Dietitians on Social Media: Making Connections for Better Health
It’s no secret that the media plays an important role in nutrition. Long before social media existed, magazines, commercials and a multitude of internet articles portrayed both factual and distorted nutrition information. Now, social media has become the largest platform of communication and information sharing, with 2.3 billion people around the world using social media in 2016, according to Statista. In fact, a remarkable 83 percent of all Americans report having some sort of social media account, according to the Pew Research Center. Because this forum makes it even easier for nutrition information to be spread, it’s now more important than ever for dietitians to be omnipresent on social media.
Inspire Healthy Living
One of the biggest reasons it seems so many professionals choose to post on social media is to inspire and reach others. Fortunately for dietitians, food photography and healthy living continue to increase in popularity, and are easy to portray on social media. This presents a great opportunity to make social media a forum to share meal ideas and promote healthy living in general. Think about how many times you’ve scrolled past an appetizing meal on Instagram or Facebook and been enticed to make it. As dietitians, social media is the perfect chance for us to inspire healthy living effectively and instantaneously, simply through photos and short captions.
Spread Correct Information
Nutrition is personal; not all dietitians follow the same playbook. Some support a vegan lifestyle, some believe in calorie counting, and others believe clients should never step on the scale. The different beliefs that RDNs hold are OK because they’re all evidence-based and supported by research. Yet social media growth and interest in healthy living has come with a negative consequence — more false information spread by non-nutrition professionals. It’s up to us as nutrition experts to put out as much accurate information as possible to make sure that anyone simply browsing for nutrition advice receives correct information and is properly educated.
Broaden Your Reach
In spreading correct information, social media provides the perfect platform to educate the broad public. Not everyone can afford to see a dietitian in private practice and some people simply might rather search for information online. For this reason, we’re incredibly fortunate to be able to have a say in the information that people search for. The more people we’re able to reach means the more people we’re able to guide to better overall health.
Engage with Clients
Finally, although self-disclosure can be a bit tricky when it comes to the client-dietitian relationship, engaging with current or potential clients is one of the fun perks of social media. Many of my own clients have found me through Instagram, and enjoy the ability to engage with me directly on the app. Clients have told me that they enjoy seeing meals photos to get recipe ideas, and that interaction with a dietitian on social media makes the RDN much more relatable to them. With so many clients on social media, showing our personalities and viewpoints on the forum often helps build our rapport with clients, even before our initial sessions with them.
As nutrition experts and professionals, most of us recognize the genuine importance of spreading proper nutrition education to prevent disease and promote an overall healthy lifestyle. Social media allows us to reach clients outside of normal business hours, as well as the general public looking for nutrition advice. Through social media, we’re granted the perfect forum to make our (evidence-based) voices heard — it’s critical that we take advantage of that opportunity.