Social media: why we should use it more and better!


Today’s guest post about nurses and social media is by Rhonda Wilson MHN. Rhonda is a mental health nurse, clinician, researcher and teacher. Her specialist research and clinical areas include the emergent mental health problems of young rural people, drug and alcohol misuse, social media for health professionals and e-mental health.

Naturally, Rhonda is active on social media! Follow Rhonda on Twitter @RhondaWilsonMHN and under the hashtags #RuralMH #MentalHealth #Nurses and #mentalhealth.

Like Rhonda on Facebook at Rural Mental Health Nurse and follow her blog, Rhonda Wilson MHN. Download and share her ABC radio podcast series: Bush Remedies –  You and your mental health.

The time has come – health professionals should embrace social media and use it to promote health, wellbeing and recovery to the multitudes!

There are a great many opportunities to enhance the health of individuals and communities through social media. And I think nurses in particular should be at the forefront, leading the charge to a healthier future…

Rhonda Wilson.

I think this very strongly, so I gathered up several other colleagues and together we reviewed the literature to figure out just how this could be achieved. Now we have published our first paper on the topic: Nurses and Twitter. The good, the bad and the reluctant.

Here are a few facts from our paper:

– 75% of the developed world population now have a smart phone

– Facebook has 11.5 million Australian users and half of them check Facebook at least daily

– Youtube has 11 million Australian users

– There are 17.4 million smart phone subscriptions in Australia – and rapidly rising

– Four out of five professionals use some form of social media.

– Young people have a high uptake, and proficiency, of social media.

Increasingly health carers will need to communicate and offer services and health promotion utilising social media, because that is fast becoming the standard mechanism for convenient communication.

…and if the isn’t convincing enough, this is what nurses have been up to using Twitter at conferences:

At the Congress of Nurses Conference in Melbourne, May 2013, delegates and non-delegates participated in a dynamic, unplanned and spontaneous Twitter conversation prior to, during and after the live face-to-face conference of about 4000 delegates.

A total of 221 individual tweeters engaged in a lively conversation about
nursing issues from 19-25 May 2013, using #ICNAust2013.

Conference organisers did not organise or encourage the Twitter conversation. Most of the posts consisted of an exchange of ideas about paper presentations. Other conversations developed where colleagues arranged to meet face to face using Twitter as a communication tool. A total of 3000 tweets using #ICNAust2013 occurred during this period, half of the tweets and mentions amongst the top 10 influencers identified in their usernames a connection with one university in Australia.

The top 10 influencers (nine nurses and one health journalist) for #ICNAust2103 were users with larger cohorts of followers and these users developed a cumulative impression footprint which numbered one million connections, while the total cumulative impression for #ICNAust2013 was 1.4 million. Thus the conversation of the conference of just 4000 delegates had a wider SoMe impression that extended to 1.4 million Twitter users ( 

The actual impact and the impression footprint are quite different; however the potential for influence should be noted.

And more recently… at the 39th International Conference of Australian Mental Health Nurses in Perth, October 2013, nurses were again out in force on Twitter! About 400 delegates were present but there were over 140 individual Tweeters producing in excess of 1000 tweets and with a digital impression of about 600,00 using #ACMHN2013.

There is much good that can come out of nurses embracing social media and becoming advocates for fair, equitable and healthy changes for people and communities.

Challenge – let’s see how much good we can achieve!

Previously on Nurse Uncut: Nurses should embrace social media – carefully!


  1. Hi Rhonda,
    I am a big believer of social media for Nurses. I run a Facebook page for a nursing agency, Carestaff Nursing Services, on the Gold Coast and it has been very successful for keeping our nurses in touch with many nursing issues plus the odd funny post.
    Many nurses are wary that the agency will look at their perosonal pages but this is not the case and there are settings so only friends can see your personal page.
    The page is a place of sharing too and I have built a great community.
    Thanks for your article, it was great and I’ll post it up on the weekend.

  2. Social media can be a great tool for our practice. It can support the connections we make in nursing, help us build new ones from way across the other side of the world that we would not ordinarily meet and it’s a great way to share information. I also love the fact that each platform is slightly different in the way that you approach what you want to share.

    I have found there is still some fear and resistance around using social media. In my experience it is well worth exploring this as often what we think it is, is nothing of what it’s like. Because social media is so widely used now, there is always someone to ask who can give support if you want to get started.

    I get comments all the time from people at work that read my Facebook posts. Often they don’t comment on the page but will say something to me at work – so you never know who is reading your posts.

    Nurses have a lot to say and we need to have our voices heard widely throughout the community and social media is a forum where we can do this. There is also a lot of fun to be had.


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