With the incredible growth of Facebook© into a ubiquitous communication tool, creating a positive image for yourself on Facebook is becoming increasingly important from both a personal and a healthcare professional perspective.
Facebook is really about two things. First, it’s about your face. And second, it is, in many ways a “book.” When people come across your Facebook page, they “read” about you and click on profile images or photo albums to get a closer look at your “face.”
This activity encompasses literal and figurative, actual and perceived, factual and erroneous impressions about who you are, what you stand for and what you care about. That is why if you’re a healthcare professional, you should always make a conscious effort to put your best face (and foot) forward. Here’s some advice on how to do that:
1. Pick a good profile picture and stick with it. We’ve all seen the profile pictures with pet monkeys, close-up, macro images of hairy toes, and snapshots of glassy-eyed, partly-comatose people wielding giant beer mugs. Unless you’re trying to impress Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, it’s best to keep your profile picture neutral and innocuous enough to maintain your healthcare professional image for your boss, your neighbors and your children, not just your poker club buddies. If they’re each worth a thousand words, make sure your pictures say what you want them to say to everyone who may be listening.
2. Don’t badmouth your boss. It’s best to avoid saying bad things about anyone, but your boss, your co-workers and your regional director belong in a different power category; the category of people who can give you hell. Facebook is an exponential phenomenon. Forgetting this can make you lose face quickly.
3. Try not to whine. Some people turn Facebook into their own Gripebook. Instead of an occasional sigh about the weather, the Facebook status updates turn into a litany of diatribes, rants, slants and unsavory musings about everyone and everything. Not only does this turn Facebook into a turn-off, it takes a potentially powerful tool for spreading infectious cheer into the cyber abyss of disinhibited thoughts, to say nothing of its effect on your professional credibility.
4. Comment carefully. When you comment on someone else’s posts, what you said about so-and-so’s hair isn’t just visible to your friends. Your friends’ friends can also see and take offense to what you say. This is especially detrimental to you personally and professionally if the butt of your joke also happens to be someone who may have a role to play in the future of your career in therapy. “Hey aren’t you that person who made that comment on Facebook about me a couple of months ago?” When it comes to comments, it’s best to say nice things or not say anything at all.
As with other social media sites, Facebook has the power to connect you to others, forge stronger friendships, and create career opportunities that you wouldn’t otherwise find. It also has the power to do the exact opposite. But as long as you exercise a little caution and realize that your audience is bigger and more attentive than you can imagine, Facebook can be an excellent tool for enhancing your career as a healthcare professional.
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