Nearly 80% of Australians use some form of social media, and a quarter of Australians follow businesses or brands on social media.2
The widespread use and low cost of social media makes it a convenient tool for general practices to connect with patients and health professionals, and vice versa. Using the internet to transcend geographic boundaries, social media is an effective way to engage the public and reach people in rural and remote communities. It can also be used as a community engagement tool – for example, to share practice social celebrations and acknowledgement of achievements by practice staff.
Social media can also serve as a tool to facilitate expansion of professional networks (local, regional, national, international), information exchange, collaboration, curriculum development and e-learning, among many other professional activities. It is an easy way to network, keep up to date, learn, engage and connect directly with decision-makers. The RACGP’s member platform, shareGP, is a good example of how social media can be an important professional resource for GPs. A closed online space, it lets GPs connect and collaborate with their peers to share ideas, opinions, research and support.
Multiple social media accounts can be used to cross-promote content, broaden your reach and engage across platforms (eg ‘tweet’ a link to your latest blog post, post a link to your Facebook page or your general practice LinkedIn profile).
Social media can be a source of news, and it also gives GPs a platform to express their views about the health system, which helps generate and inform health policy and public debate.
Social media provides a platform for health professionals to educate the community about health conditions, disease prevention and treatment. If done well, your social media platforms can be a source of evidence-based information that people use and trust.