Discussions

Branded Twitter Handles

Posted by Gregory Leone @therealgl, Dec 3, 2019

Hi everyone, there has been discussion at my company about creating branded twitter handles for clinical leaders like Chief Medical Officer or Chief Resident. I have many concerns about doing this but wanted to see if you know of any benefits to creating these types of handles for employees outside of the Marketing/PR team?

I see you've just joined our community, Gregory. Welcome to the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Nice to have you here.

Can you clarify? Are you whether you should start a generic Twitter handle for Chief Medical Officer/Einstein Health? Or do you mean a Twitter account for your chief medical officer, using his or her name?

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@dahinmon

I see you've just joined our community, Gregory. Welcome to the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Nice to have you here.

Can you clarify? Are you whether you should start a generic Twitter handle for Chief Medical Officer/Einstein Health? Or do you mean a Twitter account for your chief medical officer, using his or her name?

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Hi Dan, thank you for your response. Yes, a branded generic twitter handle that includes Chief Medical Officer/Einstein. I am not a fan of creating these types of handles for people outside of marketing because we do not have control over the tweets. To me, having a branded handle gives the perception that tweets are sanctioned by the organization.

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Thanks for clarifying. I'm tagging doctors in the community who may want to weigh in on this. @matthewrehrl @drjrmarcelin @kcawcutt @FarrisTimimi @cabreraerdr @bryanvartabedian @sasanof @christiansinclair

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@dahinmon

Thanks for clarifying. I'm tagging doctors in the community who may want to weigh in on this. @matthewrehrl @drjrmarcelin @kcawcutt @FarrisTimimi @cabreraerdr @bryanvartabedian @sasanof @christiansinclair

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Thank you Dan! And thank you for the warm welcome! I am really excited to be here!

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Kia ora Gregory – i’m a physician in Auckland , NZ. I haven’t seen this done before but I think it has potential especially for introducing a non-user to Twitter in a pseudo-anonymous way? The CMO or Chief Resident could be guided initially and have tweets put out on her/his behalf if a newbie and gradually take it on. Trusting all staff is key – our behaviours online should be no less professional than those IRL. Several orgs do this for their CEOs. Cheers David

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@sasanof

Kia ora Gregory – i’m a physician in Auckland , NZ. I haven’t seen this done before but I think it has potential especially for introducing a non-user to Twitter in a pseudo-anonymous way? The CMO or Chief Resident could be guided initially and have tweets put out on her/his behalf if a newbie and gradually take it on. Trusting all staff is key – our behaviours online should be no less professional than those IRL. Several orgs do this for their CEOs. Cheers David

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Hi David, it's great to e-meet you. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective. Very helpful.

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Of course there are pros and cons. It happens with official accounts (like POTUS or CDC director, etc). I think it is OK, however the user of the account needs to understand that the handle is 100% not him/herself and represents a position of authority. It is tricky to ask people to usurp a twitter handle. I think is better for users to keep their own identity.

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I have always found branded accounts to be problematic, in that there is an intrinsic, and frankly perceived, lack of transparency, given the lack of absolute accountability inherent in a managed presence online. I agree with David's concerns, but would share some sense of disquiet on behalf of the recipient, and the perceived authenticity of the content.

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@cabreraerdr

Of course there are pros and cons. It happens with official accounts (like POTUS or CDC director, etc). I think it is OK, however the user of the account needs to understand that the handle is 100% not him/herself and represents a position of authority. It is tricky to ask people to usurp a twitter handle. I think is better for users to keep their own identity.

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Hi Daniel, thank you for your feedback. I really like the point you made about content for the account being more position focused and less person focused.

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@FarrisTimimi

I have always found branded accounts to be problematic, in that there is an intrinsic, and frankly perceived, lack of transparency, given the lack of absolute accountability inherent in a managed presence online. I agree with David's concerns, but would share some sense of disquiet on behalf of the recipient, and the perceived authenticity of the content.

