Eleven more ways physicians can benefit from social media

I'll admit it: I first fell in love with social media as a fast, easy way to share a laugh (or groan) with friends and family over my children's most salient 'are you kidding me?' moments (of which I've got a seemingly infinite supply).

I also was an early adopter of the more serious, professional network known as LinkedIn--initially invited by a trusted physician source--but that profile mostly sat idle until about a year ago, when I began using it as a key generator of story ideas, sources to speak about them and clients to publish my work.

Somewhere between discovering Facebook and LinkedIn, and perfecting the art of procrastinating on both, I made it a side hobby to learn all I could about blogs, Twitter, and Facebook fan pages, all the while watching how these trends took hold among hospitals and health systems and eventually trickled into physician practices.

As an independent professional myself and someone always on the lookout for strategies to help physicians, these are the top 10 reasons, in no particular order, I think doctors should embrace at least a professional relationship with social media:

1. You can customize and streamline the way you receive information according to your needs and interests. Ways to avoid becoming overwhelmed by the smorgasbord of media before all of us these days include searching Twitter by hashtag, 'liking' pertinent organizations on Facebook and joining common-interest groups on LinkedIn.

2. Using LinkedIn, you can build a portable, always-current resume and contact list without rousing suspicion.

3. You can reinforce relationships with other organizations or individuals by sharing ('liking', recommending or re-tweeting) content of theirs you find valuable.

4. Using the same technique, you can establish yourself as an authority in your field without having to come up with every last idea yourself.

5. You can bounce ideas or questions off of your peers without the risk of having to actually hear them laugh at you.

6. You can glean free advice from qualified experts--and gauge their credibility based on the number--and reputations--of others in cyberspace who support them (see #3).

7. You can effectively market yourself without having to go near a post office (or even change out of your pajamas).

8. When you do have to wait in line at the post office, you can log onto social media sites using your mobile device to help pass the time.

9. If you perform best while under the gun, you can fritter away time on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn until your adrenal system recognizes peak deadline-pressure conditions.

10. You can have a deliberate hand in how social media affects your business without leaving it up to the growing legion of curmudgeons and strangers who will gladly do it for you.

And if you're already among the thousands of healthcare professionals reaping all of these benefits and more, I'm pleased to announce that you now have one more place in which to realize them: FierceHealthcare's new Healthcare Leader Idea Exchange on LinkedIn. We invite you to join this group to take part in hot discussions, learn from other members and share your passion and knowledge, and most importantly, connect with peers and leaders in the healthcare industry.

I look forward to seeing you there. - Deb