Protect Your Nursing Brand on Social Media

By Keith Carlson via Multibriefs

Nurses use social media just like any other members of the workforce. As a nurse, how you use social media can have an impact on personal branding, so it's important to maintain awareness of your virtual presence and your position within the online world of professional nursing.

Employers use Google, too

When you apply for a nursing position, you can rest assured that most nurse hiring managers or human resources professionals will use Google to assess your online presence. Hopefully, all they will see is your robust LinkedIn profile, some Facebook photos of you and your dog, and your innocuous Twitter stream.

However, both younger and older nurses have realized that pictures of themselves doing tequila shots in Cancun or cavorting in a skimpy bathing suit may negatively impact their online brand as nursing professionals.

Employers fully realize that employees have personal lives, but you must maintain awareness that what you post online can come back to bite you when you least expect it. Whether we like it or not, being circumspect is essential.

Nothing is ever truly deleted

Something we need to remember when using social media is that nothing is ever truly deleted once it's been online. Sure, you can delete a drunken photo from Facebook, but by the time you do so, it may have already been downloaded by someone you don't know or it simply lives on some anonymous server somewhere.

This isn't about digital paranoia — it's just the reality of the 21st century.

Since we understand that nothing can ever be fully deleted, we need to be conscious of what we choose to share and where we decide to post. Knowing that our digital life has some level of permanence can change our mindset and give us pause to reflect on how we approach this normal aspect of modern life.

Assess your platforms carefully

Whether you use Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat or other social platforms, consciousness around your personal brand as a nurse is paramount.

Some nurses choose to be completely anonymous on Twitter and Snapchat, and this affords a certain freedom in terms of posting strategy and persona. However, if you want to use your social media platforms to advance your career, anonymous profiles will not support those efforts.

When it comes to a personal Facebook page, your privacy settings are important. Certain posts and photos should only be shared with close friends and/or family, but some articles purport that there are no absolutes since Facebook's policies seem to change so frequently.

If you plan to "friend" colleagues on Facebook, be aware that professional relationships can change — a nursing colleague can subsequently become your supervisor, and that can make a Facebook connection begin to feel uncomfortable.

LinkedIn is safe — and important

LinkedIn is truly only used for professional purposes, so privacy concerns are relatively moot on that platform. We are on LinkedIn to see and be seen, so sharing from a professional perspective is a smart strategy for your career development.

In terms of personal branding, it is widely recommended that every professional have a complete, robust, well-written and informative profile that is visible to all LinkedIn users.

This increasingly popular platform that was purchased by Microsoft in June of 2016 is the one that many employers will use to vet your online professional presence, so leveraging LinkedIn to that end is a savvy move.

Be circumspect and strategic

Your personal brand is a continuum, a constantly evolving process. You can use social media in a robust and powerful way to move your career forward, and your online presence can also be your Achilles' heel if you are less than careful.

Be strategic, circumspect and thoughtful in your use of social media, and maintain respect for the ways in which it can harm and elevate your personal brand and career.

Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, has been a nurse since 1996. He is the blogger behind the award-winning blog, Digital Doorway and a widely read freelance nurse writer. Keith is also the co-host of RNFM Radio, a popular Internet radio station devoted to the nursing profession. Under the auspices of Nurse Keith Coaching, Keith's passion is helping nurses and healthcare professionals create ultimate satisfaction in both their personal and professional lives.

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