ASRS 2018 -- Fixing Lenses
Yoshihiro Yonekawa RETINA Roundup Co-Editor Instructional courses on Friday afternoon kicked off the 36th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Retina Specialists in Vancouver, BC. Course topics ranged from OCTA imaging, to diabetic surgery, to controversies in retina, to a pediatric vitreoretinal surgery course I was honored to be a part of, organized by Lejla Vajzovic. A brand new instruction course that stood out was Jay Sridhar's "Online and Social Media Content for Continuing Education and Marketing for the Retina Specialist." Faculty included David Almeida, Sunir Garg, Ajay Kuriyan, and Charlie Wykoff. Of note, Dr. Sridhar is the creator and host for the popular retina podcast, Straight from the Cutter's Mouth. The panelists presented the dos and don't of retina specialists engaging in social media. If done well, these new modalities of engaging patients and colleagues beyond the confines of the clinics and ORs may have tremendous positive impact on patient education, practice building, brand development, and research collaborations. I had the chance to catch up with Dr. Sridhar and Dr. Almeida right after the course to ask several questions for RETINA Roundup. Fantastic and timely course Jay. Can you describe the course in a nutshell for our readers? Sridhar: The course was about online content and social media for retina specialists. The take home point is that we each have an online presence, an online brand, and name. You want to learn what that is, and control it to what you want your brand to be for your patients and colleagues. David, how do I start doing this if I haven't engaged in social media much yet? Almeida: I think Jay's course nicely highlighted all the key points. First, you have to be aware that you have a brand - this is crucial. And the second is Twitter. These are your two best places to start. So if we were to choose one social media outlet, it should be Twitter? Almeida: Twitter for sure. Think of Twitter as a micro-blog. It's easily digestible and anyone can view this, even patients who do not have Twitter accounts. Those without accounts cannot post replies, but they can read and consume your content, which is very powerful. Sridhar: You can use Twitter on your mobile device when you're in between things, it's easy to manage, and it's publicly available, but you can control and customize the content. What do I post besides what I had for lunch? Sridhar: You can definitely get in danger if you post too much and too often. You want to post enough that when someone checks, you are relevant, or if they follow you, you pop up on their feeds. You don't want to post every single thing you did. I like to use Twitter to post about my podcast. So I post links to my new episodes, or for courses like this one, and even things not directly related to myself. For example, I post links to videos and posts that my colleagues have created for other platforms, such as the ONE Network, or RETINA Roundup. It's more about creating interesting content for the readers, and it doesn't necessarily have to be about you. So what's the benefit of having a "brand"? Almeida: The importance of having a brand is that it's one of the first points of connection between you and a potential patient, and it establishes a positive way to start that relationship. Sridhar: Sunir and Ajay also talked about educational content. There are so many avenues for education in social media. We talked about how trainee education is shifting towards videos, blogs, and podcasts, which are quicker digestible content. So if you want to stay relevant, or stay up to date on how you want to consume information, using Twitter to follow people is great, as well as video portals in Eyetube, ASRS, and the ONE Network, podcasts, and this blog. Producing content is very easy, even if you were someone who never wrote scientific papers. Engaging in social media is important because you're educating while you're consuming information for yourself. And for patients, it's great because they can easily look you up and see what your expertise and interests are. Should we hire people to do this for us? What if I don't feel comfortable yet navigating social media? Ameida: Don't worry at all. It's best to do it yourself. You'll quickly learn all the ins and outs very easily, and the content will be more genuine and authentic. It doesn't have to be complex at all. Keep it simple. Great, thanks for all the advice Jay and David. See you on Twitter.