Thomas Wong, OD, FNAP, is an Associate Clinical Professor at the SUNY College of Optometry serving as both the Director of Clinical Externships and New Technologies focused on innovative ophthalmic technologies improving patient outcomes, ocular disease, contact lenses, bioethics, clinical research, and medical informatics.
Having a presence on social media is not absolutely necessary to run a successful practice, but it can be a valuable tool in connecting with patients and diverse communities. If used wisely, social media can help grow a practice.
As human beings, we are by nature social beings and have an innate desire for shared experiences. But what is the allure of social media because we are fearful of the dangers of having our information on the Internet?
It has been over 10 years since Facebook exploded onto the scene, and the Internet went 2.0, allowing for more interactive communication.1 Some optometrists actively avoid all forms of social media. Understanding social and professional media (e.g., LinkedIn) plays an important role for ODs or any physicians who wants to better understand and communicate with their patients, colleagues, and staff.
Previously from Dr. Wong: Using virtual reality in your practice
Having a presence on social media is not absolutely necessary to run a successful practice, but it can be a valuable tool in connecting with patients and diverse communities. If used wisely, social media can help grow a practice.2
Maximizing your network is the key to ODs reaping the benefits of social media. As a professional, I do not post any information about myself or my practice that I would not want to see on the front page of TheWashington Post or The New York Times.
We ODs are professionals-posting something that would diminish the public’s trust in us would be irresponsible. Professional students, new ODs, and experienced ODs should regularly review their postings on social media to make sure that language, photos, and videos are appropriate.3
During professional optometric programs, residencies, or fellowship programs, many ODs develop lifelong friends, colleagues, and mentors from their faculty, fellow classmates, and fellow residents. Most ODs will have experiences in several different practices, different settings, and even different careers throughout their professional lives.
Having a current curriculum vitae (CV) and LinkedIn profile can help an OD find new job or practice opportunities.4 Practices are spending more time on their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.
After Facebook surpassed MySpace, it became a major force in all forms of communication and marketing. While Facebook may still be the most important social media vehicle, it is now one of many social media vehicles commonly used by the public today.
Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, and Snapchat occupy important social media niches. Facebook is very similar to websites over 10 years ago. Websites are still important repositories for a business-like an optometric practice-to manage social media vehicles and provide information for patients and the public. In the next 10 years, the use of social media will become even more commonplace.5
The use of Facebook and Twitter has become integral to many practices.6 Most patients will spend significant time on social media, but websites and other hardcopy options to educate your patients still play an important role.
Understanding and utilizing social media is essential to connecting with your patients’ communities.
ODs and other healthcare professionals’ careers are constantly evolving. ODs practice in many different modalities:
• Private practice
• Ophthalmology practices
• VA hospitals
• Community health centers
• Multidisciplinary centers
• Corporate and other employed practices
• Government agencies
In addition, interest in optometry’s role in medical missions, public service, clinical research, and professional associations continues to grow.
Patients have loved seeing plaques, awards, and pictures in their ODs’ offices. Patients often find comfort in their OD being a respected member of the community. Social media allows us to enhance that connection. In my opinion, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube are the most important social media vehicles for an OD in practice today.
Google’s search engine and ownership of YouTube make it a powerful source of information and video content.7 Patients often prefer to see short videos rather than reading long, difficult-to-understand articles. Twitter allows for patients to follow newsfeeds in shorter, easier-to-manage segments. Facebook continues to evolve and is often the first choice in all things, e.g. photos, videos, and newsfeeds. Instagram offers an easier way for users to share photos and short videos if the massive amount of content on Facebook is overwhelming.
In 2017, successful use of social media lies in the use and integration of multiple platforms. Social and professional media provides ODs opportunities to have meaningful connections with patient communities.
1. Peters L. Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains. Elearningeuropa. March 2011. Available at:
. Accessed 9/8/17.
2. Usher WT. Australian health professionals’ social media (Web 2.0) adoption trends: early 21st century health care delivery and practice promotion. Aust J Prim Health. 2012;18(1):31-41.
3. Carman C, Totten D. Social Media Recommendations. American Optometric Association. Available at: https://www.aoa.org/about-the-aoa/ethics-and-values/social-media-recommendations?sso=y&ct=c012d62f494d0750b08458031cecfa4ef8edcd9ac4d612ee5ff7e9d0fab21cb1f09c861f486963a656d6a7721b819fe283d674d0c757c90403252e805c90512a. Accessed 9/8/17.
4. Honigman B. 9 ways to Market Your Medical or Dental Practice with LinkedIn. referral md. Available at: https://getreferralmd.com/2013/09/linkedin-marketing-doctors/. Accessed 9/8/17.
5. Baron, NS. Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World. Oxford University Press. 2008. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/200772850_Always_On_Language_in_an_Online_and_Mobile_World. Accessed 9/8/17.
6. Eyecarepro. How Dr. Alan Glazier Uses Social Media to (very) Successfully Promote his Practice! Available at: https://www.eyecarepro.net/newsletter/how-dr-alan-glazier-uses-social-media-very-successfully-promote-his-practice. Accessed 9/8/17.
7. Mason S. The Importance of Using Video Content on Social Media. Multiview. Available at: https://www.multiview.com/resources/blog/importance-using-video-content-social-media/. Accessed 9/8/17.