Have a strategy
Understand what you want to achieve from using social media - whether it's fulfilling your CPD, keeping up to date with the latest news, adding your voice to support the profession, or reaching out to other sectors, keep focused on your goals to ensure you get the most out of it.
Be aware of your boundaries
Your activity on social media will be very public to everyone, including your lecturers, employers, business associates and even your patients. Make sure you are fully aware of any policies that govern how and when you can use social media specific to your college or terms of employment and ensure you follow them. More on ethical challenges of using social media.
Look before you leap
Follow, watch, read and learn what works before jumping in and taking part in debates - it will help build your confidence and is an excellent way to learn good practice. Be polite, be considerate and be professional. There is no such thing as total anonymity with social media. Even if you don't use your name for your social media account these channels are very public and you will be identifiable. Your professional reputation will be influenced by the things you say so don't post anything you may later regret.
Keep it legal
Ensure you have a good understanding of the legislation covering libel, copyright and data protection. There are publishing laws governing what you can safely publish and you do not want to fall foul of them. It is dangerous to publish anything unfairly critical of any individual or organisation, or publish information about an individual or organisation not in the public domain without their consent. Always respect the privacy of others.
If in doubt...
If you have any reservations about making a social media comment or post, don't do it. If you see a post you feels needs a response but you are not sure how to reply, seek advice from another professional whose opinion you trust. Trust your instincts and 'if in doubt' about something 'leave it out'. Avoid getting involved in negative exchanges. Always remember you are a clinician and a professional.
Learn how to influence
Social media is the perfect platform to ensure the opinions of pharmacists from all sectors of the profession are heard. When used effectively it can also be a vehicle for extending networks and influencing national debate at the highest levels. Try to contribute positively to debates about the profession and the important work that pharmacists do. Ensure your discursive posts are informative, factually accurate and fair - you never know who may be reading them.
Be careful when engaging with people over the use of medicines and drugs. Even if you are conversing with fellow professionals be aware that patients could read your posts. Don't provide specific medicines advice to patients via social media. More guidance on engaging with the public
Hone your skills
Devote some time and effort into developing your social media skills. The RPS provides easy to follow guides that will help you learn how to use social media tools effectively to reach your target networks and achieve your goals.
Time is an investment
Ensure you spend your social media time wisely by following useful people and engaging in meaningful debate. Always stick to your strategy for engaging in social media to ensure your time spent is worthwhile.
And lastly, have some fun
Be relaxed in your interaction with your networks. Explore different tools to make the most of opportunities to develop your knowledge and practice - and remember to share useful information and stimulating comment you find with the rest of us.