Thursday, August 23, 2012

5 Tips for Health Care Professionals Using Google+

My G+ Profile
I thought I'd follow up my previous post, "5 Tips for Health Care Professionals Using Facebook," with one for Google+ users. Don't want to seem biased, though I absolutely am.

#1  First, get on Google+

Yep, that's the first tip. If you're not on G+ you're doing yourself a huge disservice, for a number of reasons.

Which brings us to the remaining four tips.

#2  Get in on the conversations

Google+ conversations, discussions, and posts are so much more intelligent and useful than much of the posts on Facebook. Really.

Here are just a few of the recent Google+ posts from a few of my circles. They're typical of the kinds of posts going on here.

#3  Tailor your posts to your specific targets

It's extremely easy to post only to those people you want to post to.  Google+ uses Circles to categorize your contacts. They're really easy to use and enormously helpful in communicating exactly what you want to exactly the people you want. 

Personal posts to friends, professional posts to colleagues, any way you want to slice and dice it.

With Facebook, everything goes to everyone. (Unless you use their ridiculously clunky List functionality. Which, by the way, they stole from Google+. Ugh.)

Circle, though, are pure genius.

#4 Take advantage of Hangouts

Google has been busy the last couple of years buying small application developers and folding their functionality into the Google+ experience, and Hangouts is one of their gems.

With a quick download and extremely easy setup, you can use the Skype-lke Hangouts to visually communicate with family, friends, and colleagues, up to ten at a time. You can hold virtual conferences from a desktop, laptop, or tablet computer.

Very, very powerful.

#5  Promote yourself or your work

Google+ is perfect for sharing information about the work you've been doing or are interested in. You'll find the Google+ community inviting and encouraging. And growing.

That's one of the criticisms I hear all the time, that Google+ is a ghost town. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There are some fantastic health care-related professionals and other resources using Google+ frequently. So if getting information about your project "out there" is important, you need to post not just on Facebook but on Google+ too.

I think you'll find, as I do, that Google+ is an incredibly powerful application and professionally engaging community. For the kinds of information and commentary health care professionals tend to look post and for most, Google+ beats Facebook hands down.

And no, I'm not being paid by Google to say all this stuff. Google+ really is all that and a banana sandwich.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

5 Tips for Health Care Professionals Using Facebook

More and more health care professionals, students, and faculty are using Facebook to gather and share information.

I encourage my authors to get on Facebook too (and also Google+, but I'll address only Facebook here, because Google+ is such a different experience), to help get the word out about their book and to interact with the markets they serve.

The more health care professionals using Facebook, the better. Their posts can increase our knowledge of  health care trends and research and encourage a sense of shared community.

However, just as Facebook can help health care professionals, so can it hurt them.

Here are five tips for using Facebook safely and effectively.

#1  Post links and information your Facebook friends will most likely appreciate.

Posting a link to results from a new study or commenting on a news article you've found informative make for great posts for other health care professionals. To help all your friends decide which posts are right for them, try to include a kind of pointer in your post.

For instance, if a post deals with, say, pediatric emergencies, you might preface the post with something like, "For my friends interested in pediatrics..."

Pointing out the "market" for the post helps your friends concentrate on the most appropriate posts for them.

#2  Post as a professional.

You're a professional or working to become one, so post that way. Even if you post principally for your friends and co-workers, be professional.

You just never know who will read a post ... or when.

Be kind, courteous, articulate. No profanity, no nastiness, no personal criticisms.

Do right by your profession, and Facebook will treat you well. Do wrong, and it will at some point bite you in the buttocks.

#3  Post images wisely.

Be aware that any photo, illustration, graph, or any other type of image you've created and subsequently post to Facebook immediately becomes the property of Facebook. It's not yours anymore.

If that photo you post belonged originally to someone else — say, your hospital or doctor's office — and you didn't have permission to post it, you would be guilty of copyright infringement.

Along those same lines, never "tag" someone in an image without their permission, even if it's a close friend or a co-worker you know well. That person may very well resent having their face identified to people they don't know.

Facebooking should never interfere with friendships.

#4  Use e-mail, not Facebook, for private matters.

