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Top three Myths About Using Social Media

In many ways, the potential of social media as a communication tool is misunderstood, if not underestimated. While professionals tend to use LinkedIn as their digital networking platform of choice, social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook can also be used to build networks, share information, be a part of trending conversations, and connect in an increasingly technological world. While often considered to be geared toward more personal interactions, Twitter and Facebook hold significant potential for individuals who are looking to bolster their professional presence online or build their personal brand, and are often great supplemental tools to LinkedIn.

As social media manager for Healthier Hospitals and Health Care Without Harm, I bring three years of experience in developing strategic communication materials for organizational social media accounts. I also maintain my own public Twitter account, which I use to engage with other professionals in my field, and be a part of dialogues around topics that interest me both professionally and personally. Finding my online professional voice through social media has been a rewarding opportunity, though navigating through hashtags, trends, and making statements in 140 characters or less can be intimidating! Below, I’ve debunked the three biggest “myths” about social media use. I hope that these can help overcome anxiety around social media, and encourage you to find your own voice on social media.

1. Social media is for Millennials

I am a “millennial”. According to Dictionary.com, that means that I reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st century. For my Generation-X colleagues, being a millennial means that I’m the social media sage. But the truth is that anyone can be a social media sage! Using social media is a great way to share news, contribute to trending conversations, and expand your social network—regardless of age.

2. Social media is time-consuming

Most organizations have a designated social media manager. For Healthier Hospitals, that’s me. And while strategic social media engagement for a program or an organization can take time—you have to be on top of breaking developments in your industry, and follow up with people engaging with your organization on social media—having and maintaining personal/professional social media accounts is a small time investment, with a big-time return. With programs like Hootsuite, which allow you to schedule posts for your different social media accounts in advance, you can load your stories, quotes, and posts for the week on Sunday night. You can check-in once per day to engage with new followers, but the bulk of your work can be done in advance.

3. Social media is either personal or for businesses

While my Facebook is personal, my Twitter is what I like to call “personal-professional.” This means that I tweet a lot on healthcare and sustainability topics, but I’ll also tweet my personal insights on things like the Presidential debates, or the upcoming Star Wars film. This gives me a personable online presence, allowing me to access and engage with a wide range of audiences. The key with social media is engagement: share articles or news stories, and mention (“tag”) other members that you think would be interested in that topic. So if you want to share a breaking story on climate resiliency, you might mention organizations that are doing that work in your post. From there, you can start a conversation, build your audience, and share information.

Ready to get started, but don’t even have a Twitter or Facebook account? Not a problem! Join my sharing call, Social Media for Beginners, which I’m hosting with Practice Greenhealth on September 10th at 3pm. This call is for everyone from the true beginner, to those who are looking to “brush up” on social media engagement. I’ll be walking through the basics of using Facebook and Twitter, and will go over some straightforward tips for engagement (like demystifying the hashtag!). Bring your questions, because I’ll be leaving plenty of time open for general Q&A. Register now, and I’ll talk to you on the 10th!

by Christina Quint
Program Associate, Healthier Hospitals

Christina Quint is Program Associate for Healthier Hospitals and Climate Communications Coordinator for Health Care Without Harm's Climate and Health Program. She is also a graduate student pursuing her Master's degree in Environmental Communication and Advocacy. Additionally, as the social media lead for Healthier Hospitals and Health Care Without Harm, Christina brings over three years of experience in developing communication strategies for health care sustainability and climate-related topics on social media. You can follow her on Twitter at @SustyAdvocate.

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