A social media primer for professionals: digital dos and don'ts

Health Promot Pract. 2014 Mar;15(2):168-72. doi: 10.1177/1524839913517235. Epub 2014 Jan 6.


Social media sites have become powerful and important tools for health education, promotion, and communication activities as they have dramatically grown in popularity. Social media sites also offer many features that can be used for professional development and advancement. When used wisely and prudently, social media sites and platforms offer great potential for professional development by building and cultivating professional networks, as well as sharing information to increase one's recognition and improve one's reputation. They also provide a medium for increasing one's knowledge and awareness of timely news and trends by following important organizations, opinion leaders, and influential professionals. When used unwisely and imprudently, there is the potential to delay, damage, or even destroy one's professional and personal life. In this commentary, we offer recommendations for using Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter for professional development and caution against online behaviors that may have negative professional consequences. In summary, we believe that the strengths and benefits of social media for professional advancement and development far outweigh the risks and encourage health promotion professionals to properly engage these powerful tools.

Keywords: Internet/electronic interventions; audience/consumer analysis; career development/professional preparation; health education; health promotion; social marketing/health communication; technology; workforce development.

MeSH terms

  • Education, Continuing
  • Health Personnel / education*
  • Health Personnel / organization & administration
  • Health Promotion
  • Social Media*
  • Staff Development*