I received this question from a physician after I gave a social media talk at a conference for a national medical organization recently. He wanted to create a website and build his presence online, but he worried that people – presumably other physicians and potential patients – would think he is promoting himself too much.

Before I get to my answer to his question, let me share my experience with this same issue. I’ve heard far more times than I can count – from other doctors, mainly – that my website and social media activity are too self-promotional. Or people observe that I’m great at “marketing,” which is at best a back-handed compliment and at worst an insult. None of it bothers me, because these views are short-sighted. I challenge anyone who feels that I am trying to promote myself to show me examples in my posts where I tell people how great of a surgeon I am or that they should come see me as patients instead of their local doctors.

My goal is not – and never was – to increase patients. My goal is simple. I aim to provide leading commentary and education on injury treatment and prevention to keep you performing at your best.

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Sure, not a day goes by without someone stopping me to say they read my newspaper column, and many of them eventually choose me as their orthopedic surgeon. And yes, I get hundreds of requests for newspaper, radio, television and website interviews every year, but I discuss topics to help their audiences, not to promote my practice.

Getting back to the concerned doctor’s question, you should fear appearing overly self promotional if your only goal is to promote yourself or your practice and if you use your website and social media to accomplish that goal.

On the other hand, if your goal is to educate, lead, or help people, then you have nothing to worry about. Share your knowledge about your field of medicine in articles on your website. Answer questions about your specialty on Twitter or Facebook. Give talks, develop webinars and courses, or help people in any way you can.

If your goal is to help your audience, your brand and your exposure will grow. But your growth won’t result from blatantly promoting yourself.