It’s easy to jump in and vent your frustrations, but a measured approach to social media commentary will protect your reputation and the reputation of others as well.
One of the great aspects of social media is that it doesn’t take long for news to travel. Some would say that’s bad news too. Sometimes you read facts, other times it’s fake news or even conspiracy theories. Too many times people share misinformation without checking validity, which only takes a few seconds.
perhaps the best approach is to remain rational and seek the facts. Rather than blindly following the squeakiest wheel, talk to the people at the top
We’ve seen how social media can be harnessed by the unscrupulous and unethical. How it can bias voters, fuel fear and provoke action… Some said COVID-19 was let loose to quell the student riots in Hong Kong, which it certainly did…
At a local level, good or bad, social media helps us monitor the pulse of opinion and events affecting us as eye care professionals. It also provides valuable connections that can improve our practise and patient outcomes.
It’s interesting to monitor the many questions that arise on professional social media forums.
Some are rather silly – perhaps lazy – with people asking questions a quick Google search would have answered.
Others are more complex, with practitioners seeking to gain valuable knowledge from the more experienced members of the eye care community.
No one should be embarrassed about asking a valid question. Knowledgeable people are always happy to help and a variety of opinions adds to the debate.
For example, via a professional social media platform, you can ask an ophthalmologist the best way to plan for cataract surgery, or to help target the ideal lens choice or refractive end points for a given case. You can also connect with colleagues for help to determine the likely diagnosis, management and treatment for a given case that has you stumped.
Community forums can quickly communicate information about experiences with particular products and practitioners, or product availability. While this can be helpful, it can occasionally unfairly damage reputations.
By way of example, earlier this year, optometrists became aware of disruption to supplies of certain contact lenses and solutions, following an alleged cyber-attack on a courier company. The attack affected other optical suppliers too. Awareness enabled those affected to consider alternatives.
When another of the ‘Big Four’ announced severe production delays of their widely prescribed contact lenses, the news triggered dissatisfaction regarding the limited supply. This resulted in much speculation, with some saying the lens was a victim of its own success, while others suggested there was more to the story.
The discontinuation of a popular daily toric, by another market player, also led to an online furore. Various reasons were proffered for the discontinuation. Some believed the complexity of a manufactureto- order philosophy was the reason, with others suggesting the lens’ low cost was unsustainable. Ironically the recommended replacement lens, from an alternative manufacturer, was also in short supply!
When things break down in the supply chain – be it quality control, manufacturing backlogs or delivery issues – frustrations develop quickly. Some people don’t think twice before venting on their favourite social platform.
Powered by this information, practitioners find reason to switch suppliers. Within days they may be fitting different contact lenses or offering alternate solutions, eye drops, dry eye products, spectacle frames or lenses.
Avoid going overboard or making libellous statements simply because you had a bad day, or a patient moaned about a delay
For those suppliers inadvertently affected by a supply issue – or those maligned in online forums – this can be devastating for their business, their clients, employees and collateral suppliers, and of course the end users.
Practitioners have good memories. I’ve heard some state they haven’t dealt with a specific brand/supplier for two decades because of an issue they had all those years ago.
Of course this isn’t new – the same thing occurred in the pre-Internet era. It’s just that today, because news now travels at the speed of light, the whole process has been dramatically sped up. If affected parties don’t properly explain themselves, things can quickly get out of hand.
MEET YOU IN THE MIDDLE
With all the positives and negatives of social media in mind, perhaps the best approach is to remain rational and seek the facts. Rather than blindly following the squeakiest wheel, talk to the people at the top.
Don’t throw your toys out of the cot and make an emotional decision you may regret. Temper your response on social media. Avoid going overboard or making libellous statements simply because you had a bad day, or a patient moaned about a delay. You could get sued for defamation, or simply look ridiculous in the eyes of your peers.
Remain calm and logical and seek to resolve the problem as best you can. Oh, and when a supplier does a great job, or a product achieves an exceptional result – don’t forget to give them a plug!