Are You Watching Your Online Presence?

Keeping on top of your digital footprint doesn’t have to be boring. JuneSocial1

June 2015
“Social media is a mindset, not just a channel,” explained Safwan S. Halabi, MD, at Sunday’s ACR 2015 session “Creative Applications for Social Media in Medical Imaging.”

Halabi, Director of Imaging Informatics at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, and his colleagues, Asim F. Choudhri, MD, assistant professor of radiology at  Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis, and C. Matthew Hawkins, MD, assistant professor of pediatric vascular/interventional radiology at  Emory University in Atlanta, examined the growing influence of social media and explained how, with a little savvy, radiologists can and absolutely should, manage these platforms to their professional advantage.

When it comes to social media, “The train has already left the station,” said Halabi. Even if you do not engage personally in social media, you most likely still have an online footprint due to the growing trend of auto-generated online profiles created by such sites as and, which provides information to US News for its annual ratings. If you’re not engaging in social media yourself, he warned, “somebody else will do it for you.”

More than one-third of all consumers now use social media for health-related information and pre-commerce (researching an individual or service prior to any in-person interaction) is quickly becoming the norm. And as with any initial meeting, said Hawkins, you want your first impression to be a good one. Keeping that in mind, here are five ways to manage your social media presence:

  1. Google yourself and take inventory of how many online profiles exist for you, suggested Choudhri. While most sites will not remove negative content, you can (and should) request that incorrect information be updated. “The only thing worse than having no social media presence is having an outdated one,” said Hawkins.
  2. Learn the leading social media sites and their audiences and tailor your presence to reach your target demographic, said Halabi. For example, Facebook has the broadest reach, Pinterest skews female, and LinkedIn attracts an older and more professional demographic.
  3. If (and when) you engage with an audience through social media, be prepared to respond immediately and on multiple platforms, said Halabi. You can use online resources such as Hootsuite to manage multiple accounts simultaneously.
  4. If your facility or practice wants to engage in social media via a platform such as a blog, it’s important to develop an infrastructure (such as content and governance committees) to help manage the design, scope, and content of the site. It’s also important to allocate enough resources so that it can be updated frequently with relevant and engaging content, explained Hawkins.
  5. Better to stay safe than sorry. Protect accounts by ensuring that you have a two-step verification process (such as a password and a phone number or other unique identifier). A hacked account can “cause a lot of havoc,” said Halabi.

If used and managed effectively, social media can help radiologists gain insight from interactions, distinguish themselves from other providers, and enhance their reputation and marketability. A good place to start is the monthly JACR tweet chat, where you’ll meet radiologists and other members of the health system who gather to discuss a different topic each month. Get more information here.


By Makeba Scott Hunter, managing editor of the JACR®

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