Physicians and Professionals Misusing Social Media

There was once a time when social media was just that—an online community where people could connect with friends. Now professionals are utilizing social media outlets to market their business and connect with clients. As social media usage increases, the lines between personal and professional lives often become hazy. No matter what your line of work, it is important to remain professional online at all times as your company’s reputation is at risk. A study posted in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) discussed the prevalence of physicians misusing the internet.

What’s most alarming about this study is that most physicians’ online violations were unintentional. These violations ranged from inappropriate contact with patients and misrepresentation of credentials to prescribing medicine without ever meeting the patient. Doctors are expected to remain professional, so it is important that their blogs, websites, and social media profiles reflect this tone. It’s important to set guidelines for internet usage in order to protect your reputation and brand.

Since many of our marketing clients work in the medical field, the McCauley Marketing team understands the risks and benefits associated with physicians and patients interacting online. Many of these unintentional flubs can be avoided with thoughtful planning and a little common sense.  Before beginning social media profiles for business, have a thorough understanding of your company’s brand identity and social media guidelines.  

Whether or not you have a marketing firm handle your social media accounts, discretion is key to staying out of trouble online. A social media policy is beneficial, especially if multiple people are going to be handling one account. Another important aspect of reputation management is determining how much personal information you are willing to share about yourself, your company, and your employees before you start using social media.

Anything and everything you post should work together to represent your brand well. For instance, we wouldn’t want our Twitter handle to be “@McCauleyMkting” and our Google+ page to be entitled “McCauley Advertising Services.” While we offer both marketing and advertising services, consumers may assume these are two separate companies. It’s also important to create Facebook business pages rather than an individual profile so your fans can “like” your page rather than sending friend requests. In fact, we would not suggest interacting with clients through personal social media profiles at all.

Although it’s important to be cautious when using social networks to promote or represent your business, it’s also important to engage users in the conversation. If you’re not going to send status updates or interact with others, don’t bother creating a profile. Above all, remain professional. With so little existing litigation surrounding intellectual property and online reputation it’s best to err on the side of caution and minimize highly opinionated posts.  If you wouldn’t say something directly to a client or patient in a face-to-face conversation, then don’t post it online.

Visit our website for more social media marketing tips, and contact us if you are looking for someone to handle your social media marketing and keep your business out of trouble. Be sure to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ if you haven’t already.