Reflecting on Your Online Presence

There have been a number of instances that have prompted me to reflect on how I use social media in the past couple of weeks. It is very easy to barrel along and suddenly create an online presence that yields a 5 page deep list when entering A Google search query for your own name. This can carry some pretty big implications. So as part of a look back at my first year of having a blog and my first 18 months on using Twitter as a professional network, I thought I’d share a couple of navel-gazings on the professional use of social media.

Here are a couple of cases to think about

You have applied for a new job. You have spent hours updating your Resume, addressing key selection criteria and proof reading your cover letter. You are quietly chuffed with how amazing this document is and what a great first impression it will generate with your prospective employer. This sharp and savvy organisation you have applied to work for “Googles” your name. What comes up? “Oh it’s ok, I have my privacy settings tight on Facebook.” What about your friends? Are their privacy settings as tight, or can I click on one of your friends from your otherwise fortress-like Facebook profile and yield a few tagged pictures of you doing things that only your real best mates will tag and publish on the internet. Will a click on a friend’s profile yield a conversation about something that may not align with the philosophy of your new employer of choice. Hmmm, why didn’t you get an interview?


The next example is drawn from the Royal College of Nursing Australia’s Social Media Guidelines for Nurses. This example serves as a warning regarding ‘identifiable patient information’.

A nurse who runs a nurse education blog around skin conditions posted a case study relating to a patient with an unusual condition. Whilst the patient was never identified by name, a work colleague of the patient was searching the internet to research more information about the condition and was able to identify the patient through the information and pictures posted on the site. This post was reported to the hospital leading to the disciplinary action of the nurse involved as consent or permission had never been provided by the patient.


It is obviously not enough to simply set privacy settings and not divulge names of a patient. As nurses we work with people at very vulnerable points in their life and this carries a greater responsibility than other professions. Also when someone ‘researches’ you on the old inter-web, it is useful to have some idea of what they may find.


Some great resources to learn more about Social Media in the Healthcare Professions:

Great compilation of organisational guidelines for Social Media Use in Medicine –

Excellent overview of popular social media platforms –

Nice introduction for the Twitter neophyte by the brilliant Tessa Davis –


To finish off, this is a possible reason many of us take some convincing about social media (stuck in a 1990’s view of the online world).


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