Physician making online content
Physician making online content

Creative Career Path: Growing an online influence as a provider

Read PracticeLink articles by Alexandra Cappetta
Alexandra Cappetta

Table of Contents

You’ve seen it. Viral TikTok dances of doctors in the OR. Funny bits and skits from nurses or hospital staff. The dermatologist who’s made themselves known for exposing name brands and sharing product reviews with the everyday consumer.

It’s all out there. And for what could be the first time, the majority of those engaging with providers’ content online aren’t part of the health care industry or even looking for services as a patient.

In the era of TikTok and Instagram Reels, dynamics are changing, and the public can now engage directly with providers in a way that feels more personable than ever before – which creates a lot of opportunity.

If you’ve considered creating content as a physician or growing an online influence as a provider, there’s never been a time like the present to go for it. Use this inspiration to get you thinking about the content you’d have success creating.

Step One: Know the value of your personal brand

When you post anything on any platform, not only are you speaking to current or future employers, patients and people within your community but also to the millions beyond.

Your personal brand is how you appear to others and the identity they associate with your work, your personality and your beliefs and values; essentially, it’s what makes you who you are. But just like with any brand people buy into, you need to sell it.

Whether or not you dream of becoming a social media influencer, and regardless of whether you’re a scroller or a poster, your personal brand as a health care provider already exists. How that personal brand continues to take shape, though, depends on the parts of yourself that you present – and social media is a great tool that gives you the power and the reach to decide.

Step Two: Know your creative responsibility

Your voice is your own before anyone else’s, but it’s still important to remember what you share online contributes to your organization’s public image, too. The good news is that if you’re conscientious about your content and give thought to its potential impact, you have the ability to generate more excitement and positivity around your health system and staff.

@oviedodoc

#nohandschallenge #duet #doctorsoftiktok #doctorsoffice #dancingdoctor

♬ No Hands (feat. Roscoe Dash & Wale) – Waka Flocka Flame

If you have great ideas for content that would include multiple members of your department, share your vision with your immediate supervisor. For certain trends or topics, they may want to get approval from senior leaders because what’s shared could reflect an entire team’s way of thinking rather than just one individual within the organization.

Making your intentions known to superiors also gives you a chance to address any concern about content creation taking priority over your responsibilities at work. The last thing you want is to have an awkward conversation about why you were doing the Macarena in an empty patient room after rounds when it can be avoided by communicating your ideas from the start.

Step Three: Know your objective 

The first step to creating effective content is to answer why you’re posting in the first place. What is the personal brand you’re trying to create for yourself? What feelings, insights or conclusions do you want individuals to come to when they engage with your content?

For example, regularly sharing how tos, best practices and other helpful insights will help you identify yourself to viewers as a resource and, with enough repetition, a subject matter expert. Once you create that association, users will recognize you for your reliable and valuable content, and it’s what will keep them coming back.

@vibeoptometry

Top 5 things I would never do after being an optometrist 👀 #eyes #thingsiwontdo #thingsiwouldneverdo #top5

♬ original sound – vibeoptometry

Ask yourself: Do I want to be the expert resource people can trust for health advice? The provider who makes videos so funny that everyone’s convinced they’re a part-time writer for Saturday Night Live? The APP influencer viewers turn to for hot takes or up-to-date insights? A hype man that boosts the general public’s interest in health care?

Your options for establishing who you are and how you’ll be known online are limitless, but your personal brand will inevitably be a reflection of the voice you embrace and the content you consistently share.

Step Four: Create content that supports your objective

Making TikToks, Instagram Reels or YouTube videos doesn’t have to be a full-time job to be worthwhile. Realistically, most people, especially most physicians, don’t have the time to make it one. But it can be an extremely effective hobby or side hustle if your goal is to advance career-related objectives or simply showcase more of your personality beyond your scrubs and white coat.

Just keep in mind one viral video isn’t all it takes to make a lasting mark. As quickly as engagement floods your content when it’s hot, viewers will move on to what’s next when it’s not.

