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    Five social media tools to save you time

    Since 87% of adults are using the Internet, we can safely call this the age of digital communication. For health care professionals, this means that your patients are no longer stopping by in person to “try you out;” they’re finding out everything they can about you online. If you recently have not Googled your name, you should. What you see in your search is what patients will see about you. So what does this mean?

    More from Dr. Brahmbhatt: 7 social media platforms every urologist should use

    One, you need to have a professional online presence. Two, that presence needs to be active. The problem for physicians is, with all our clinical obligations, we don’t have time to manage social media. You probably wish someone would come along, say “ta-da,” and fix the problem in a matter of minutes. Believe it or not, that scenario is entirely possible. If you use the right tools, you can take 10 minutes out of your morning (or on weekends) to prepare and activate your entire social media presence for the week. Try these five tools to stay active online—without affecting your clinical and personal time.

    1. Buffer

    Buffer is the solution to the problem of continually posting content. Instead of posting articles individually, you can use Buffer to pre-load a queue and schedule what you want to post on social media days or weeks in advance. Pre-loading your posts will allow you to stay “active” during the day without disrupting your usual clinical routine.

    First, you can establish your ideal posting schedule or you can just tell Buffer to find the best times for you (my preference). Then, Buffer will post the next article or image in your queue when that time slot rolls around. All you have to do is keep the queue full of content to publish, a task made easy by Buffer’s Feeds feature.

    Under the Feeds tab, you can add a bunch of websites and blogs in your field. As soon as those sites post new content, it will show up in the Buffer feed. From there, just find an article in the feed that you want to share with your friends and followers, click “Add,” and watch as the article gets placed in your queue.

    Pick a few medical sites you respect, add them to your feeds, and you’ll be set up to post content to social media at the touch of a button. The buffer app for smart phones also makes it easy to schedule posts based on what you are reading on Facebook, Google News, or other websites.

    2. Canva

    Canva is like having a graphic designer in your pocket. A lot of the cool graphics and motivational quotes you see online are created using this online graphic design platform. There are free and paid versions of Canva available for the desktop or smart phones.

    The app helps your create general or specific images based on your social media platform of choice—Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. You can create blog graphics that can display visually appealing statistics from your newest research article or cancer statistics.

    Here is an example of a motivational graphic created in 2 minutes on my phone. There are other similar apps on the market but, I find Canva to be the most user friendly.

    Recommended - Social media: Why you need to be involved

    3. Crowdfire

    Crowdfire is an app that helps you “find, follow, and unfollow Twitter and Instagram users.”

    More specifically, the app helps you weed through your Twitter and Instagram follows and followers and add or cut strategically. You’re notified if an account you’re following hasn’t been active for months, so you can retract that follow. Additionally, the app notifies you when someone unfollows you, allowing you to piece together their reason for doing so.

    Crowdfire also has a few time-saving features. It can be used as an automated friend manager. This feature follows a broad base of recommended people and unfollows someone when it senses inactivity. You can whitelist or blacklist any accounts you want.

    Besides Twitter, Crowdfire can also help you manage your Instagram account. Like Buffer, you can add photos to the queue to post later at assigned times. This is a hands-off feature that you can control in less than 10 minutes.

    4. Google News & Alerts

    Today there are a million resources for the latest medical news. I keep my search simple with Google News. I have tabs created for my topics of choice: health, urology, testicular pain, infertility. You can adjust your preferences to even receive emails when there is breaking news on your topic of choice. From the app you can use the services mentioned above to pre-post or live post to your social media of choice.

    I would also recommend setting up an alert with your name. When you are quoted in the news or someone mentions you in a blog, your likely to get an alert. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s better than nothing! Plus, it’s automatic once its setup.

    5. Hootsuite

    I’m a big fan of Twitter chats. These online chats are virtually impossible to stay on top of if you do them directly on twitter. I use Hootsuite to keep track of hashtags of interest to me on a daily basis or during twitter chats. Hootsuite can also be used to manage your social media platforms all under one umbrella. You can even track your competitors or persons of interest.

    Related: Twitter's benefits extend beyond 'social' aspects

    Conclusion

    These tools are fantastic for helping you maintain an online social presence. Take advantage of them. There are new social media platforms popping up daily. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, I would first focus on the big three: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

    Don’t neglect your personal connections either. Get your whole office (or family) involved in sparking ideas for your own content and curating outside articles. They can help you find unique things to post from outside or inside the office while maintaining patient confidentiality, of course.

    You don’t have to shoulder all of the time and effort on your own. Use the tools at your disposal to stay relevant on social media, and fortunately, staying relevant shouldn’t take you more than 10 minutes.


    Want to see a sample of the type of content you can post? Check out my social media profiles:

    https://www.facebook.com/jaminbrahmbhatt

    https://twitter.com/jaminbrahmbhatt

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrahmbhatt

    https://www.instagram.com/jaminbrahmbhatt 

    Jamin Brahmbhatt, MD
    Dr. Brahmbhatt is co-director of The PUR Clinic (Personalized Urology & Robotics) at South Lake Hospital, Clermont, FL.

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