Ethical Marketing: The Social Media Best Practices All Doctors Should Follow

Social media, in general, requires its users to be careful about what is said and done while using it. Communication through the internet can sometimes be difficult due to misunderstandings and such. This is why it’s even more vital for businesses or professionals to remain careful while engaging with a social media platform.

If you’re a doctor or work for a doctor’s office and are interested in becoming more active online, then you’re putting your business on the right path. Social media is a huge gateway for business growth. And if done right, it’ll bring you nothing but success.

But before you hit send on that Twitter tweet, be sure to read more on the platforms many doctors use, the dangers to be aware of, and the social media best practices every doctor should follow.

Social Media Platforms for Healthcare Professionals

Professional communities on social networking sites are now established and doctors should take advantage. In the social media world, Facebook is the most widely used for general purposes, but LinkedIn is the most widely used professional networking site. Below are several other social media platforms for healthcare professionals.


Wikis are public forums online that allow its visitors to contribute to, edit, or delete the information on the site. Wikipedia is one of the most commonly used Wikis by medical professionals, which may seem surprising to some. Although more people are turning towards Wikipedia for finding their online information, some still remain hesitant to trust the site.

However, this is a good place for a doctor to join in and add information.


Blogs have been used in the medical field for quite some time now. And if you’re able to post a blog with significant and interesting information on it, you’ll reach a large audience. And if the viewers really like the blog, then there’s a possibility for them to share it with others who may then share it with someone else.

In many cases, blogs allow the viewers to make comments of their own at the bottom of the post. Medical professionals sometimes use blogs to interact with the public and other healthcare professionals.


Microblogs are brief, but they’re to the point. Twitter is the most popular form of the microblog. On Twitter, users are only allowed to type 140 characters or less before posting, which are called “Tweets.”

Within these tweets, you’ll have the ability to add in hyperlinks to other sites and hashtags that can both link to other websites or videos that your followers can follow.

Social Media Dangers for Healthcare Professionals

Although social media comes with many benefits for professionals and businesses, there are some dangers to look out for. Understand that once something is posted online, you can’t take it back, even with a delete button. The following are a few social media dangers to be aware of.

Damaging Professional Image

Remember to always keep it professional when posting online. The smallest slip up can result in damaging your professional image and ruining your business. Even when something is meant as a joke or not meant to be taken seriously, it will be.

Always use caution when deciding to post something. Any negative comments, violation of patient privacy, the use of profanity, and many other bad social media decisions can lead to a damaged professional image.

Violating the Patient-Healthcare Provider Boundary

If a patient of yours sends you a friend request on a social media platform such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or others, then it’s best to not respond. When it comes to interacting on a general social media platform like these listed above, it’s advised to not involve yourself in it at all.

Poor Quality of Information

The internet is full of poor quality information about medical topics. This is no secret. The best thing that you can do is ensure that anything you post is of the highest quality.

You’ll also want to lead your patients in the right direction towards sites, blogs, and wikis where you know they’ll be provided with accurate information.

Breaches of Patient Privacy

There are federal HIPAA and state laws that prohibit healthcare professionals from sharing patient information. There are guidelines that must be followed. And one of the biggest issues with doctors using social media is a breach of patient privacy.

In a situation where details need to be shared, consider posting only deidentified details about the case.

Social Media Guidelines for Professionals

There are many risks involved with using social media when you’re a professional, but if you know what to do and what not to do, social media can be a huge success factor. The following guidelines are several points that should be explained to employees working for you or with you.

Guidelines for HCPs

  • Have an understanding of expected responsibilities when witnessing inappropriate use of social media
  • Limit, monitor, or completely ban employee use of social media
  • Have an understanding of disciplinary actions to be taken
  • Have an understanding of expectations regarding outside work behavior
  • Ensure all employees know the state laws and federal guidelines regarding privacy

This is not an exhausted list of guidelines to follow when dealing with social media, but these are key points to keep in mind.

Successful Social Media for Healthcare Professionals

Now that we understand the negatives of social media for doctors, let’s focus on the positives. The following points are here to help you make the most out of your social media experience for your business.

  1. Engage With Your Customers- Be sure to engage with customers. This helps keep the site active and alive. Answer questions and respond to comments.
  2. Respond Promptly- Be sure to respond promptly. If you don’t respond fast enough, more often than not, a customer or patient will write you off.
  3. Know When to Post- Don’t just post whenever you can. Know when your target customers or patients are active the most and post then. This will get you the most awareness.
  4. Share Good Interactions- When patients leave good reviews or comments about your practice, be sure to share those conversations. If they leave a good review on Instagram, share it on Facebook!

Follow These Social Media Best Practices to Success

You should follow these social media best practices to ensure that you and your practice lead only to success. But for the best medical marketing advice and help, contact us today! We’ll work with you as a team to perfect your website and online presence, creating success.