Social media is a fact of life in today’s world. Whether posting pictures of the family pet on Instagram, staying in touch with high school friends on Facebook or sharing witty thoughts on Twitter, almost everyone has had some exposure to social media.
However, social media can be an excellent tool for hepatologists to stay in touch with colleagues, share or discover new research articles or inform patients about the latest treatment modalities, according to Sonal Kumar, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Director of Clinical Hepatology at Weill Cornell Medical College and Hepatology Social Media Editor of AASLD’s Communications and Technology Committee.
To better educate AASLD members on how to leverage social media in their work life, the Communications and Technology Committee is using funding received from the AASLD Innovation Fund to establish the Social Media Essentials Project.
“We set forth some goals to increase the number of people that are engaging with AASLD on social media and then also position the offerings that are included as a member benefit of AASLD,” said Dr. Kumar.
As part of the committee’s work, several educational sessions will be offered by social media guru Jim Spellos this week during The Liver Meeting® at the Tech Bar. (See sidebar schedule of sessions.)
Additionally, the committee is preparing a social media guide for healthcare professionals that will be offered as a member benefit of AASLD. Materials created for the Social Media Essentials project will be members-only content on the website accessible via aasld.org/socialmedia, according to Wick Davis, Director of Digital Media for AASLD.
The Communications and Technology Committee assessed member usage and familiarity of social media through online surveys and phone interviews to determine how the Project could provide the most benefit to members.
“What we found is that a lot of people know what Twitter and Facebook are, but they don’t actually use them. We used that data to help create a social media plan for everyone. We divided people into two categories: those who are already engaged and those who need to be convinced of the value of social media,” said Dr. Kumar.
She noted that most members understand the value of social media, but many are apprehensive about its usage as a professional resource. Privacy issues, lack of time and general reluctance all play a role in social media avoidance.
“We just want people to know the importance of using social media. There is a way to accurately and within legal parameters use social media to enhance your career, reputation and knowledge. The more hepatologists that are on it the more you have to gain because you are getting more information out there,” said Dr. Kumar.
Social media offers the advantage of staying up-to-date on new developments in the liver world, whether they are research results, drug approval or new treatment options.
“That all gets tweeted or is on Facebook is in real time. That’s really helpful,” she said. “A lot of the information I get comes through social media and if something is of interest to me I can just click on the link and go read it.”
Dr. Kumar noted that social media also offers the advantage of allowing her the option to easily keep in touch with colleagues at other institutions or connections she makes at The Liver Meeting® year-round.
“It’s not going away. You should get involved,” she added.