Dietitians Should Have a Professional Presence in Social
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
· 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.