I frequently teach and speak to physicians concerning online reputation and digital footprint. Everyone’s pressed for time, and inevitably, I’m asked about the easiest, fastest ways to get started on establishing and owning your online voice. Here, I’ve compiled six of my favorite approaches, each doable in well under an hour.
Launch a LinkedIn page. Put a stake in the ground with a solid LinkedIn page. Along with your photo and some basic professional history, include a bio. That’s the single most important element of your profile. Make it real. Make it good. Bonus: LinkedIn has a very nice timeline where you can share links and update what you’re up to.
Jump on Twitter. Open a Twitter account using your name and if possible an MD after it to indicate you are a doctor. Include a simple, pointed bio. Then share something, maybe once a day. Or every other day. If you share just a little, but do it regularly, people will find you and follow you. On the inbound side, don’t overwhelm yourself. Just follow ten people to start. Grow as you find valuable sources of information. Or just follow ten people. You are in control of your inputs.
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Pen a 350 word post for a content site. Most hospitals, medical schools, and institutions have blogs. And they love to have their staff physicians contribute. For even broader reach, pitch a post to a high-quality content site. Peek at what they like to publish, send an idea, write it, and you’re public. Maybe you have a few dozen Twitter followers? Let them know about your new post. Do this every 3-4 months and pretty soon you’ve got a nice panel of posts that reflect how you see the world.
Mess with Medium. Medium is a chic new content platform by the creators of Twitter and Blogger. In addition to its open platform, it assigns and publishes stories by some of the country’s best journalists and thought leaders. It’s a good place to share your ideas in a way that’s clean, minimalistic, and (thanks to their algorithm) incredibly shareable. The site also offers collaborative editing and, in some cases, can pay for content (which gets promoted more strongly).
Grab a Google+ page. Have ideas longer than a tweet but don’t want the hassle of formally creating a blog post? This is your solution. Think of Google+ as a stream like Twitter or Facebook. The big benefit here is that Google+ searches well on (you guessed it) Google. So it’s a good place to consider when trying to put yourself out there. Once you’re on, add me to your circles!
Create an about.me page. This is a platform that allows you to create a public landing page for yourself. You can post a small bio and links to things like your LinkedIn page (which you just created) or your latest blog post (which you just wrote).
All these things can make you public and in control of your own information with minimal time, upkeep, and effort. I’d recommend focusing on a couple to start. Pick a place to park a profile (LinkedIn), a spot for content (a site you like) and one place to have dialog (Twitter). Update your LinkedIn profile every so often. Publish on a blog every three months or so. Share a link on Twitter once a day – or every other day. Just like that, you’ll have a solid footprint underway, and you can grow as time allows. As you do, find a few role models in your specialty or area of interest. See what they share and how they handle their public presence.
I hope this was helpful. What have I missed? What else can be done in under an hour?
Bryan Vartabedian, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, where he also directs the school’s emerging programs in digital professionalism and literacy. On his blog, 33 charts, he writes about the intersection of medicine, social media, and technology. His first book, The Public Physician: Practical Wisdom for Life in a Connected, Always-On World, will be released this fall.