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Hi Dan, I agree. Content coming out of branded accounts tend to be more polished and marketing driven. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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This is a great question! I agree with the others posting that the branded account really should be treated like any other institutional account. I am not sure what would be the benefit to having that account as opposed to an individual having their own account and disclosing that they are the CMR or CMO. I suppose if this is in lieu of having a departmental account, e.g. instead of having a @MayoIMResidency account, having a @MayoIMChiefs account would serve the same purpose. At our institution, the leaders like CEO, Chancellor etc all have their own personal accounts separate from the institutional account, which is generally more canned messages. I would encourage individual accounts as this highlights humanity and authenticity of leaders.

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I am going to disagree with some people here.

if you really want strong, dynamic content from your individual thought leaders you must allow them to develop their own brand in parallel, and overlapping, but unique from yours. Do not chain them to your org CMO twitter accounts.

Why?

Well, from the physician’s perspective, people who own their own account are going to be much more aggressive, active, and creative developing their own brand than they are developing your organization's brand, and because of that, they are going to produce a lot more high-quality content.

If you restrict them to a corporate CMO account, it won’t have the same emotional connection for them as creators (why should it?), and the content will probably suffer.

Examples? Consider @wendysueswanson who for a long time was a director at Seattle Childrens , and @JulieSilverMD at Harvard, who are thought leaders in several different categories. Their social media value to their respective organizations is much, much greater because they have developed great personal brands – brands which they work on without direct pay 7 days a week, in a passionate, personal manner, and, paraphrasing Jasmine "humane and authenitc".

Now, does this mean that you are going to lose their brand value when they move on?

You bet, but remember, really great organizations know that they higher excellent people who one day will probably move on ( hey, they are great folks), but— instead of worrying about this—, they embrace it.

So what would I suggest for a a great organization? I would actually suggest you help people develop their own personal brands when you can—both as a means to keeping them happy while they are with you, and to help create greater positive connections when they leave you.

It takes a high degree of trust in the people you hire, but if you do this, it could pay forward even all after they leave you simply from an alumni effect.

One final point: I think THE problem in healthcare right now is dehumanization associated with technology. Personal accounts which overlap an organization is low-hanging fruit to counteract this.

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Agreed with Dan, but I also think liability plays a huge role and disclaimers such as "views are my own or do not represent those of my employer, etc." need to be considered.

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@hackensackmeridianhealth

Agreed with Dan, but I also think liability plays a huge role and disclaimers such as "views are my own or do not represent those of my employer, etc." need to be considered.

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Curious about the disclaimers, and don't mean to hijack this thread with a different question: aside from a legal protection, does anyone think disclaimers are actually helpful? For example, if an employee tweets racist stuff but has a disclaimer, can an employer discipline that person for violating their social media (and likely other) policies? I have a disclaimer myself after attending MCSMN residency last year, and although my twitter account is "personal" I fully acknowledge that I am a representative of UNMC a faculty member and residency associate program director. But often wonder if people use the disclaimer as a shield that allows them to say whatever they want as long as they say "own views"?

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I think the disclaimers aren’t much help and I doubt really protect much of anyone – either org or individual, but they may be required by your employer’s social media policy which is part of your contract – however I think the could be valuable in certain scenarios – and that’s what I call the “Crusading Citizen-Physician.”

Example: Let’s say you are an ER Doc at The Mayo Clinic who decides she is going to come out aggressively for (or against) gun control/assault rifle ban, etc. I would contend that even though these are legitimate political points of view, both can be so polarizing it might actually put not just you, but your staff at risk. I believe that if you are going to go on a political crusade such as these then the professional thing to do would be to discuss this with your admin (at a high level) first. In that case a disclaimer may be essential. (The obvious other one is pro-choice/pro-life).

Of note, there are some “crusades” that I believe should be done aggressively by the organization but NOT by most individual doctors because it leaves these doctors wide open to career-threatening attacks. The obvious one is vaccinations, where individual physicians are targeted by coordinated groups of anti vaccination folks. If an individual doctor wants to get into the vaccine discussion using social media, they should really understand the implications first. Put another way, it’s one thing for The Mayo Clinic to put out a HPV vaccination tweet, it’s an entirely other thing for a shiny new resident to do it on her/his first tweet and wake up to 100 bullying comments the next day!

For me personally, my rule is “No politics, no religion” and I am very wary of commenting/retweeting on any social issues outside my very limited areas of expertise.

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