• 9 Tips for Staying Professional on Social Media

    9 Tips for Staying Professional on Social Media

    Social media can be a powerful business tool. How can you maintain professionalism when using it? Young ophthalmologists and other Academy leaders share their tips to help you keep posts engaging and avoid some common mistakes.

    1. Protect your patients first

    If you are including your patients in a social media post, take care of their identity and welfare. You should make it second nature to record consent and permissions if  you intend to post pictures or video.

    –James G. Chelnis, MD
    James Chelnis, MD (Facebook); @ChelnisMD (Twitter)


    Educate yourself about HIPAA. Posting “Hey, I just saved a patient’s vision” with their photo can be a violation.

    –Ravi D. Goel MD
    @RaviDGoel (Twitter)

    2. Know your audience

    Who is your audience and your audience’s audience? They will be the ones retweeting and sharing. Use that to your advantage and also with caution!

    –Janice C. Law, MD
    Dr. Janice Law (Facebook); Janice Law (LinkedIn); @macularstar (Twitter)


    If you intend for patients to see your posts, keep it simple and share topics they will find interesting or helpful. The Academy’s
    EyeSmart Twitter account has a lot of great patient-oriented posts that you can easily share.

    –Jason D. Rupp, MD
    Jason Rupp (Facebook); @eyedocrupp (Twitter)


    Lead with generosity and post content that is genuinely helpful for your colleagues or patients.

    –Dr. Goel


    What you think is valuable might not be valuable to your audience. So know what they need. Do your research in a trial-and-error manner in order to see what “speaks” to your desired target demographic.

    –Usiwoma E. Abugo, MD
    @MentorMeMD (Instagram); @MentorMeMD (Twitter); www.MentorMeMD.com

    3. Think twice before posting

    The entire world can see your social media presence. Make sure you are responsible about what you post. It will live forever.

    –Evan Silverstein, MD
    @ESilversteinMD (Twitter)


    It’s never classy to use profanity in your social media posts.

    –Dr. Law


    Check all your posts to make sure they do not include patient information or other protected health info. Also stay away from negativity and never speak badly about where you work or about others in your profession.

    –Andrea A. Tooley, MD
    dr.andreatooley (Instagram); @DrAndreaTooley (Twitter); Andrea Tooley (YouTube); www.AndreaTooley.com


    Avoid posting anything you wouldn’t want your patients to see, read or hear. Instead, ask a question or share a personal story.

    –Purnima S. Patel, MD
    pspateleyemd (Instagram); @pspateleyemd (Twitter)

    4. Treat your posts like patients

    Consider every social media encounter like you would a patient. Always ask whether you are adding or detracting value from the encounter via what you post. This will make it easier for you to be HIPAA compliant, post relevant and evidence-based research, make regular contributions and respond to inquiries in a timely fashion.

    –Dr. Abugo

    5. Establish a professional look

    Start with one professional photo and a complete LinkedIn profile. When using different social media platforms, be sure to use the same reliable handles.

    –Dr. Goel

    6. Keep your personal life separate

    Separate your professional account from your personal account and don’t write off topic. If I’m following you because of your perspective on surgery, don’t share your joy at half time when your team is up by 1. And don’t forget pictures and links!

    –Peter A. Karth, MD, MBA
    Peter Karth (Facebook); peterkarthmd (Instagram); Peter Karth MD, MBA (LinkedIn); @PeterKarthMD (Twitter)


    It’s a mistake to mix your personal posts with a professional account that patients will see. Remember that this is the “you” patients see in the office, not the “you” hanging out with your friends on the weekend. So be yourself, but be judicious with what you share. I found it helpful to make a separate professional profile. That way I can privately share photos of my kids with friends and family, but maintain a separate public professional profile dedicated to eye care.

    –Dr. Rupp


    Don’t “friend” patients or staff. Separate your personal and professional “persona” and have a clear vision for each “identity” you portray in social media.

    –Dr. Law

    7. But don’t be afraid to be personal

    People are oftentimes afraid to be personal when using social media in a “professional” sense. However, it’s okay to share aspects of your personal life because the public wants to connect with you as both a physician and an individual. I love it when my colleagues post educational content and also put a personal emphasis on it. This helps the public connect with interesting cases and learn why a case tricked you, what made something complicated or how you cared for a patient.

    –Dr. Tooley

    8. Keep a list of future content

    As you randomly think of topics, keep a running list with an app like Evernote. That way you will never be caught thinking about content.

    –Dr. Chelnis

    9. Give the proper credit

    Be sure to credit and/or tag the people in your photo. That will help expand your engagement and your audience. It will also help promote the individuals in your posts.

    –Dr. Law

    * * *

    About the authors:

    Usiwoma E. Abugo MD, is an ophthalmic, plastic and facial cosmetic surgeon at Carolina Eye Associates. She received her medical degree from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and completed her residency in ophthalmology at Howard University Hospital Center in Washington, D.C.

    James G. Chelnis, MD, is an oculoplastics and reconstructive surgery attending at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai. He completed his training at Vanderbilt University and the University of Tennessee. He has been on YO Info’s editorial board since 2012 and became chair in 2017.

    Ravi D. Goel MD, is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives subcommittee on EHR, the Academy’s Communications committee, the CME advisory committee and an Academy representative to the American Medical Association. He practices comprehensive ophthalmology with Regional Eye Surgeons in New Jersey.

    Peter A. Karth, MD, MBA, is a member of the Academy’s YO Advocacy subcommittee. He is a vitreoretinal physician and surgeon with Oregon Eye Consultants. After several years in Silicon Valley, Dr. Karth continues to work with startups and mature tech companies to find and address unmet needs in ophthalmology.

    Janice C. Law, MD, is an associate residency program directory at Vanderbilt Eye Institute and member of the Academy’s YO committee.

    Purnima S. Patel, MD, is an associate professor of ophthalmology at Emory University and chair of the Academy’s YO committee.

    Jason D. Rupp, MD, is a glaucoma and advanced anterior segment surgeon in private practice at Clarus Vision Clinic in Salt Lake City. Dr. Rupp completed his residency and fellowship training at Washington University in St. Louis. He joined the YO Info editorial board in 2016.

    Evan Silverstein, MD, is an assistant professor of ophthalmology and associate residency program director at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. Dr. Silverstein completed his residency at Vanderbilt University and a pediatric and adult strabismus fellowship at Duke University. He joined the YO Info editorial board in 2017.

    Andrea A. Tooley, MD, is a fourth-year resident at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. This July, Dr. Tooley will start an oculoplastics fellowship at Manhattan Eye and Ear Hospital/Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery-New York University Medical Center in New York City. She joined the YO Info editorial board this year.