I want to share one of the most important pieces of social media advice I ever received.

Before I started my website, my marketing consultant suggested that I discuss my plan with my department chairman and the institution’s marketing and public relations departments. I did, and it turned out to be very important years later.

I won’t get into the specific details of my story, but the advice is important for any healthcare provider that wants to get started in social media. Talk to your practice and institution first.

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Go to your partners and explain what you want to do with your website, or on Twitter, Facebook or anywhere else. If you need to do so, run it by the marketing department at your hospital.

Most of the time, no one will have a problem with it. If anything, they won’t understand why you want to spend your free time doing it.

Usually hospitals have social media guidelines, and you can learn what is allowed and not allowed in these discussions. Can you disclose your hospital affiliation or use its name in your content? (On the flipside, they might require it.) Can you tweet during clinic hours or write posts on your practice’s computers? Knowing the boundaries up front is critical.
Doctor using iPad for social media

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If you have discussed your social media plans with necessary parties from the beginning, you can avoid issues down the road. If you develop a large following that creates resentment with your partners or is seen as competition by your hospital or institution, it would be harder for them to complain or challenge you if they signed off on it initially.