Published in Non-Clinical

Dos and Don'ts of Social Media for Optometry Students

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10 min read

Discover how optometry students and ODs can build their social media presence the right way and avoid common pitfalls in order to increase their influence.

Dos and Don'ts of Social Media for Optometry Students
From creating online friendships to generating income, social media has evolved our society. As of 2023, it was estimated that social media users numbered 4.9 billion worldwide, with most using six to seven platforms monthly.1 By 2027, this number is expected to be 5.85 billion.
Social media provides a place for anyone to share what they are passionate about and gives them the opportunity to curate an online community of similar-minded people.
Because we are all eyeball lovers, there is a place for us too on all social media platforms! It is so important to build your social media presence as a future or current eyecare professional.

The benefits of social media for eyecare professionals

As an optometry student, there is a wide range of beneficial reasons for sharing your optometric journey on social media, provided you follow best practices.
The benefits of using social media as an optometry student include:
  • Building community with other OD students in other schools around the nation.
  • Networking and connecting with current practicing ODs.
  • Inspiring and supporting pre-optometry students in college.
  • Creating an online journal of your struggles during school and seeing how far you’ve come!
As a practicing optometrist, some of the advantages of having a social media presence are:2,3
  • Advertising your practice and specialty services.
  • Mentoring future optometrists.
  • Relationship building with current practitioners around the nation.
  • Patient education and engagement.
  • Demonstrating expertise.
  • Creating funny optometry jokes/content that only practicing ODs will understand, allowing you to love your career even more.
My goal in this article is to provide you with the tools and confidence to begin building your social media presence online and share your love for optometry.

4 steps to develop your social media brand

When we talk about social media, we must be familiar with the term brand. Your social media brand is your online persona, identity, image, or reputation on social media platforms.
Your brand is how your followers, also known as your target audience, perceive you. Defining your brand can be determined by a myriad of factors, including your personality, voice, tone, color scheme, and content.4
To generate content that garners interaction and establishes a successful brand, there are four basic principles to incorporate.

1. Find your niche on social media

Finding your niche is the first step to developing unique and personal content that doesn’t get lost in the sea of competing posts.
When generating content, ask yourself these questions:
  • Who am I making this post or video for?
  • Who is my audience?
  • What are your passions and skills?
  • What can you share that adds value to others?
The answer to those questions is your niche! A niche is a social network on a social media site that focuses on a specific interest or hobby. Currently, my Instagram account’s niche is optometry, specifically pre-optometry and optometry students. Thus, my content will align most closely with individuals who are part of those groups.
Finding your niche also means researching demographics to see which platform(s) will best serve your needs and allow you to reach your target audience. This will keep you from expending energy on the wrong platform while those you hope to reach are scrolling elsewhere.5

2. Strive for a cohesive aesthetic

Your posts should contain unity. This is where your branding contains a visual identity or style, aka your aesthetic. When your content follows a cohesive style, it helps your personal brand stand out from others!
My favorite apps for creating visually appealing branding are:
One method for creating a unified look to your page and posts is by utilizing the fixed grid system. The grid consists of a 3x3 layout of individual post elements—photos, videos, captions, or logos—that work in tandem to create a structured and striking profile.
Figure 1 is an example of an aesthetically cohesive fixed grid layout on an Instagram account.
Center column fixed grid IG
Figure 1: Courtesy of Svetlana Nunez.
Utilizing this visual strategy allows you to establish a professional presence without the use of a design company. Once your initial grid has been established, you can save valuable time by simply switching out and updating the elements.6

Tip: Follow this link to Instagram for Eyecare: How to Use the Fixed Grid System with Downloadable Guide to learn how to fully utilize this feature.

Also, check out these optometry Instagram accounts to see excellent examples of aesthetics: @eyeamdrnadia, @dr.blythe.od, and @visions.of.vasudha.

Figure 2 below is an example from my personal Instagram account, @FutureDr.Nunez.
Svetlana Nunez IG grid
Figure 2: Courtesy of Svetlana Nunez.

3. Write compelling captions

An engaging caption is one way to increase your reach. The caption is simply the text that accompanies your photo or video, which may contain elements such as @mentions, emojis, and #hashtags. Once you’ve attracted individuals to your content, your caption is another tool for keeping them involved with your post and inspiring interaction.7
Captions should be:7
  • Authentic: Be yourself and be honest.
  • Relevant: Make sure you are keeping up-to-date with current optometry trends.
  • Focused: Use your best writing skills to hone in on a single topic for greater impact.
  • Interactive: Ask a question or take a poll.
  • Useful: Offer your audience valuable information.
  • Amusing: Don’t be afraid to use humor.
Figures 3 and 4 demonstrate examples of long and short captions, respectively, each sharing different challenges I faced.
Long caption IG
Short caption IG
Figures 3 and 4: Courtesy of Svetlana Nunez.

