Social media and your professional profile 

How social media needs to be managed 

There are positive outcomes from using social media, such as networking, learning, influencing and promoting. These benefits need an investment in time and potentially a different outlook on communications.

Social media can also have some negative outcomes, and you will need to be responsive and considered in your approach.   

  • Reputation management 

    In the same way that you can build a good reputation through extended social networks, negative sentiment can spread quickly as well. You have less control over social media use than traditional communication methods such as email and may need to adopt a more flexible approach.   

  • Speed and reach 

    Conversations can be rapid, and opinions can form quickly, meaning you need to check in regularly on what’s being said. If you’re running a professional account, you should check in at least daily and ideally more often if you receive regular contact.   

  • Return on your time and effort 

    Using social media well takes time, so be sure that you’re getting value from the extra effort you’re putting in. Also, be conscious that you will need to consider your response to negative and positive activities from followers and others online.    

How social media can help you in your profession 

For many members, social media has become central to how they work and develop. Here are some of the ways you might benefit. 

  • Remaining informed  

    Social networks can help you to learn what patients and decision-makers think about your service or learn about developments in clinical practice. 

  • Making useful contacts  

    You can reach out and connect with opinion-formers, potential patients and fellow professionals. Social media’s currency means you can discuss topics in real time, with individuals or groups. 

  • Promoting yourself or your business  

    Social media can be an effective and cheaper addition to traditional advertising. Targeted messages can help you reach specific groups, while positive comments on your service can spread a good reputation. 

  • Acting quickly and widely  

    Few communication methods can compare with the rate at which you can place your message in front of interested readers and the speed at which they can respond. If they find it valuable and choose to share your message, it can reach far beyond your own network very quickly. 

  • Targeting your communications  

    By joining relevant online groups and by nurturing appropriate lists of followers, you can focus on people who are likely to have an interest in what you want to say. 

Work together in virtual groups  

Messaging apps, for example, let you set up private groups of your contacts, where everyone can be part of a conversation in real time. 

  • Planning how you present yourself on social media 

    As with any new venture, be clear about what you want to achieve before you begin. 

    You don’t need a lengthy communications plan – just a few points to remind yourself why and how you’re going to do this. 

  • Creating a social media plan 

    It's a good idea to have a plan about what you want to achieve by using social media, what channels you'll be using, how much time you can dedicate to those channels, and identifying any goals you want to achieve.

    Below you'll find an example of a simple social media plan, with some example answers.

A simple social media plan

Aims: I am doing this so that... 

  • I increase the number of patients coming to my practice. 

Audience: To achieve this, I want to connect with... 

  • sports people based in Devon. 

Channels: To reach them, I am going to use x, y and z social platforms. 

  • X (formerly Twitter) and a Facebook business page. 

Measures, targets, timelines: I’ll be successful if I achieve... by ... 

  • 20 new patients by the end of this year. 

Effort: To make this happen, I’m able to… 

  • devote 30 minutes a day to conversations and content. 

Points to consider before you start using social media  

  • Time you have to invest

    Consider what time you have to invest in social media and how will you manage your account(s). 

  • Tone of voice 

    Do you plan to speak as an individual or a business? Will your account be strictly professional, or will you try to balance it with some more social posts? Some users manage to give a sense of themselves through their business social media account. Getting the balance right is a matter of judgement.  

  • Choosing an appropriate name / handle 

    Pick a name that will help give an appropriate impression for a professional account. Choose the most suitable name available as there are downsides to changing it once it’s set. Don’t use any handle that uses unprofessional words and language. You should be aware that language use varies across age groups, for example, and what may be acceptable to one audience may not be appropriate for another. You should consider your target audience and work from there. 

  • Choosing appropriate images and photos

    For your account image (avatar) that will accompany posts, think carefully about the impression you want to give people. While a holiday photo might be okay for your personal Facebook account, you’ll want something more professional if you’re using social media for work purposes. Also, think carefully about the images and photos you choose to use in posts after your account has been set up.

  • What to cover in your biography or intro 

    Write your biography or intro using the language of your intended audience to show potential followers who you are, as that’s how they’ll search for you. Think about what specific words they might search for. Advanced users scan through their followers’ biographies to identify useful influencers.

    Only mention your employer if you’ve got permission to do so. It’s advisable to state that the views expressed on your account are your own. You may want to add that sharing or liking someone’s post doesn’t mean you endorse it. 

Follow up questions? 

If you have any further questions about professional issues when using social media, our professional advisers may be able to help. Email our enquiries team or call them on: +44 (0)20 7306 6666.

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