Dietitian vs. nutritionist vs. health food advisor vs. food blogger vs. fitness instagrammer
Who do we trust?
How do we know their advice is evidence based?
Is the amount of followers they have equal to the validity of their advice?
It’s a minefield out there, and us dietitians sometimes feel like we are tiptoeing around trying to relay the best evidenced-based advice out there to our patients, whereas someone less-/un-qualified ploughs through and makes their non evidence-based advice widely known; and because it sounds fun and is promoted by a ‘social media influencer’ usually is followed by a lot of the public. This is not to say people shouldn’t trust any of the above mentioned people who aren’t dietitians, but it is important that they know how to recognise evidence-based advice.
I have previously written a post on dietitian vs. nutritionist here, and I do still get asked a lot about this difference. This made me think, dietitians need to continue to raise our profile and clearly social media is a fantastic way to do so!
Just look at how many social network users there are worldwide, and the growth since 2010! (image taken from statista.com)
Wondering which platform to start with? The below graph shows the social network sites worldwide ranked by number of active users as of October 2018 (image taken from statista.com)
*Platforms have not published updated user figures in the past 12 months, figures may be out of date and less reliable
**These platforms do not publish MAU data, user figures from third-party report
The British Dietetic Association (BDA) are keen for us to raise our profile, and have released some professional guidance viewable on their website for members. The HCPC also has social media guidance we need to comply with.
So where do you start? Here are some useful tips for using social media as a dietitian:
- Think about your USP and what your target audience is
- Set up a professional account, rather than adding to your personal account
- Keep your ‘brand’ consistent across multiple social media platforms
- Support other dietitian’s accounts by sharing, commenting and promoting them
- Stick to subject matter within your area of expertise
- Make sure you have all the facts before posting
- Share some recent journals or articles you have read, this can be a great CPD tool
- Consider the social media guidance from your professional body (i.e. BDA) and the HCPC, also your employer or organisation if you are mentioning them
- Respect diversity and other’s opinions
- Remain polite and appropriate when disagreeing with other’s opinions
- Never share confidential information without consent
- Ensure photographs have no confidential information in the background
- Don’t be scared of social media
- Go for it!
A few dietitians I would recommend you follow on Instagram (apart from me obviously!)
And here are some useful BDA Twitter accounts to follow:
@BDA_TradeUnion – news and updates from the Trade Union team.
@BDAWorkReady – the campaign account.
@SENr – tweets from the Sport and Exercise Nutrition Register, hosted by the BDA.
@BDA_Events – account promoting all BDA related events.
@BDAStudent – tweets from the Student Representative on BDA Council.
@DieteticSupport – updates from the Dietetic Support Worker Representative on BDA Council.
As for me, I have been running my Instagram page @aboutadietitian for just over a year now and I find it a really fun and powerful way of raising awareness of being a dietitian, networking with fellow dietitians, and sharing some healthy recipes and tips. I try to promote other dietitian’s I follow through my page, by commenting and liking their posts. I have also learnt some great tips and advice through this platform which I can relay to my patients.
Do let me know in the comments if you are a dietitian on social media, and link your account(s) so we can support each other!