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Nutrition Informatics Blog



Dietitians Should Have a Professional Presence in Social Media

Dietitians Should Have a Professional Presence in Social Media

Guest Blog By Nancy H. Allen, MS, MLS, RD, LD, CNSC

An interview with Natasha Burgert, MD, (@DrNatasha) on MDigitalLIfe Interview gave me pause and generated these thoughts on why dietitians should embrace and use social media.

As we all know, our clients, patients, or students (I’ll call them all clients from now on) fall into one of two groups:

·   They have Googled whatever they are coming to talk to us about prior to the appointment. They have perused sites, gathered good and bad information, and want to resolve their questions.

·   They haven't looked up anything. They are certain we are going to give them pages of food lists to navigate to help them follow our recommendations.

As we all know, search engines like Google are either friend or foe. I just searched “low sodium diet” and 7,360,000 links were returned in 0.19 seconds—80 pages filled with links to help control dietary sodium. As a nutrition professional, this is daunting. How does a nutrition client deal with this return?

Dr Burgert, a pediatrician, talks about using a blog to steer her patients’ caregivers to information to help them understand health topics. You also can do this by finding sites you value and using them as a basis for a blog post. In the sodium example, you might point to this NIH site and blog about why you think this is a good starting place for information on reducing dietary sodium. Your clients probably will appreciate seeing a site you recommend. It will help them evaluate other sites they come across.

According to Dr Burgert, her job is to “create, curate, and share content,” not treat patients. You should think of your posts as a channel of credible diet-related information, which will aid your clients in navigating all the nutrition information on the Web.

Other benefits include:

·   It gets basic knowledge out of the way. You don't have to talk about foods high in sodium. Instead, you can talk about the challenges of avoiding those foods and feelings related to the absence of these foods.

·   It's a “trust builder.” Your client knows something about you before they walk in the door. It is humanizing.

·   Teach your clients how to use Web 2.0 tools such as RSS feed, QR codes, to get to your information. It will carry over to other interests as well.

Finally, Google your area of practice. Know what your clients are finding on line. Follow the Facebook pages of companies that make foods your clients enjoy or have a difficult time avoiding. Follow products and people on Twitter who can provide a link to a product or idea that might help your clients.

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