These doctors are killing it on social media

These doctors are ‘killing it’ on social media

It’s not just techies, managers and media professionals who are busy upskilling themselves, a few doctors have joined the bandwagon too 

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A Bengaluru-based digital marketing institute received an unlikely request three months ago — to train medical professionals on how to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Quora effectively. The request had come in from Dr Jagdish Chinnappa, a leading paediatrician from Bengaluru, who felt doctors must engage with users online to bust misinformation and empower them with the right knowledge in matters related to health and wellness.

And so, Suresh Babu of the academy, co-designed the social media training for doctors course along with Dr Chinnappa and a month later, he had started training 15 medicos online, comprising paediatricians with 40+ years of experience, cardiac surgeons, general physicians, assistants to doctors and a young graduate from Bengaluru. Each had paid Rs 9,000 for the 20-hour course that concluded in July.

More online presence means more clients, isn’t it? Dr Chinnappa begged to differ, “A few patients did reach out to me after my Facebook Live session on World Hepatitis Day (July 28) but we didn’t hold this training to get more patients. We want to use social media to fight fake news that’s aplenty online. Some websites claim it’s safe for children to go to playgrounds during the pandemic. No, it’s not. There’s also a debate on whether schools should open or not. So we want medical professionals to go online to put up the right information in the public interest and share their point of view on issues concerning our field.”

Now, Dr Chinnappa is tweeting once a day and has uploaded three videos on the topics of pandemic and parenting on YouTube. His new-found social media skills are working, as he makes the case, “I tweeted about the issue of black marketing of Covid-19 drugs and it was picked up in the news.” So how many followers does he have? “We have just entered this pond,” he ducked the question.

Babu admits he was appalled to see how little these doctors know about the tools, behaviour and impact of social media. “They are super busy people,” he thought. “We saw social media as a waste of time,” Dr Chinnapa came out frank. So Babu started the course by explaining how people search for medical information online. “They first come to Google, which tends to rank video answers and Quora comments above else,” he told them and then asked them to look up ‘PeopleAlsoAsk’ and auto-complete features on Google as well as answerthepublic.com to get a sense of the questions netizens are looking answers for. 

On the social media front, it’s as important to make their message discoverable as it is to use every platform uniquely, they were told. So lessons on SEO-friendly keywords and hashtags in their bio, title, and content, and right tags were doled out. "The title of your YouTube video should contain a long tail keyword, comprising of at least three words. 'Social Media Training' is one such example," Babu shared. They were told to use Twitter to comment on news and trending stories, Instagram to connect with youngsters with short videos on mental health issues and hospital life, YouTube for long explainers or sharing patient success stories, Quora to answer specific queries, LinkedIn for personal branding, and Facebook for everything. “Don’t shy from recycling a single content into text, picture story, video show and podcast, or reposting or cross-posting them. It will increase your discoverability, credibility and your network,” Babu summed up while sharing that Dr Chinnappa had designed the module on ethical conduct and breaches on social media for doctors.

During the course, camera-shy paediatrician Surya G Krishnan made her debut on YouTube as also in podcasting. Another paediatrician Dr Gunda Srinivas believes “telemedicine, which became big during the Covid-19 world, would only get bigger,” so he’s happy to have revived his dormant social media accounts. The word about this social media training has gone out in their network and the second round is due in the third week of September. “It would be a shorter, one-day course this time,” confirms Dr Chinnappa. “With doctors from different cities,” Babu adds.