I can't tell you the number of times I've seen highly personal information posted on someone's Facebook wall rather than as a message. (The following quotations are fake but similar to many I've seen.)
  • "My mother is having surgery to remove her uterus tomorrow at Main City Center Hospital. I hope everything goes well."
  • "Jane Doe, I'm heading over to the Bel-Air Lounge for a few drinks. Want to join me?"
  • "I'm looking for a babysitter for this Saturday night to go to a party. Know anyone who can do it?"
Seriously? First, does everyone on your Friends list need to know about your mother? Has she said it's okay to tell the world?

Remember, every single thing you post to your wall or on your friend's wall belongs to the world.

And so on, and so on, and so on.
You might think that post is going only to your friends, but you would be wrong. That's how posts on Facebook, videos on YouTube, and tons of other pieces of content posted to a social media site "go viral."

You post to your wall, and a friends reads it. And then one of their friends reads it. And so on. And so on. And so on.

Stick to e-mail, or at the  least a Facebook message.

#5  Handle taboo topics carefully.

It's funny, but for some reason Facebook seems to bring out the worst in people. People often feel quite free to bring up topics they would never bring up at a party, such as politics, religion, gay marriage, or similar hot-button issues.

But on Facebook, they're fair game. If you're a health professional, and certainly if you're a student in a health professions program, please choose your issues and comments wisely.

I say that not because of the standard reason, that a current or future employer might see the post and fire you or not hire you, though that's a good reason too. I say it also so you can avoid alienating the very people you're trying to communicate with.

Case in point. The recent happenings with the Chick-fil-A chain prompted a huge number of posts from people on all sides of the issue.

People wanted to speak out, let their friends know their opinion, promote their "cause," and otherwise put forward their thoughts and feelings on the topic. But how many of their Facebook friends disagreed? How many felt hurt or anger at those posts?

Most likely far more than the Facebooker knows.

Now, posting opinions is part of what social media is all about. But if you're a health care professional, you have an additional obligation to put forward rationed and reasoned opinions.

Rightly or wrongly, impassioned or inflammatory posts can be seen by superiors, colleagues, and patients as being indicative of how you handle yourself as a professional.

Don't let Facebook dismantle what you've worked so hard to build — your reputation as a professional.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Niche Publishing in Health Care Education

Lenny Kravitz
Lenny Kravitz might not need to fit into any particular niche, but health care textbooks certainly do.

Publishers identify each book's particular niche, or market segment, during the earliest stages of development, typically during concept development. We need to figure out who will buy the book before we can actually write the book.

We work to identify markets that offer the greatest opportunity for sales. We love when a book can appeal to a large market. Wheeee!

Some books, though, are made to appeal to a small market. Those might be a tougher sell to a publisher.

Consider two examples:

  1. Textbook A is designed for physician assistants (PAs) in the U.S., a market of roughly 84,000. Capturing even 10 percent of that market could prove profitable for a publisher.
  2. Textbook B is designed for PAs working in pediatric ophthalmology offices, of which there might be, I don't know, a few hundred? That would be a considerably tougher sell for most publishers.

That doesn't mean that Textbook B would never be published, but it does mean that the author will have to be more diligent in finding just the right publisher.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Authors Are Humans Too

Authors aren't robots, they're human. Oh, well.
We textbook publisher-types tend to be a patient lot. We work with authors who, as it turns out, are human.

Humans get sick. They get pregnant. They have babies.

They care for aging or ill parents.

They lose their jobs or have to take on more and more responsibilities in less and less time.

They're busy, and busy people don't always do as much as they want to do, don't complete everything they want to complete.

Go figure.

So we wait. We nudge. We cajole, tease, and yes, sometimes threaten. (Though, truth be told, that almost never works.)

We do our best to protect the publishing company's interests, but in the end, we're dealing with humans.

A colleague at a project update meeting once jokingly said, when discussing some of the travails yet another author was experiencing, that he (let's make the person male this time around, shall we?) had had it with authors. From now on, he would have a new rule: "No heart attacks. No pregnancies. No babies. Welcome to F.A. Davis!"

We all roared because we knew exactly what he was talking about.

Life happens. And when it happens to authors, we publisher-types wait it out and hope for the best.

Because we're human too.

Dang it.