LinkedInDuring Social Media Week APHA is sharing the many ways that social media continues to advance public health. Today, we check in with Patrick Benko, a devoted and avid runner, manager of online marketing at APHA and the administrator of APHA’s LinkedIn page.

LinkedIn, largely known as a professional and networking social media platform continues to expand in opportunities that reach far past posting job experience and increasing contacts in their networks. Learn how APHA’s LinkedIn presence has grown and the new ways it allows public health professionals to engage with one another.

Q: LinkedIn is known for its professional focus and networking opportunities. Could you tell us more about the opportunities LinkedIn uniquely affords the public health community that other social media outlets do not?

A: LinkedIn is, at its most basic element, a professional social media platform. Aside from that, what makes it so unique is the amount of information you can share about your professional career. They have room for everything:  the classes you took in college, the places you volunteer, certifications you’ve earned, any job you’ve ever worked and even the project you are working on right this minute.

I won’t say that you need to fill out every detail of your work life but it does give you the opportunity to really showcase the accomplishments that are most noteworthy. We in public health have so many differing types of experiences that aren’t always easily organized or connected. LinkedIn gives you that place.

Public Health professionals can also use LinkedIn to develop their voice as a subject matter expert. This is especially true in groups. Group posts can reach thousands of users providing big visibility for yourself and your content. It is an easy way to reach many people without having to do the work of gaining followers as you might have to do on other social media sites.

Q: What public health moments on LinkedIn have stood out to you?

A: The greatest moment I’ve seen is when a college student asked our American Public Health group about volunteer work and what they wished they had done more of during their undergraduate years. She received 80+ well thought out comments from across the public health spectrum. Not only did she get their advice, but she was also able to look at their profiles and see where those people were in their career and what field of work they were in. I can’t think of any other platform where her post would be shared as widely and would generate as many responses from such a credible and accomplished community of public health professionals.

Q: What difficulties have you faced on managing APHA’s LinkedIn page and what recommendations do you have?

A: Just as in any other networking situation it can’t all be about you. What that means on LinkedIn is don’t be overly self-promotional. Over time, and through trial and error, we learned that our best posts were the ones that allowed others to share their expertise or gave them content they might not have found through our other platforms. What didn’t work was just posting a link or being bland in the description.

To put that into practice, think about how you might promote a new blog post or article you wrote.  A good post would say “Do you agree with my thoughts on xyz?” instead of blurting out “Hey, read my new blog!”

Q: What tips do you have for someone working in public health on how to get the most out of LinkedIn? Are there any emerging trends they should be aware of?

A: The best thing you can do is have a presence on LinkedIn. Fill out your profile as completely as possible. LinkedIn is a search engine with its own set of algorithms. The more content you have on LinkedIn the more likely you are to be found. You don’t have to log in every day but your information should be up to date.

It also isn’t just for getting a job when you are unemployed. Some large organizations use LinkedIn to find internal candidates for promotion. Reporters use it to find subject matter experts. LinkedIn even helps nonprofits recruit volunteers and candidates for their board of directors.