To keep up with rapidly changing conversations and establish a sense of familiarity to viewers, you need to be reliable about when and what you’re posting. This will make the difference between posts that are successful and content that’s in demand.

If you’re not sure where to begin, it might help to take inspiration from physician content that’s been successful at generating engagement online:

Show real-life snapshots.

Be the physician or APP who holds back the curtain and lets users feel like they get a glimpse behind the scenes. Offer quick stories or funny reenactments about the reality of being a provider.

@vickichanmd

#doctorlife #doctorsoftiktok

♬ i dont even like phonk songs – mais

If your usual approach is tones of vulnerability, stick to that. If humor or slight sarcasm comes through in your posts and that’s what sets you apart, keep it up. Give users something real and let them experience the more human side of their health care heroes.

Guide viewers to good health.

Tune in to your areas of expertise and establish yourself as an irreplaceable resource to a specific community online, seeking advice on a particular topic.

@doctarz

3 foods to decrease cholesterol naturally. Make sure your oatmeal is glyphosate free! #cholesterol #highcholesterol #heartdisease #naturalremedy

♬ Magical (Instrumental) – BLVKSHP

Whether it’s live streaming a Q&A session, sharing ingredients you’d never consume as an internal medicine specialist, sharing did-you-know-style wellness advice, or some other piece of wisdom, there’s always an audience somewhere searching for what you have to say. Share content that establishes and elevates you as a go-to resource.

Simply entertain.

Letting loose and having fun online when in uniform doesn’t send the message you’re unprofessional or neglecting your job or patients. It simply reminds viewers that even though providers have important roles, they can also have fun. And let’s be real, the demanding nature of being a physician or APP makes having fun at work that much more important.

@ntx_surgicalspecialists

One of the best surgical teams out there!! Inspired by: @realdrnyc #fyp #doctorsoftiktok #surgeon

♬ vibe for this year – joseph fagundes

If it’s your style, put yourself out there and try the viral dance moves, participate in trends with your colleagues on slow days at work, recreate scenes from a favorite movie or use a trending sound to summarize something funny that happened on the job.

Stitch your way to success.

If brainstorming organic and original content feels like a challenge, stitching videos is a great starting point. Adding onto others’ videos with commentary or reactions can successfully generate views and engagement without requiring you to get too creative or, in some cases, even say a word.

@doctorsood

Discuss with your Doctor if you have knee pain. Link to study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3964021/ #kneepain #kneearthritis #kneepainremedy

♬ original sound – random.shii089

Regardless of whether you have a lot to say or you’re good at finding opportunities to react to videos with your own humor or insights, adding your hot take or unique spin to others’ original posts can change its entire trajectory, and potentially put it in front of those who might otherwise never see it.

Step Five: Keep it tailored to your platform

As you post, keep in mind that different social media platforms might have different keys to success. Do your research if you’re creating a TikTok vs. Instagram Reel vs. YouTube video. Different outlets require different approaches to reach audiences where they are.

Remember an individual scrolling TikTok might be looking for something different when browsing YouTube. Ensure your content isn’t one size fits all and is tailored to the audience of the platform you choose. If you’re flooded with positive feedback on one video and getting crickets on another, figure out what’s different and pivot your content to embrace what’s working.

Step Six: Continue refining your voice  

Maybe after reading this, you’ve determined being the physician voice online isn’t an avenue of your career path you’re interested in evolving – and that’s OK. But if you have even just a slight interest in utilizing social media for your personal and professional benefit, you can make it happen.

Every TikTok, Instagram Reel or YouTube video won’t be the one that gets a million hits, so don’t be hard on yourself or throw in the towel if your first – or even 50th – post flops. Instead, take note and try another approach. Remember, building your brand means being reliable and showing up for users who start showing up for you. The rest will follow.

Read PracticeLink articles by Alexandra Cappetta

Alexandra Cappetta

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