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Monday, 4 June 2012

Nurses: Are You Using Social Media?

Social media is a great tool for nurses to collaborate with other nurses and healthcare professionals. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are great resources for nurses because they are peer-to-peer networks that thrive on social communication and act as a virtual community.

Today, 8 out of 10 nurses in America are on social media. Right now nurses are on Facebook connecting with their friends online or Tweeting about their day, but there is untapped potential in using social media professionally.

What is the untapped potential in using social media to interact with other nurses?

There are over 19.3 million nurses worldwide, and many are already online. What could be better or easier than reaching out to such a vast number of nurses than through social media? In the past, nurses have relied on conferences to meet and interact with nurses from the rest of the country and around the world, but now social media can transform networking for nurses and bring it to the computer screen.

Here are some great tips for nurses to get started using Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media sites professionally:
  1. Share your thoughts and ideas and follow other nurses online to build your own nursing community
  2. Interact with healthcare companies and hospitals to find out about news, trends , and current issues in healthcare
  3. Think outside of the box and create a Twitter “network” about a topic that is important to you

Share your thoughts and ideas

Social media thrives on sharing information. Your followers want to hear what you have to say and they want to hear it often!

Blogging can be a great way for nurses to share thoughts and ideas, but it can be challenge to set a weekly appointment to sit down and write a blog. This is why Twitter is such a great tool for nurses – it’s microblogging in 140 characters or less. Instead of sitting down at the end of a shift to draft an 800 word blog, nurses can Tweet out a small tidbit of information in less than a minute, from virtually anywhere.

A Tweet by Nurse Alice

Last month, Nurse Alice took to her Twitter account to share her message about smoking to get the word out on Proposition 29, the California Cancer Research Act. Her Tweet was quick, simple, and got her point across immediately. It’s no-sweat sharing! Not only that, but Nurse Alice has a following of almost 700 Twitter users, many of which are nurses.

Twitter isn’t the only platform that nurses can use to share information. There are hundreds of nursing communities in the social media universe just waiting for you to get active and share your experiences online. Some networks to try are Facebook, LinkedIn,, and more.

Social media is also a great way to hear what other nurses around the world are saying. Interacting with nurses with different interests, concerns, and specialties allows you to learn and bring your newfound knowledge to your hospital.

There’s no limit to how many people or pages you can ‘like’ on Facebook or follow on Twitter. So cast your net wide and embrace your social media potential!

Interact with healthcare companies and hospitals

What better way to find out about new products than right on your Facebook newsfeed? Social media offers a direct line to healthcare companies and hospitals where you can hear about trends and new developments in healthcare. The news is delivered right to your screen on social media sites you’re already active on and using, and eliminates the need to wade through piles of press releases on Google just to get the scoop.

UPMC used Facebook to help publicize  its new Concussion Program headquarters

As more and more healthcare companies are joining the ranks of social media, sites like Facebook and Twitter will become the gateway for people to interact with companies. Nurses can take to Facebook to comment on press releases, PR campaigns, and more. Social Media is a great tool to get noticed by healthcare companies and become an advocate for products you love.

Think outside the box

There’s a lot of talk about “hashtags” when it comes to Twitter. Though they may seem complicated or pointless at first glance, they are a great social media tool. For example, a Tweet with hashtags may look like this:

                Social media is an awesome tool for nurses! #nurses #rnsocialmedia

Hashtags are what Twitter uses to categorize each Tweet and helps users find relevant content. Users can click on these tags to pull up what others are saying on Twitter using the same hashtag. This is especially handy when you are interested in something newsworthy like #election2012.
Hashtags have so many practicalities for nurses.

For starters, nurses using Twitter to share news can add hashtags such as #nursingnews to individual Tweets. When users search for #nursingnews, these and other similar Tweets pop up in the user’s search feed. Hashtags are a great way to get noticed and a great way to find others Tweeting similar ideas.

Beyond just individual Tweets, hashtags can be used to create a Twitter network of nurses. Phil Baumann, a registered nurse and technological consultant, became a social media pioneer when he established #RNchat, “The World’s First Twitter Chat for Nurses.” RNchat is a weekly chat that uses hashtags to connect nurses from around the Twitterverse. How it works is that each Thursday, Baumann will post the discussion topic on the @RNchat account and encourages nurses to interact and respond through the #RNchat hashtag. These Tweets can be found by typing #RNchat in the Twitter search.

A Twitter conversation between @RNchat and a contributing member

#RNchat is a great example of how nurses can use social media in unique ways. A great way to network with likeminded nurses using Twitter is to take cues from #RNchat and establish your own Twitter network using hashtags.

Here are some ideas to get started: #mentalhealthRN #pediatricRN.

Take advantage of social media and its many opportunities. For more information, consult our guide Social Media 101: A Nurse’s Guide to Getting Started on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, available for download below:

Download Social Media 101: A Nurse’s Guide to Getting Started on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+
Download our guide

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