How Social is Your Healthcare Professional?


Surgeons are brilliant but cantankerous.

Pediatricians are patient and easy-going.

The idea that different medical professions attract different personalities is actually not only stereotypical – or even common-sensical. It’s actually a validated phenomenon. Several studies and lit reviews have investigated the phenomenon – even matching specialties by Myers-Briggs temperament.

Interesting. So if you’re looking to reach physicians with your messages, can you use their differences to figure out how best to find them? Maybe – if you know your doctors well enough.

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just asking which ones are using social media.

According to a recent Manhattan Reseach survey, the typical American physician using a physician social network like Sermo is a younger-than-average female primary care doctor.

But nationality is also in play. According to a MediaMix survey from this summer, An Italian physician is likely to be on Facebook; a Brazilian doctor, Orkut; one from Mexico, Hi5; and one from Germany, probably none at all.

Never forget that “social media” means many things, of which social networking is only one type – and that “social networking” means many things, of which physician social networks are only one type.

Think about all aspects of your target physician. We’ve already considered what gender he or she is, what country she lives in, how old she is, what specialty she is.

To come up with physician outreach that will really matter, you have to consider all kinds of demographics and psychographics at play. Here are a few example questions to consider.

  • Would communication with their patients or peers be especially useful because he practices in a rural area?
  • Would she welcome an opportunity to publish her point of view because she is – or is looking to become – an opinion leader in her field?
  • Is he part of a “boom” of new physicians joining a specialty, working hard to set himself apart and prove himself?
  • What mobile-phone network is the most popular in her region?
  • What is the most important new piece of diagnostic or treatment technology introduced to his specialty?

Set yourself a timer, and spend five minutes writing down everything you can about “what kind of social” you are.

Figure out how social media helps you: the ways it makes your life easier, the facets that have become integral to your days.

Once you see your own “social” description, try it for your target physician. Create their “social” portrait – and then see how you can complete it.



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