Entering the Healthcare Social Media World: An Analogy

photo by jscreationzs at freedigitalphotos.net

OK. So it took me a little while to accept the idea of writing things for the world to see. I mean, I have done that before (written blogs about music and art and other random musings), but under a pseudonym. This time I write as me, myself, and I, without an identity crisis, and under my professional name. That is, my lay-my-reputation-on-the-line, name. This was a scary start and not dissimilar to signing my first order on the hospital wards followed by the letters “MD.”

What I didn’t expect is that entering the Health Care Social Media world as a physician feels a bit like going to a new school.  

I got accepted into this public school a few months ago – it is easy to get into, after all – and like a good student, I was quiet and listened astutely first and learned some of the nuances of this new environment.  I was slow in picking up on colloquialisms (I only just figured out that #FF does not stand for Freaky Friday, Fish Friday, or Fast Forward) and am still a little uncertain of the etiquette (do you ask to be retweeted or just hope to be?).

When you’re the new kid, there are a lot of dubious people who “follow” you (spammers, for example, or Twitterers whose interests seem quite different, even antithetical, to yours and seem to be lurking there, just waiting there for you to “slip up.”) It is easy to pick out who the popular kids were.  Or who tended to talk a lot. Or who tended to be funny. There are the brainiacs, the dreamers, and the pessimists, too. 

Of course, in this school there is a BMOC, of whom I knew before I thought social media might even be a good idea. For those of you currently involved in Health Care Social Media, you know who I am talking about. He is like the star quarterback. Everyone knows him and follows him. I secretly want to be followed by him but am too nervous to tell him. I just might faint if I see him in person.

I digress.

As long as I was in lecture and doing my homework, I felt comfortable in this school, the Social Media world. But the real truth comes out in recess (as in real life).  At some point, I had to go out and play. Was I going to play alone or try to play a pick-up game and hope to make friends? Since my twitter activity mimics my real personality for the most part – I don’t want to be a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which is easy to do in any online format – I am a little more reserved. I initially bring up random, non-controversial topics. No biters. No interest. It was easy to get disenchanted. I wanted to be part of the cliques. (Yes, there appear to be cliques here.)

At some point, though, you see a ball coming your way and you can either let it fly right past you or you can catch it and pass it (retweet). Do that a few times, and you demonstrate you are a team player. Choose your moves (tweets) wisely and you can be a trusted member of the team every time you play the pick-up game.  I have made a few good passes. I haven’t made it into the popular crowd, but I am always learning from them.

Lest you think it is all fun and games in this school, there is homework to keep me busy. A few hours a week of writing and editing keeps me out of trouble. I have even been graded at this school. What did I get on my report card for the first quarter? Well, according to Professor Klout, my score is 32. “You actively engage in the social web, constantly trying out new ways to interact and network. You’re exploring the ecosystem and making it work for you. Your level of activity and engagement shows that you ‘get it’, we predict you’ll be moving up.”

So, as the new kid in this school, I am doing ok. After all, it is better to pace yourself here. You don’t want to burn out too early and drop out before you earn your credits.  

OK, enough daydreaming…. Back to my homework.

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One thought on “Entering the Healthcare Social Media World: An Analogy

  1. Welcome in! The school is fun and certainly educational; the crowd, even the big guys on campus are welcoming. The homework has proven to be satisfying and not too overwhelming….Enjoy!

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