Outlook: Newsletter of the Society of Behavorial Medicine
Winter 2012 Return to Outlook Main page »

Why SBM and Its Members Need to Have a Social Media Presence

Sherry L. Pagoto, PhD, and Ellen Beckjord, PhD

A social media revolution is happening, are you on board? Many who are not often ask, "What is the point?" Here are 4 answers to that question. First, it increases our ability to make the public and other professionals aware of what we do. Each of us has a responsibility to increase the reach and impact of our work, and to extend our sphere of influence beyond researchers and practitioners in our field. Social media is an outlet that can facilitate having our work heard and acted upon by a wide range of stakeholders, including high-priority targets like policymakers, the media, and consumers. The impact of the field will remain limited if we don't do better. Second, although health behavior information is routinely disseminated via social media outlets, SBM members have traditionally not been the purveyors of this information because we are not participants in the conversation. As a result, misinformation spreads like wildfire and nonprofessionals/nonexperts are tapped for comment and consultation instead of us. Third, you will receive news and information about emerging research more quickly and efficiently via social media than traditional media outlets and email. This saves time and can put your finger closer to the pulse of what is going on in the science of health, behavior, and medicine. Finally, social media is the most efficient way to build your professional network. Other fields like technology and business have been doing this for years, but behavioral medicine is lagging behind. Social media gives you the opportunity to expand your professional network far beyond the immediate network of behavioral medicine colleagues, and can lead to exciting new collaborations, creativity, and professional opportunities. The number one reason people say they don't engage in social media is that they don't have time. The thought that social media requires a large time commitment is a huge misconception. You can have an active presence in just a few minutes a day. Consider this: there is a daily global conversation happening about health. Is it worth it to you to have your voice heard?

At an organizational level, SBM is working to have a more robust presence in social media. SBM has an active Twitter feed and Facebook account. This year, each Special Interest Group (SIG) will write a blog on topic of their choice, and the blog will be shared via SBM's Facebook page and advertised in our Twitter feed. Also look for an increase in SBM's social media activity as the Annual Meeting approaches. We'll be Tweeting and Facebook posting about accepted posters and presentations, and we encourage all Annual Meeting attendees to Tweet during the conference using #SBM2012. SBM Board Members are also working on ideas for a TweetUp in New Orleans, and we plan to solicit questions from the audience at major Annual Meeting presentations via Twitter.

SBM's social media success will depend, in large part, on the participation of SBM members. If you have a Twitter account, be sure to follow @BehavioralMed and re-Tweet SBM Tweets to raise awareness of our feed. And if you follow @BehavioralMed, we'll be sure to follow you, and even acknowledge you on a FollowFriday (#FF)! Follow SBM on Facebook and use the site to engage in discussions with colleagues and friends. Now is a great time to make social media connections with other SBM Members and make plans to meet in person in New Orleans! And if you'd like SBM to use our social media presence to highlight a recent publication or accomplishment, please email the SBM Web Editing team (Alicia Sukup: ASukup@sbm.org; Ellen Beckjord: beckjorde@upmc.edu) so that we can promote the good work of SBM members through our social media presence.