The 21st century communication landscape offers a whole load of places to share your ideas. I call this the medical media continuum. The continuum is everything that’s available to you. Your communication wardrobe is what you choose to wear.
As more doctors become involved in public dialog, many find themselves pigeon-holed by Twitter, the doctor’s social platform of choice. Twitter is great for quick ideas and links. But don’t be a one trick pony. Have a few places where you can put your amazing ideas.
The communication wardrobe – An arsenal for your ideas
What this idea of a wardrobe implies is that you need different media for different ideas. You need a small arsenal of platforms to share your brilliance. These are some of the common media that most physicians can understand and use without a lot of heavy training.
Twitter. Think Twitter for link sharing and time sensitive commentary and ideas. Actually, there isn’t enough room here to cover the ways Twitter can be used.
Blogs. For longer form stuff a blog is really helpful. Better thought of as your ‘site,’ this your domain or home base on the internet. And when you have something that’s bigger than a tweet or short thread, it’s the perfect place to park it. While some folks say ‘blogs are dead,’ sharing ideas longer than the Twitter length of 240 characters definitely is not. Everyone needs a place to park their bigger ideas and this one often gets overlooked when it comes to the communication wardrobe.
Surrogate blogs. If you don’t want the hassle of a setting up and maintaining a blog you can use a surrogate blog like KevinMD or Doximity’s OpMed. A surrogate blog is someone else’s blog that takes submissions. You benefit from their basic editorial expertise, Google juice and technology and voila, your idea reaches the world. Surrogate blogs are a great place to start if you’re thinking of launching your own.
LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great place for sharing longer formed stuff as well. Few understand the hidden gem idea that LinkedIn can create blog posts. It’s a great place to create thinking that is tightly related to your professional trajectory. The best part is that these chunks of written brilliance are contextually visible to those looking at your LinkedIn profile.
TikTok. If you’ve got a creative streak and you’re interested in reaching teens, this may have some real upside for you. So far this has not hit the adoption threshold for many doctors but some have had some real success. Right now this might be seen as as patient-facing social platform while LinkedIn or even Twitter, for example, have more horsepower when it comes to doctors connecting with other doctors. Thinking about TikTok should force you to think about how and why you are using social media.
Professional Facebook page. We forget that you can quite comfortably create chunks of writing on Facebook. While the formatting isn’t great for the reader, it can work if Facebook is part of your digital map. A professional Facebook page can hold big ideas. Since most of us have personal Fb pages it may be worth setting up a professional page if this is going to be your platform of choice. This will keep some of your edgy (or even wonkish) ideas about medicine out of the eyes and ears of your college buddies and mother in law.
Instagram. If your ideas are graphic or visual, Instagram is a great tool to have in your communication wardrobe. Some people creatively put relevant quotes on Instagram. This can be a great way to build a following if pictures and art aren’t your thing.
Podcasting. If you love to talk but have a hard time mugging for the camera (this is me), podcasting is a great option. While not super difficult to do, there is a learning curve and a minimum of technology to create something that people are willing to spend a half-hour with. I came to podcasting very late in my digital journey but love it.
Traditional journals. And, of course, on the medical media continuum are traditional journals. A lot of doctors think that this is the only place to put our thinking – probably because this is what we did for a few hundred years. But always remember that once ideas are published on a web property like a blog, it’s considered published. That’s important because many journals won’t consider accepting content that’s been published even though you’ve built it up. Before you put your thinking on a blog, consider if it would be better placed in a traditional journal.
On the medical media continuum there are lots of different platforms. I didn’t even touch audio or video publishing.
Build your wardrobe before you’re invited to a party
So what’s important here is that you need to intentionally think through where you’re going to park your ideas before they come to you.
Just like having different clothes for different occasions, you need to plan before you need them.
This page is part of a bigger project: The Public Physician, a field guide for life online. To read more check out the Public Physician landing page. Happy reading!
Updated February 2020