The internet has become a very social experience – social networks, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter provide an easy way to keep in touch and keep up with news and developments. At the same time, social networks are so much more than an opportunity to be in touch with friends and colleagues, there are also a great platform for professional discussions, global networking, job hunting, profiling and forming partnerships.No wonder, with 901,000,000 users, Facebook has ceased to be just a playground for college students. In fact, according to the March 2012 Study conducted by Online MBA, 46% of all Facebook users are over 45. On LinkedIn, this percentage is even higher, nearing 50%. The majority of those who use social media have completed college or postgraduate education and have medium to high-income jobs.
All in all, it is estimated, that over 66% of adult online users are connected through social platforms. With such high-potential demographic statistics, companies and organisations are eager to communicate through these channels. And it is through social network that time-sensitive information and “special offers” are often communicated. Whether we are talking about fellowship application deadlines or reduced registration offers – social media is often the channel of choice.
How can urologists use social media to achieve professional goals? There are many ways to approach this, but first and foremost it is important to decide whether you will be using social media as an individual urologists, as a representative of an organisation (society, hospital department, university department, research group etc.) or as an organiser of an event.
If you already have a Facebook account, you can “like” all sorts of pages created by urology interest groups or associations. That way you can easily follow their updates and news all in one place – on your own Facebook feed. You can, for example “like” the EAU on Facebook, follow and comment on all our activities, post your questions, talk to other urologists who “like” the page, and post photos and reports directly on our page. For example, if you attended the EAU Congress, you can post you photos from the congress on our page – it is always great to see various perspectives of the same event as experienced by other people. Many of the other urology associations, as well as pharmaceutical and medical technology companies are also on Facebook so it is a great way to network and come in contact with people interested in the same field of work.
If you are representing an organisation, however big or small, and still don’t have a Facebook page – consider starting one. You can easily do it from your personal profile. This is a good opportunity not only to communicate your own information to your audience, but also get feedback from them. It is also an opportunity to be a little less formal in your communication – what is not always suitable for the official website, such as backstage impressions from your latest event – will be well received on a Facebook page.
This microblogging site makes it easy to follow short updates from all the people and organisations that you find interesting. It is great for people who don’t have a lot of time, so the just screen through all the latest news in a quick glance. If you are active in research or teaching – this is a great way to attract audience to the information your produce and also to profile yourself in the digital world of urology.
If you are representing a company, you can organise tweetchats with those who follow you to discuss an issue or event. One large professional association set up a tweetchat about their accreditation programme, which was a useful means for people to get all their questions answered and promote the programme among the potential candidates.
The EAU actively uses Twitter during its events – especially the EAU Congress and the Urology Week. For example during the last congress, the EAU and more than 200 congress participants marked all their updates with #eau12. This way we could all see the photos, opinions and expressions in one Twitter feed, which we conveniently integrated into the congress website for everybody to see. This made the EAU Congress more human, we heard a lot of useful feedback and it was also a great platform for everybody to post their impressions as the day progressed.
You can find the EAU on Twitter under the name @uroweb.
LinkedIn is a social network which allows people to build professional contacts and maintain their professional portfolio. LinkedIn is all-in-one: it offers an easy tool to maintain your online resume, an opportunity to grow professionally, participate in professional discussions and meet new people in your line of work. Organisations are also allowed to profile themselves in two different ways. They can have a company page which is more like a short profile and they can also have their own group, where discussions, promotions, polls and event announcement can take be hosted. The EAU has one such groups, as do many other national and international associations.