Feeling like it's hard to stay on top of new information in our practice? Feeling like you're the only one working in your area? Want to be more involved, but don't know where to start? Social media can help.
In the January/February issue of your magazine Physiotherapy Practice, we profiled five social media leaders from around the world. We are pleased to bring you the extended interviews that helped develop the article for the magazine. You can access the magazine online at:
Tell us about how you became active in social media?
I initially became involved with social media back when Facebook was quite new and used mostly for sharing pictures and family events. As it grew and the activities expanded exponentially with professional users, the number and quality of professional pages and groups also grew. It quickly became apparent that there really was no better way to instantly connect with colleagues and potential collaborators across the world. I now use social media almost exclusively for professional purposes (in addition to the odd Star Wars post). In fact, as a researcher, I would estimate that close to 50% of what I’m doing now has come as a direct result of social media networking. Pretty powerful!
Tell us about the moment when you realised social media was a useful knowledge translation tool.
Part of the requirements of being a professor is that I need to collect data on my publications for the purposes of tenure, promotion, and salary merits. Journal sites will now allow you to track the number of views, downloads, and citations of your articles. Typically over a five year period, my research articles would get maybe 2000 reads (tracking the abstracts only), 100 or so downloads, and maybe 10-20 citations. I started blogging and vlogging (video blogging) about my research/practical findings, and those of others, and sharing these through social media about three years ago. My best blog posts will have over 10,000 reads and up to 150-300 social media shares – all within a month or so of publication. Social media allows for a wider audience of people that will actually use and benefit from the information (ie. clinicians as opposed to just researchers).
What do you consider before you decide to share, repost, post, say, etc.?
This is a tough, but important question. I will often share or re-tweet posts for many reasons, but only some of them are because I actually agree with the content. Sometimes, it’s just so that I can read it later or find it funny. It is very easy for a follower to infer that a retweet or share constitutes endorsement. I have had a few situations where such a share has been interpreted incorrectly and have needed to become more discrete about sharing others’ work. I usually share research findings liberally, but opinion pieces need to be read first and commented upon to provide context.
What advice would you give health professionals who are interested in using social media for knowledge translation?
First of all, do it. I’ve found it extremely powerful for idea generation, knowledge sharing, and networking. Search to find a few profiles/pages/groups from people that are sharing interesting information, follow them, then also see who they follow. There are great pages, people, and groups sharing some great information. Be care of “the suck”, though. You know, the great pull that sucks you into the nitty gritty details of everyone’s lives. To avoid having to see constant posts about what Sally ate today or what Joe did at the gym, be selective about your follows, and create lists of the people you want to hear from. You can also “flag” or “favourite” the fruitful accounts so you see them first. Next, engage with those you follow or are in groups with. Getting a worldwide view on different topics of interest can really be eye opening.
Where can people follow you on Social Media and/or what are the top 5 “social media accounts” to follow?
So if you want to give social media a try for gathering and sharing information for your practice, you can start with following the CPA Division that you are a member of (e.g. Pain Science @painphysioscan). Once you figure out who the leaders in your area of practice are, check out who they follow. You will slowly build up your network and start being exposed to many learning opportunities.
If you love this, check out the Physiotherapy Practice social media issue here.