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Today's Practice | Oct 2014

Tweet Me Up, Scotty!

The concept of social media teleportation.

As a kid, I was fascinated with depictions of teleporters in science fiction, dreaming of the day that traveling would take zero time and effort. We would all like to shout, “Beam me up, Scotty!” every once in a while. Like when you are treating the last patient of the night—the one who was not scheduled but called in with an urgent matter—and you have to get home and get dressed for tonight’s medical conference an hour ago, and you cannot even remember when you had anything decent to eat.

By the time you finally arrive at the conference, halfdressed and hungry, you have forgotten the name of the person you wanted to talk to. Quickly you start scanning the program in an attempt to catch up. The person at the reception desk has already left, and the lists of attendees have all been handed out. The rest of the evening you desperately try to have the interesting conversations you had been looking forward to all week, but, by the time you leave, you conclude that business networking is not easy. A teleporter, if it existed, could solve at least part of your problem.

Although a physical teleportation device is not yet feasible, our team has built a virtual teleporter for Erik L. Mertens, MD, FEBOphth, and his team at Medipolis—and we did not need quantum physics to get the job done. Our virtual teleporter uses social networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter to provide Dr. Mertens with the ability to transfer his knowledge without traversing physical space. But make no mistake: Not all those who tweet and blog are travelling space and time swiftly. When you have no clue how to use social networks, they can be an enormous time squanderer instead.

This past June, our team visited Medipolis to help Dr. Mertens prepare his lecture on marketing a private practice, which he presented at the American-European Congress of Ophthalmic Surgeons (AECOS) meeting in Barcelona, Spain. During his trip, our only means of contact was use of social media. This was the perfect way for our team to join Dr. Mertens’ team in Barcelona and for Dr. Mertens to join us when he needed assistance.


Dr. Mertens described virtual teleportation as “a liberating experience,” and he said it is especially useful useful when he is short on time or traveling for business or pleasure. He used social media not only to prepare for his trip to Barcelona but also during his lecture and afterward to stay in touch with valuable contacts. As a result, Dr. Mertens attracted 500 new followers to his Twitter account in just a few weeks. By selecting the right content and profiles and sharing the content at the right time, he succeeded in reaching out to a targeted group of medical professionals.


The above scenario is an excellent way to build a valuable network and to expand your reach among peers. After 1 month of strategic communication, we measured an enormous increase of reach: Today, a tweet from Dr. Mertens is received by approximately 4,500 users, reaching people who have never met him in person.

Many of these users are people with the same interests but in different locations. Twitter, along with other types of social media, is virtually teleporting Dr. Mertens and his ideas around the globe. Additionally, Dr. Mertens gets to hear from his peers without actually having to meet them.


You no longer have to wait for a yearly congress to share ideas; social media help you to be everywhere in the blink of an eye. As a bonus, by keeping in touch between events you reduce the time necessary to establish meaningful conversation at the next event. You can become what, in marketing terms, is called top of mind and have some conversation starters at hand—or start them even before arrival. Are you ready to become a networking pro?

I can still get a little melancholic over those sciencefictional teleporters from time to time, but today I have my smartphone. Whenever I am about to lose my grip on time, I get it out of my pocket and shout: “Tweet me up, Scotty!”

Philippe Bogaert is an MBA-qualified social media strategist and Cofounder and Director of Sales and Marketing at Finger Talks. He may be reached at tel: +32 475 26 78 76; e-mail: philippe@fingertalks.be .