In this locked down and socially distant world, we’ve come to rely on digital platforms and the Internet for both our personal and professional relationships. However, who are you professionally — as well as the company you work for and represent — may differ from your personal pastimes.
When used properly, these digital platforms can provide marketing and networking opportunities for ophthalmologists and industry professionals. To learn how to optimize social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as get the most out of virtual meetings, we chat with Nick Sideris, a refractive business development manager and a digital and social media expert for Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. (dually headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, and Santa Ana, California, USA).
Top 10 Tips to Optimize Your Ophthalmic Online Presence
- Provide Value. “One of my friends is a brilliant networker,” said Mr. Sideris. “Everytime he goes to a big meeting, he asks two questions: 1) What are some things you’re working on right now that you’re excited about; and 2) How can I help with that?”
This is a great opening, because as Mr. Sideris says, “Everyone’s favorite topic is themselves . . . and most high-level people are working on some cool stuff. Maybe you can help, maybe you can’t — maybe your only help is a word of encouragement, or you might know someone doing something similar and you could connect them — and this adds value,” he explained.
- Set a Profile Photo. Now that all physical meetings are on hold, profile photos are important. Mr. Sideris illustrates this point with an example from the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) virtual meeting: “When ASCRS had their networking piece, most people didn’t have a profile picture uploaded. So, the people who did — that told me that ‘hey, this person is actually open to networking.’”
Therefore, the simple action of adding a photo can make a big difference in maintaining a more personal connection.
- Set a Goal. For surgeons, Mr. Sideris says two main goals for using social media are to either attract patients or build a key opinion leader (KOL) portfolio. “When I post [something], I ask: ‘Is this going to help a doctor achieve his end goal? Will this be effective and show results, like getting new patients? If the answer is ‘no,’ then I know I’m just putting ‘fluff’ out there, and I need to pull back from that.
“From a networking perspective, you need to add value — that’s the overarching theme,”
- Choose Your Platform Wisely. Not all social media platforms are equal. For example, Tik-Tok skews to a much younger demographic, Facebook provides a good platform to reach potential patients, and sites like Twitter and LinkedIn provide better opportunities for networking. Determine who you’re trying to reach, then select your platform according to that audience.
- Pay Attention to New Features. It seems like Facebook is always rolling out new features and updates. Mr. Sideris says it’s important to pay attention to these and take advantage of them. “Something I noticed is that when Facebook does outbound advertising on a specific feature, that’s what we want to pay attention to because they’re going to give it preference in the algorithms.”
“A few years ago, this happened with Facebook Live — no one was really using it. So, convinced [my client] to do a live surgery . . . and to my knowledge, we were one of the first to publish any kind of live surgery on Facebook.”
So, how did it go? He said the video received 7,700 views, which was considered a great success.
- Remember, the Internet is Permanent. Even if you delete it, it can still live on. Mr. Sideris suggests adding this filter: “If this were read in a court of law, is it okay for me to be posting this?”
At Johnson & Johnson, Mr. Sideris says they post with intention, use the company
hashtag, and link the ISI information. “This is something doctors really need to be
cognizant of,” he shared.
- Err on the Side of Caution. There are a lot of factors that go into this, geographical, religious, political . . . and these days, it can be easy to offend. “The problem today is that social media is just so divisive, and it’s so divided on every topic that literally no matter what you say, there’s going to be someone in opposition,” said Mr. Sideris.
“I spoke a couple years ago at AAO (American Academy of Ophthalmology) on the Christian Ophthalmology Society platform and shared my story from a Christian perspective, and I was fine. This is who I am, this is what I’m going to post . . . but again you just have to be really cautious.”
- Don’t be Afraid to Reach Out. This especially applies to digital conferences. The exhibitors and attendees are there to network, so reach out for a virtual handshake.
“It’s absolutely appropriate to reach out to someone — and I think we need to try to
make it as close to in-person as possible,” he explained.
- Show Your Human Side. For patients, seeing a doctor share a joke with friends can make them more attractive (from a patient perspective).
“If a patient is looking up a surgeon and they see their Twitter feed, and they are making memes or jokes about the clogs or ‘Crocs’ they have to wear in the OR . . . or another surgeon went on Facebook Live talking about eye health while walking on the treadmill … there’s a human aspect in that,” he said. “In patients’ minds, doctors are up on a pedestal, but when they bring themselves to an everyday level, it’s personal and it really connects.”
- Think Outside the Box and Create Interesting Content. “Something I tell practices is to make sure their Facebook page isn’t a ‘stuffy, boring doctor’s office.’ No one is going to engage and interact with that. The tendency is to only feature eye health news, which can be boring . . . no one interacts with it,” said Mr. Sideris.