Prioritizing Social Media Participation

If you haven’t read the article in USA Today titled “A doctor’s request: Please don’t ‘friend’ me“, I think you should.  It makes some great points and is symbolic of the challenge we all face relative to social media.

  • Should we participate?
  • Which tools should we use – MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo, blogging, …?
  • How much time to spend on them?
  • What should I expect from them – leads, contacts, friends, finding old friends?
  • Is this okay to do at work or should I do this at home?
  • Should these sites be blocked at work?
  • What can I or can’t I say?
  • Should I accept invitations from everyone who reaches out to me?

The author of this article talks about some of the more physician specific issues of becoming friends with your patients in Facebook, but it generally begs the question of where do those boundaries exist.

“Having a so-called dual relationship with a patient – that is, a financial, social or professional relationship in addition to a therapeutic relationship – can lead to serious ethical issues and potentially impair professional judgement.”

On the flipside, what if a friend of yours is a physician and you need to be treated.  Is that okay?  I think so.  I know my pharmacist very well.  We’ve even had her and her family over to the house several times.  But, we became friends through our kids and our gym not simply because we have a clinical relationship.  And, while we’ll talk industry trends occassionally, we rarely talk specifics.  Plus, the fact that I help lots of companies drive business away from her pharmacy (retail-to-mail) never sits too well!

So, I’ve selectively added social media sites over the years.  Here’s a quick picture of how I think about it.  I do not accept the majority of invitations that I receive simply based on a few key criteria which vary by tool.  For example, in Facebook, I generally have to view you as someone who I have or would invite to my house in order to be your friend.  In LinkedIn, I have to have connected with you in person or on the phone one or more times before I would become a connection. 

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