How doctors can establish an online presence: A step by step approach

A continuing series on physician online reputation.  Created in partnership with the Doctors Company as part of their social media resources for physicians

There are so many online platforms that doctors can get involved in today, and some may not know where to start. I want to share my approach.

The first step would be going on physician rating sites and making sure your information is accurate on those site. The major ones are Vitals, Healthgrades, Yelp, and RateMDs.

Next, I would create a profile on a professional social networking site. A profile there is no more than a digital translation of your resume. Here, you have two options: LinkedIn, and Doximity. They each have their own strengths. LinkedIn tends to be more visible on Google, but Doximity has staff members to help you enter your information into their system.

Then, I would go to a Google service called Google My Business, which allows you to feed in your practice information to Google.

Once you do those things, stop. Ask yourself, “What are my goals for social media?” Is it educating patients? Is it connecting and learning from colleagues? Is it advocating for a cause, or is it debating health care reform? As you gradually become more comfortable with being visible online, you could incrementally adopt those social media platforms that fit those goals.

A next step for some could be just going on Twitter and listening to what people have to say. You don’t have to contribute a thing.

Then, there will be a few who take the next step of sharing their own content. It could be reliable health information, or interesting health stories. You can share this content on Twitter, or on Facebook.

Then there will be a few who would create their own content. It could be an article on a blog, or a video on YouTube.

If nothing about social media energizes you, or you simply don’t have the time, you can stop after creating your profiles on LinkedIn or Doximity, as well as Google My Business, because just those acts alone are tremendously powerful.

A LinkedIn profile, for instance, gets ranked high in Google searches, and can push down the effects of negative news stories and negative ratings. Google My Business gives you prominent right column visibility.

The goal is to dominate the search engine rankings for your name, so you’re in control of the information that comes up when patients Google you. The more social media platforms that you engage in, the bigger your online presence will be.

Kevin Pho is an internal medicine physician and co-author of Establishing, Managing, and Protecting Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices. He is on the editorial board of contributors, USA Today, and is founder and editor, KevinMD.com, also on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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