by Jonhan Ho, MD, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center


Social media is a powerful way to share knowledge and grow your reputation. Incorporating digital slides can differentiate your content and help you stand out from the crowd.  Here are some tips to maximize your impact.


  1. Know your mission.  Ask yourself why you are posting pathology content?  Is it for the greater good?  To spread knowledge?  Have a creative outlet?  Brand yourself?  Network?  All of the above?  Knowing your mission will keep you grounded and give all of your posts a direction.  
  2. Know your audience.  Who are you making content for? Is it medical students?  Residents?  Fellows?  Experienced pathologists?  The lay public?  Pretend you are your target audience.  What background knowledge do they have?  How can you give them the context they need so your teaching points will be appreciated? Keep your vernacular appropriate to the level of training your target audience has.   
  3. Tell a story with your post.  Decide what the ending of the story is first.  For example, if you want the ending to be a diagnosis, plan out how you will walk your audience through your post to the diagnosis.  The most likely entry point into your post will likely be your preview image.  This is the thumbnail sized image that appears in your post in the feed.  A good preview image will make the user stop scrolling and spend time with your content.  Take the time to compose the image - if you like photography (as many pathologists do) you know that an image itself can tell a story.  Once users have nibbled at the preview image bait, reel them in with your title text.  Make it catchy and communicate what users will get if they click into your post.  Guide them to what you want them to do.  Ask them questions.  An example might be a preview image of a rare fungus, then the text might be something like “What infection is this?  See if you can find them in this digital slide: [link to your digital slide]”.  Then in your digital slide post you can give them some key points to remember about the diagnosis.  DIgital slides provide a different experience from still images - they are what we encounter in real practice.  They allow other pathologists to see findings in their natural context.  It helps pathologists recognize on low power what they should be paying attention to in order to arrive at the right diagnosis.
  4. Be consistent. One reason Starbucks is so successful is consistency.  It doesn’t matter if I am getting a Starbucks coffee in the airport, on the West coast, or in rural Pennsylvania, it always tastes the same.  I know I will never be let down by a Starbucks coffee.  Maybe other coffees taste better, but they might also be worse, and nobody likes to be disappointed.  Make your content consistently good.  Once you find a good recipe, stick with it, because your audience will keep coming back if it tastes good.  If you put fonts on your pictures or videos, use the same font.  Place text consistently in the same location.  Consider posting your content at regular times or on regular days, so that your audience will come to look forward to that time and incorporate it into their daily routines like a regular podcast that releases on Wednesday mornings.  There are services like Buffer that can schedule tweets for you to make your life easier.  The counterpoint to this is that unpredictability every once in a while will delight your audience unexpectedly - it always feels good to get a nice surprise!      
  5. Engage your audience. At the base of social media is personal connections.  For anyone to feel connected to you, they need to know what you look like.  Choose a profile picture that communicates what you want others to feel about you, whether it is a more traditional professional headshot or a more fun picture.  Ask your audience questions they can answer back with easily.  Give your audience choices.  Consider using polls for the more shy so they can answer your questions anonymously without the risk of getting judged online.  When they ask you questions, make sure to reply in a timely fashion to keep the conversation going. It feels good to be followed, retweeted, and have your content liked right?  So make sure you return the favor - if you make others feel good by liking and engaging their content, they will do that for you too.  
  6. Let your personality shine through.  You have a unique personality.  People like you for a reason.  Maybe you are especially funny, charming, or knowledgeable (or all three!).  Make sure that shines through in your posts!  Emojis can help express how you’re feeling at the time of your post or reply.  I know pathologists who often end their tweets with the same crying-laughing emojis, showing that he loves to laugh, and the emojis act almost like a signature.  Speaking of signatures, if you overlay your content with your signature, its style can also give your audience a flavor of your personality.  Be honest (but respectful!) with what you say and don’t be afraid to show people your feelings - it will help make that human-to-human connection.     


So how do I share digital slides? Good luck, and most importantly, have fun! If you do post your digital pathology content, consider tagging the @dpatweet on Twitter! 


Disclosure: Jonhan Ho is the Founder and CEO of KiKoXP. 


Disclaimer: In seeking to foster discourse on a wide array of ideas, the Digital Pathology Association believes that it is important to share a range of prominent industry viewpoints. This article does not necessarily express the viewpoints of the DPA, however we view this as a valuable point with which to facilitate discussion.