it by MUSC's PR and marketing teams, and ensured the site contained appropriate disclaimers, confidentiality notices and a written statement that the blog's content reflected his views and not those of his employer. Furthermore, he runs media requests by MUSC's PR team before speaking in interviews, maintaining a transparent relationship and keeping MUSC in the loop.

4. Establish your goals. Professionals should figure out why they are using social media in the first place. Information sharing, cost-effective advertising, community outreach or customer service are just a few purposes a social media presence may serve. Dr. Geier wanted to increase his communication with the public, helping them learn about sports injuries in a conversational, easy-to-understand way. Through his blog, he also schedules public speaking engagements and shares recent research findings.

5. Make it interactive and be accessible. Social media needs to remain a two-way street. After all, that's what sets it apart from traditional websites. On his blog, Dr. Geier responds to patients' questions. Through a disclaimer, he clarifies that his response contains general information rather than a specific diagnoses or individualized treatment advice. Those who submit questions know ahead of time that Dr. Geier may feature them in future blog posts. He also encourages people to reach out to him via Twitter and e-mail, and shares the locations of his practice.

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