I often get asked why I’m getting so heavily involved with social media. Well here’s my list of the top 10 reasons why as doctors we should engage with social media.

1. Get a hobby

Fishing can be a great hobby but so can blogging and getting involved on social media
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Give yourself something to do. Medicine can be tiresome sometimes and having a release and a hobby is very important. As doctors, we often tell our patients to get hobbies, to do something to fill their time. We should take this advice ourselves and do something.

A hobby can be part-time, a few minutes a week, or a few hours, or even a pretty full-time hobby. As long as it doesn’t become invasive to your life then it’s still a hobby. If you find it’s taking over, maybe it’s time to take it to the next level and monetize?

2. It can be cathartic

Writing can be very cathartic
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Putting that pen to paper and writing about your struggles and experiences can be very cathartic. See this post on miscarriage for example or this one on my experience as a patient. It was incredibly useful to me to write those posts and really helped me express my thoughts and feelings. I’m not quite ready to write my memoirs, but I can see why people do it. Engaging with social media can really help with this.

3. Share

Sharing can be very cathartic
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Social media can be used to find others who have been through similar experiences. I recently posted those links above on to my social media groups and the response was overwhelming. So many people had been through similar experiences and they really found it helpful that I’d put it out there. They said it gave them the confidence to do the same.

4. Provide information

social media can be used to share information easily
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Social media can be used to provide information and resources to your patients. One of my colleagues just released a post giving information to his patients about Coronavirus which is a great way to get it out there. This is also the main reason why I blog on Dr Suresh and also Medspace, to give high-quality information to my patients.

5. Directly counter misinformation

social media can be used to tell the truth
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We can use social media to directly counter misinformation. There’s so much bad info out there, untruths and just downright lies, we need the voice of reason and evidence to counter these false claims. Just jump onto any social media platform and you will probably find loads of antivaccination propaganda and fake medical information.

As doctors and other healthcare professionals, we can directly counter the spread of this bad medical advice.

6. Give you an income outside of medicine

You can get an income outside of medicine with social media
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Engaging with social media can give you an income outside of medicine. It can be a good source of money, with some bloggers certainly pulling in 6 figure sums per year. Don’t expect to get there straight away, but it could happen if you keep plugging away.

There’s 2 main ways of doing this, the first is to get a big following and use it to launch products like a book, or to have a successful blog which you then monetise. Or both!

7. Own your brand

your brand is very important
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Own your ‘brand’. As a doctor especially our brand is important, and you really don’t want someone else making websites in your name, or claiming your google pages for example. Even if you just register your domain and claim your google business entry that can be enough to deter those would seek to impersonate you or cause you harm.

8. Get reviews.

Get positive reviews using social media
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Get positive reviews. AHPRA rules are quite clear that we cannot ask for reviews, and we cannot provide testimonials either. However we cannot control what we cannot control, and certain review sites (like Google) are very hard to remove reviews from there. This is the same for both good and bad reviews, but if you have a large social media presence the likelihood is you will get positive reviews far outweighing the negative.

9. Control your information

control what's on google
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Get yourself on to Google. The search engine. Anyone with a website they are trying to promote knows all about search engines. It’s how most people find you nowadays. You really don’t want your patients googling your name and it comes up with drunken photos from medical school. Getting yourself out there can really push off all those old negative stuff you can’t remove but you really don’t want anybody seeing.

As an example, if I googled myself before I started my SoMe campaign I’d get 5-year-old twitter posts and some bad comments on a guardian news thread. Now all I get is positive tweets and messages and of course my websites and Google Business page. That’s what I want my patients seeing.

10. Earn more money

engage more to earn more
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Yes, social media can get you earning more money. It can bring you more income. Following on from number 9, if your patients are googling for a service in their area, if you are #1 on that list, they will pick you. Evidence shows that the vast majority of people will pick that top link and never look elsewhere. That’s why companies spend billions on SEO to hit those top spots on page 1 of Google.

It’s not just search engines either, just getting yourself out there on Facebook community groups, for example, can yield real rewards. I estimate since I started putting a weekly post on my local community group my income has doubled. Yes, that’s not a typo. Doubled.

So there you have it guys, my top 10 reasons for engaging with social media. Hopefully, it’s been useful to read why you should engage with social media and if you have any comments I’d love to hear them below.

Dr Suresh is a GP and Skin Cancer Doctor in Brisbane