Within the past decade, social media has become more than just a tool to reconnect with friends, but also a vital part of professional networking. Dietitians are no exception to the growing trend. Hundreds of RD’s are already utilizing the various platforms to promote their personal brand as well as further advocacy for the profession as a whole.
Some of the most utilized platforms include:
- Google +
While there are many reasons to get involved and use social media as a registered dietitian, there are 5 simple steps to ensure you are using the platforms ethically and effectively. The following steps are also known as SMART Framework:
- Security: It is important to remember that once a picture, link or post is sent out, it is nearly impossible to retrieve. For this reason, it is necessary to check privacy settings and understand user agreements. In addition, keep personal and professional accounts separate. These security measures will help you avoid an ethical dilemma.
- Marketing: Social media is free advertising without any real regulations; therefore, how you present yourself online is just as important as in-person interactions.
- Attribution: Give credit to any content taken from another source. This includes recipes, pictures, ideas and resources. Be sure to seek permission from the originator to avoid infringing on copyright laws. When in doubt, cite it out!
- Respect: Stop and think before posting stories about patients on social media, because even a brief mention may be a violation of privacy. Building rapport with clients goes beyond face to face encounters. Potential clients will not choose to meet with you if they fear you will share details of their interaction with you on social media. Remember to be mindful of HIPPA laws and regulations to guarantee confidentiality with clients.
- Transparency: Always be honest and up-front about any financial compensation for your opinions, products, etc. Making false claims can potentially bring about legal trouble, in addition to destroying trust and professional credibility with clients.
Whether they should or not, it is also possible that potential employers will see your posts on social media, and make hiring decisions based on what they see online. This makes the SMART framework even more important! Keeping these five tips in mind will allow you to grow professionally in the world of social media.
Maria Corsi and Hannah Griffith are Dietetic Interns at the University of Virginia Health System. They are both from the Midwest originally and have enjoyed living in Charlottesville for the past 6 months. In her free time Maria likes spending time with friends, playing tennis and exploring the local vineyards, while Hannah enjoys running, cooking, reading and spending time outdoors.
Source: Pellechia, Kathleen, RD, and Sheila Kelly, MS, RDN. “Ethics and the Dietitian in the Digital Age: Using Social Media Responsibly and Ethically.”www.SkellySkills.com. 2016.
Photo Source: http://boulderfuse.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/social-media-www.linkedin.com_.jpg