We live in a world with information at our fingertips. When we want information, we want it now.

When looking for health information we often turn to the internet before seeking out professional advice. So we need to be where the public is looking. If we are not there, they will find the self-styled health gurus instead of qualified nutritional professionals.

In November last year, I was invited to attend a breakfast meeting by PR Company Porter Novelli, looking at effective ways of harnessing social media. As qualified nutritional professionals, we often get lost in the noise of big health influences with little or no health qualifications. The meeting had 2 social media stars who discussed how they managed to successfully build their brands on social media.

The first was Dr Megan Rossi (The Gut Health Doctor) who is a research dietitian at Kings College London and works in private practice. Over the past 12 months, she has managed to accrue 52,000 followers on Instagram with her amazing photos and her excellent way of engaging the public with the latest research about food and health. The second was a food blogger, Annabelle Randles, who runs the blog ‘The Flexitarian’. Annabelle does not have any formal nutritional qualifications but is passionate about sustainability and the environment. Annabelle has a good following on social media and works a lot with brands on her blog.

Megan and Annabelle were also joined by social media expert Lauren and moderated Ruby Quince in the panel discussion. Here are the top tips I took from the panel discussion for raising dietitian’s and registered nutritionist’s profiles on social media:

  1. Be proud of who we are, we should be shouting out that we are the experts.
  2. Don’t copy other accounts, but take best bits and put them together to make your own style.
  3. Choose a social media name that is like a brand – The Gut Health Doctor / The Flexitarian.
  4. Engage with like-minded people on social media. If the public see you engaging with other experts they will want to follow you too.
  5. Your posts need to be engaging and fun, people don’t want to read cold science. They want practical advice.
  6. Make your posts personable (include a few selfies – yes I know we all cringe doing them!) as followers like to see that you are engaging with them.
  7. Engaging with the public is more important than spending a long time creating good content.
  8. You don’t need to be on all social media channels. Find a platform you enjoy. Different platforms serve different purposes.
  9. Use planning, scheduling and time blocking to keep up with your social media. This way you won’t get distracted and it keeps your mind focused.

Megan discussed that times are changing and brands and other big social media influences are asking experts to write or speak on their channels. They don’t want to be caught out like the case of social media star Belle Gibson in Australia who was fined £240,000 after falsely claiming she had beaten brain cancer using natural remedies and nutrition. So now is the time to make ourselves known on social media and more accessible to big influencers and brands. This way they can choose to partner with qualified nutritional professionals rather than influences without nutritional qualifications!

Let’s go goop free, see you on social media!

This post was first published in the Dec / Jan issue of the NHD Magazine.  All views my own.