Some [here and here] are saying that physicians must have a presence on social media. I was thinking about this and decided to see what is going on with Twitter. Here are some numbers to ponder.
Twitter has 106 million users. Over 60% or 63 million are outside the US. Some 47% or 50M Twitter users are under the age of 35.
The population of the US is now about 312 million.
Let’s say you live in a city of 100,000 people and the same percentage of Twitter users in the country used Twitter in your area. [106M x 40% = 43M/312M = 14% or 14,000 people.] Now deduct the % under the age of 35 as they are unlikely to need a doctor. That gives you 14,000 x 53% [the % over age 35] which = 7420. You would have to assume that most of those 7420 people would not be following you on Twitter. Why? According to a report published in 2010, 60% of Twitter users follow fewer than 10 people. Assuming you are not being followed by that group, you now have 6420 x 40% or 2968. Since 74% of Twitter users have fewer than 10 followers, what is the likelihood that even a few of them would be following you? I suppose you could give your Twitter handle to all your patients. Do you really want to do that? What if a patient tweets something significant about a change in his symptoms and you don’t respond promptly or misinterpret what he said and give the wrong advice?
To look at it another way, over 92,000 people in your city will not even be potential viewers of your tweets.
If you are looking for a way to waste some time, get a few laughs, commiserate with like-minded physicians and occasionally learn something, Twitter might work for you. If you think of it as a way to market yourself or communicate with patients, I suspect you will be disappointed.