9 Tips for Successful and Safe Use of Social Media

Pamela Ressler


Social Media Use GraphThe use of social networking sites has reached an all time high in the United States.

Recent research from the Pew Internet Project suggests that more than 7 out of 10  American adults who use the internet also use at least one social networking site.

There are many benefits to the increased connection and communication that social media and social networking provide, such as real time global discussions and collaboration; forming bonds with those holding similar interests and passions; and allowing those who may be isolated because of chronic illness to connect with others through technology.

Increasingly, social networking has also shifted away from the desktop to mobile devices allowing for 24/7 access to sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Organizations, witnessing the rapid expansion of social media and social networking, are becoming more concerned about how appropriately their employees are using these platforms.

As an early adopter of social media in my work in healthcare and a researcher in the field, I would like to offer some suggestions for improving your online social experience.

9 Tips for Successful and Safe Use of Social Media

1. Remember that all social media is public. Even with privacy settings, posts and entries often are accessible and visible to others.

2. Share respectfully, never post anything that you wouldn’t be OK with your boss (or your mother!) reading.

3. Connect using your own name. Authenticity is important.

4. Unless you are specifically authorized to do so, do not post in the name of your employer or act as a representative of your company.

5. Use social media as a conversation and not a megaphone, listen as much as you speak.

6. Be cautious about sharing personal health information, especially if you are concerned about disclosure of illnesses or diagnoses to others. Be especially conscientious of posting about family members’ illnesses without their permission.

7. Join discussion groups on sites such as LinkedIn or Tweetchats on Twitter. These are great ways to learn about a topic in greater depth and contribute to others’ learning.

8. As with email, don’t post in anger or hostility. Allow yourself some time to cool down before hitting send.

9. Engage with curiosity, civility and conscience.

Enjoy the conversations and connections!

Pamela Ressler, is a senior wellness consultant with Comprehensive EAP, as well as the founder of Stress Resources and a faculty member in the Pain Research, Education and Policy program at Tufts University School of Medicine. She is co-author of Communicating the Experience of Chronic Pain and Illness through Blogging (Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2012) and author of Social Media for Nurses (Nursing Knowledge International, 2013)