I think almost everyone knows what social media is these days! And if you don’t, then you’re unlikely to be reading this post!.. However, you may just be using social media for personal stuff and not for speech therapy. Many speech therapists I meet don’t realise how useful it can be for liaising with colleagues, finding information and research and connecting with other therapists around the world. So today, we thought we would talk about why we think speech therapists should use social media and give you some ideas of where to start.
Elizabeth and I did a webinar for Pearson on this topic last year which is far more detailed than this post. If you want to listen to it, you can find it here and you can download the PowerPoint slides on the same link or here: Social Media.
So, why should speech therapists use social media?
- It is a great way to keep up-to-date with resources, research and ideas quickly and easily. Research papers can be hard to come by and I often used to find I didn’t know when new resources or training courses came out that I might find useful. Now, I don’t have to search as often for that information – it comes straight to me in my Twitter and Facebook feeds.
- There is a huge online community of other speech therapists. Even if you work for a big department, most speech therapists work alone at least some of the time. There is always someone else out there on social media to give you a new idea. I’ve also found it really interesting to find out more about how speech therapy works in other countries, get fresh perspectives on things and find great resources and websites I didn’t know about, all without having to spend a lot of time looking for the information.
- Social media is a powerful tool. Still not enough people know what speech and language therapists do and how we can help. There are unfortunately continuing cuts to services and we need to spread the word and raise awareness of what we do. There is no better method than social media to get a message out to lots of people quickly and for free!
There are speech therapists on many different social media platforms, but we (Elizabeth and I) don’t use them all yet. We mostly use Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, so those are the three that I will talk about in this post. I’m not going to go into detail about how to sign up for accounts and the differences between these different networks here – there is some information about that on the slides. But here is a little information about each of them and why I find them useful.
I love Pinterest for speech therapy “stuff”. The one problem with things you see on social media is that they disappear quickly as your feed moves on and then you can’t remember exactly what it was or where you saw it! Pinterest solves this problem. Simply pin the article or resource to a board and it will be there whenever you want to refer back to it. It’s really easy to organise your Pins by topic too. Check out some of these boards/pinners to give you a few ideas of the wealth of speech therapy information there is on Pinterest.
Twitter is a very quick and easy social network. You can spend just a few minutes looking at it and find lots of useful things (that is not to say that it isn’t possible to get sucked in and lose hours however!) When I first joined, I rarely tweeted anything – I just followed people (researchers, resource makers, professional organisations and individuals) and read their tweets, re-tweeting every now and then. Don’t feel under pressure to put out information yourself if you don’t want to. Tweets are also very quick and easy to write however.
There are so many great Twitter accounts that you should follow – I can’t possibly add them all here. Here are just a few (please don’t be offended if I haven’t included yours – it is impossible to put all the useful accounts in a post like this!) I have also kept them to UK ones – obviously there are loads of extremely useful accounts from around the world too!
I resisted using my personal Facebook account to follow speech therapy pages for a long time, as I wanted it to be the one social network that I used just for communicating with friends and family. I still do primarily use it for that, but I am also following some pages and groups which are really useful. You can always set them so that you only see their feeds when you click on them rather than having it come through into your News Feed, but in the end, I found it more useful to have information pop up in my News Feed where I will definitely see it. Facebook is fantastic for discussion and I like the way links show up as you can clearly see what they are before you click.
You can find the Speech Blog UK Facebook page here. We add lots of links to other useful things we’ve found as well as our own content so there is lots there that isn’t on the site itself. Here are some other pages I follow (again, this is just a fraction of them – there are many, many useful pages.
Facebook also has groups. There are a wide range. Some have specific rules about who can join. For example, to join the resource selling group, you have to be a speech therapist (I am one of the admins and we do check!) Others are a lovely mix of parents and SLTs – it all depends on the purpose of the group. I haven’t put links here, only titles, as it isn’t so easy to find a link to them without being logged into Facebook. These are correct titles though – they should pop up easily.
UK Speech Therapy Book/Resource Selling
Parents of Children with Speech and Language Delay
Speech & Language Therapy Jobs Worldwide
Speech Therapy Ideas
This is already a long post. But before I finish, just a word of caution about using social media in a professional capacity. Always think about what you are writing and the fact that anyone can read it. Be gracious, kind and professional in the way you deal with people – you don’t know who they are or what their situation is.
Also, be mindful of your employer – many speech therapists put a disclaimer at the top of their Twitter feed to say that the views are theirs and don’t necessarily represent the views of their employer. This may be sensible.
Most importantly of all, always remember professional rules about confidentiality and never, ever say anything that could identify a particular individual. The rules are just the same on social media as they are anywhere else.
However, with a bit of thought, social media can be hugely helpful. Why do you use it, or what is stopping you?