4. Use appropriate hashtags

Also—believe it or not—hashtags work, so make certain to include popular and relevant hashtags within your captions to get more attention and engagement to your posts. Hashtags label your content so others can easily find content that interests them.
Hashtags begin with the # symbol and should be spelled out with no spaces. Though they can contain numbers, symbols or punctuation is not permitted. They can be applied both in the caption and comment sections.8

For example, some appropriate optometry student hashtags are:

#optometry #optometrystudent #optometryschool #optometrist #eyecare #vision #eyedoctor #eyes #glasses #eyehealth #eyewear #optical #eye #eyeglasses #eyeexam #contactlenses #eyewearfashion #optometrylife #glaucoma #frames #retina #eyesurgery #cornea #cataract #fundusexam #ocularhealth #dryeye #clinicalrotations #eyedoc #eyechart #macula #dilation #refraction #od

Numerous hashtag generators also exist for various social media platforms. These websites and apps can help increase your reach and optimize the performance of your content.

5. Be consistent

The most effective way to ensure consistency is through content planning. While working or in optometry school full-time, posting and producing content might seem overwhelming. We are all familiar with being available one week and then the next week being unable to breathe due to the amount of pressure at work or school.
Now, many social media platforms have the ability to schedule content. Choose one day of the week to work on content. Let’s say you prepare two to three posts. Schedule each post to be released on a different day, and you will appear more active than you actually are!
Moreover, it is so helpful to keep a note in your phone of the posts you would like to create and plan your posts a week to a month in advance. This will help you keep accountable for regularly posting, as the more regular you are with your posts, the faster you will build an online community!

Social media dos and don'ts for optometry students

A properly orchestrated personal and professional social media presence can raise your reputation, offer visibility, highlight your experience and knowledge, and help forge valuable connections. However, you can also undermine your future career by making common social media mistakes.9
When posting to social media, DO:9
  • Assume all future employers will thoroughly examine your accounts.
  • Post photos that reflect the image you want to convey 10 years from now.
  • Bring attention to your accomplishments.
When posting to social media DON’T:9
  • Post images with drugs, alcohol, or weapons; this seems like a no-brainer but cannot be emphasized enough.
  • Make inflammatory or slanderous statements.
  • Use crude language in your posts or captions.
  • Tag others without permission.
  • Reveal personal information or location that could jeopardize your safety.
Also, consider the following DON'Ts to make your overall posting experience more genuine and enjoyable:
  • Don’t share the good only: There is no need to pretend that you have a perfect life on social media. Share the good, bad, challenging, and easy times because that is what life is about!
  • Don’t let fear stop you from making optometry social media accounts: If you are reading this article, I strongly encourage you to begin your optometry social media accounts and regularly post.
  • Don’t let negative comments stop you from continuing to post: When you post on social media and make your posts public, you are bound to receive a negative comment, but don’t let it ruin your passion!
  • Don’t amount your value as a person to the number of likes or followers you have: Your true value is not based on your followers on social media.
  • Don’t place social media as your first priority: Your mental, physical, and emotional health are first. Take a digital detox when you need it.

In closing

Creating a social media account for your optometric career comes with a multitude of benefits from networking, marketing, job opportunities, mentoring, and more that I can not wait for you to experience.
Whether you’re an optometry student or a seasoned optometrist, don’t underestimate the value that social media can offer to your career path.
  1. Wong B. Top Social Media Statistics And Trends Of 2024. Forbes. Published May 19, 2023.
  2. Vargo S. Social Media: Your Eye Health and Vision Education Tool. Review of Optometric Business.
  3. American Optometric Association. Be a social whiz. American Optometric Association. Published February 5, 2019.
  4. Kowalewicz R. Building A Strong Social Media Brand Identity. Forbes. Published December 8, 2023.
  5. LeadsPanda. 4 Tips for Finding Your Social Media Niche. LeadsPanda. Published March 11, 2024.
  6. Purdy A. Instagram for Eyecare: How to Use the Fixed Grid System with Downloadable Guide. Eyes On Eyecare. Published September 26, 2023.
  7. Forbes Communications Council. 15 Strategies For Crafting Engaging Social Media Captions. Forbes. Published May 23, 2020.
  8. O’Brien C. How to Use Hashtags Effectively on Social Media. Digital Marketing Institute. Published December 28, 2023.
  9. Claybourn C. Social Media: Do's and Don'ts for College Students. US News & World Report. Published April 28, 2023.
Svetlana Nunez
About Svetlana Nunez

Svetlana Nunez, a third-year optometry student at UC Berkeley's Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry & Vision Science, discovered her passion for optometry when her mother faced temporary vision loss following eye surgery. As a first-generation Latina, she's dedicated to providing academic and career guidance to aspiring optometry students. Her post-graduation plans include pursuing a residency and eventually opening a private practice. In her free time, she enjoys painting, pilates, surfing, and baking gluten-free desserts.

Svetlana Nunez
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