Through our online healthcare professional (HCP) market research studies at Creation Healthcare, we see nurses using social media for a variety of reasons including; to develop professionally, to grow as a recognised industry expert, to stay on top of their field, to share their knowledge & opinions, to ask for help & information, to debate topical information and to create awareness about a current health campaign they are running.
Being in such an innovative industry social media can be a useful way to keep up to date with all the latest changes. The 2012 Taking the Pulse® Nurses Study by Manhattan Research found that with registered nurses spending 16 hours a week online for professional purposes they are statistically more active online than physicians.
Associations and organisations like Nurses Without Borders and the Nursing & Midwifery Council are beginning to offer advice to nurses on the best practice for using social media professionally. Nurses Without Borders provide some great examples on the ways in which nurses are using social media, whilst the Nursing & Midwifery Council issued guidelines on how nurses should best be using social media.
In our research we found one of the biggest online communities for nurses in the UK was We Communities. They are real advocates of nurses using Twitter as a place to receive knowledge and support quickly from peers all over the world. They host regular twitter chats on topics important to the nursing community using the hashtag #wenurses, have their own blog and even provide their own Twitterversity where participants are educated in how to get the most benefit from Twitter.
WeNurses features weekly chats about professional matters.
Other great sites that make up the online nursing community include www.allnurses.com which has more than 820,000 monthly visitors to the site and is present on Google+, Facebook (with 348,000 likes), LinkedIn, Twitter (17.3k followers) and Pinterest. Nurses Together has more than 90,000 visitors to the site a month and shares some really great articles on balancing a healthy lifestyle as a nurse in addition to offering advice with their careers
Nurses who are digital opinion leaders
Susan Niemeier, is a thought leader in nursing innovation, technology & performance improvement. She positions herself as an ambassador for frontline nurses and tweets helpful resources and innovative nursing breakthroughs that dominate the news. She has 1,154 followers with a number of these being other nurses looking to engage and learn from her including @thatnurseblog who is looking for a global perspective to better her practice and is sharing her learnings on her blog and Facebook page.
Brittney Wilson, BSN, RN is another example of a digital opinion leader with over 7,000 Facebook fans, 16,000 Twitter followers and 1200 contacts on Google+. Her connected peers engage with her thoughts and opinions, listen to her feedback from conferences and learn from her experiences. These are great examples of the connections, influence and engagement between nurses online.
Future nurse digital opinion leaders?
The trend of nurses utlizing social media as an education resource is only set to grow with younger, more digitally savvy student nurses adopting social media from the start of their careers. We see them using Pinterest to create a collection of study tips and class notes, participating in forums such as the NursingForum.co.uk and studentnurse.org.uk and joining the All Nursing Students Facebook community of nearly 50,000.