An Introduction and Guide to Becoming a Social Media Savvy Nephrologists

Natasha N. Dave; Matthew A. Sparks; Samira S. Farouk


Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2022;37(1):14-20. 

In This Article

Introduction to Social Media

Social media is the term used to describe openly and freely accessible, user-generated content and communication that is posted on online platforms. It allows individuals, often separated by time, place and ideology, to express themselves in an informal setting by creating, sharing and engaging with each other to discuss common interests. These interactions can occur in various online platforms and take form in numerous ways including text, photo, video, audio, hyperlinks and graphics (Table 1). Each online platform is optimized to share content in a way that achieves its goal. For example, Instagram is a photo-sharing application where individuals can share photos and short videos.[10] Facebook is another highly trafficked social networking site with 2.5 billion followers, where individuals create a profile and then 'friend' other users to establish a personal online network.[11] On Facebook, businesses and organizations can create profiles known as 'pages' to interact with and attract an audience. Pages can be a professional physician profile, a business profile or other type of profile. Instagram and Facebook do not easily lend themselves to global interaction, as content sharing may be limited by one's followers. However, closed Facebook groups have been used successfully by a variety of medical groups.[11,12] Though short videos can be shared on either Instagram or Facebook, Vimeo and YouTube are social media platforms that facilitate free video-sharing.[13,14] Last but not least is Twitter, the popular online microblogging platform and arguably the birthplace of the global nephrology community.[15,16] Twitter users can share brief messages containing text or media (limited to 280 characters) called tweets, which not only broadcast to individuals that 'follow' one's Twitter profile, but also can be viewed by anyone with access to the Internet. Similarly, anyone with a Twitter account can amplify tweets by 'retweeting' them or respond to tweets and initiate a public dialogue. Thus, Twitter allows for rapid content dissemination and digestion as well as dialogue-like interchanges. Over the last decade, nephrologists from around the world have flocked to Twitter and created an active community.[16,17]