The Basics of Facebook

What is Facebook?

Facebook is the original Social Network, which is why there’s a movie about it by that exact name! It’s what started the whole social media craze, and while Twitter is a pretty big beast, Facebook is still number one for most people.

Essentially it started as a way for people to have a personal homepage, which is commonly called a profile. Facebook profiles started amongst university students and had a bit of a dating focus, but have since evolved to be used much more broadly.

For most people using the Internet regularly, their Facebook profile is their most comprehensive online presence.

There are many layers to using Facebook, but at its simplest, you ‘add’ friends and family so that you can see their profile, and they can see yours.

On your profile, you can:

  • Add personal info, like birthday, age, sex, sexual, religious or political preference, etc.
  • Add photos and videos
  • Post updates about whatever you like, ranging from big news to the inane (I’m pregnant, I just had eggs benedict for breakfast, I love/hate the Federal Government)
  • ‘Like’ things – both the comments and pictures of your friends, but also the broader online presence of companies or organisations (like

What it’s for?

For doctors, there are a couple of ways you can consider using Facebook, and it’s important to be clear about the distinction.

1. As a personal Facebook profile for interacting online with family and friends

  • Sharing pictures with family and friends, perhaps of your new grandchild (or carbon fibre road bike!)
  • Letting your wider circle of friends and family know of what’s going on in your life (quick updates from your overseas holiday – quicker than group emails!)
  • Sharing interesting articles or websites with friends that you may not want to broadcast in a public sphere like Twitter. Examples would include a video or article which might betray your political leanings, or a humorous but risqué joke or video.
  • Lots more!

2. As a business page to help with promotion of your practice or business. It can be a really cheap way to have some degree of online presence without having an entire website. Even if you have a website, it may be a way to engage a different part of your patient base.

  •   Doctors and their special interests
  •   Opening hours
  •   Fee schedule
  •   Useful health related articles
  •   Really, whatever you like! (We will discuss this idea more in another post)


What’s it NOT for?

1. Personal pages:-

  • Adding anyone you don’t know, or aren’t friends with.
  • Adding patients (or anyone you have a professional relationship with) as a friend.
  • This can get a little more complicated if you’re a doctor working in a very small town where you have no choice but to treat your friends, but this is the exception rather than the rule.
  • Adding any kind of personal information which you wouldn’t want to escape into the public sphere. Whilst you can manage your security settings quite a lot of Facebook, generally you shouldn’t put ANYTHING up that you’d be horrified for the world to see. High profile faux pas in the past have included people saying ‘I’m chucking a sickie’ and getting themselves fired, and other similar gaffes.

2. Business pages

  • Adding any kind of identifying data or private information. No matter how well you think you’ve managed your privacy and security settings, this is NOT the place!
  • Giving any kind of specific health advice to individuals. Whilst it is a great idea to post interesting things about the benefits of influenza immunisation and associated myths, you definitely shouldn’t be replying to Mrs. Jenkins when she asks whether she should have the flu vaccine or not.

How is Facebook different?

The question here could almost be, ‘How is everything else different to Facebook?’

Facebook is different because of its sheer size and breadth:-

  •   Number of users
  •   The amount of content and it’s organised structure
  •   The mix of different types of content
  •   Personal accounts of individuals (your personal Facebook page)
  •   Groups of friends or associates (a shared page for your social soccer team)
  •   Businesses looking to engage their client base (……….)
  •   Celebrities with pages similar to business pages, promoting their ‘brand’ (Justin Beiber)

It’s different than Twitter because posts can be larger, users have a traditional home page rather than a simple stream of posts, and because there are a number of different security settings and privacy functions.

It’s different to LinkedIn because LinkedIn is all about people interacting on a business to business level playing field. LinkedIn users are either businesses, or people representing their professional selves online, looking to interact in a way that pertains to work. Whilst Facebook has businesses as well as personal users, its main aim is either person to person interaction, or businesses looking to engage with their clientele.

Why should you use Facebook?

Use it according to either of the two paradigms above. Just don’t try and mix them, or you’ll end up with some kind of horrible Ghostbusters, crossing of the streams type problem!

  1. The best place to share photos, thoughts and other interesting bits and pieces online with friends and family OR
  2. The online platform where the largest proportion of your patients will have a presence, and a great place to reach out to patients and clientele.

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