Social Media Helped Me Make Stronger Industry Connections

With an Instagram following nearing 20,000, Dr. Wademan shares how she got started with social media and how she manages to stay true to herself online.
Photo Credit: Moment RF, Getty Images

My journey with social media started several years ago when it was still somewhat new. At the time, I was starting to hear things around the industry about the importance of being on social media and putting your practice out there. I had a staff member who wanted to create a Facebook account and an Instagram account for our practice, and I didn’t really know much about Instagram then, so I let her take the lead. She was a lot younger than me, and she knew the ins and outs, so I gave her the go ahead to start posting pictures and updates about the office.

After some time of her running the accounts, I decided to join in. I like photography, I like creating things, so I started to add a few things to our pages here and there, and it slowly evolved into something I took over as I grew more interested in it and I wanted to share different things. 

My Instagram started as something that was dedicated to our practice. Social media was starting to develop a lot more, and you’d see a more personal aspect behind different accounts, which is when I thought about making posts about not only just the practice, but about being an optometrist. I thought it could be a platform to share about eye care, optometry, being a small business owner, and being a mom — all these roles that I carry that I’m passionate about. 

I felt like I could only go so far as a business account for my office, and I wanted to share more. Then, during COVID, I found myself with a lot more time on my hands. I had gone from being a business owner and being involved in clinical care every day to having the office closed and everyone being at home. I wanted to do some things for myself that would occupy my time while I wasn’t managing the office in the way I was used to. Since then, my online presence has grown, and I’ve been able to connect with people in different ways. I’ve also been able to grow as an individual and professional and give something back by sharing what I do. It’s important to me to elevate this profession and lift it up as much as I can. 

Contributing to Optometry in a Different Way
When I was first starting this social media journey, I wasn’t sure anyone would be interested in following my optometry account. I didn’t follow my dentist or my primary care doctor, and I didn’t think many people would want to follow me. This allowed me to focus on building my personal brand — not necessarily to gain followers, but to make social media fun and contribute to optometry in a different way. 

In terms of practice growth, I feel that because there’s more of me online than there ever was before, that’s helpful for patients to find me, or for people within my community to see my name coming up. I’ve had a lot of patients who have seen me online or new patients have discovered me that way, so I’m inclined to think that it’s helped my presence online and my presence within my community. 

Connecting with Others in the Industry
Professionally, being on social media has allowed me to connect with a lot of different people in the industry — other doctors, new companies — just different connections overall that I never would’ve had before. I’m a relatively introverted person, so it’s opened up doors there that have allowed me to connect with certain people, which has been really rewarding. I’ve been in practice for a while now, and social media has introduced other professional opportunities – whether it’s writing or being a part of an editorial board or promoting general awareness of optometry. I’ve been able to connect with people within the industry or outside of the industry to do things on a larger scale. 

I’m also at a point in my career where I want to add more on and grow and discover other avenues outside of clinical care. I have a ton of experience with clinical care and with patients, and that’s been rewarding to grow over the years. Now, I’m figuring out other ways to grow myself and discover new things that I can be passionate about. 

The Ups and Downs of Social Media
As much as I’ve gained from social media, there are also challenges associated with having a constant online presence. It’s hard to balance everything. There are times when I feel burnt out or overwhelmed and have too much on my plate. Or, there’s a season where there’s a lot going on at home with my family. Successfully juggling all of that work can be stressful, especially when you start working with different companies, you have deadlines, and it’s not just creating content in my free time. Learning what I can add to my plate has been a real lesson for me. I always look at opportunities to help me grow, but sometimes I just can’t do it. When it’s at the sacrifice of my own time or time for my family, I know I need to pass. 

It’s also just hard to be online and on social media sometimes — there’s a lot out there. If I spend too much time on it, I always need to take breaks and remind myself that there’s a whole real world outside of the world of social media. 

Focus on What You Enjoy
One of my biggest pieces of advice for anyone getting started with social media is to find the parts about the journey that you enjoy. If you focus too much on wanting to grow and wanting to have more followers, it can be really hard. 

There are times where I love a video I put out, and I barely get any views. Then there’s other videos that I feel just okay about, and then all of a sudden, I get a ton of views or engagement. It’s so spotty, and sometimes can be discouraging, but find what you enjoy about the process, and don’t get too hung up on all those other things. In the back of my mind, I still want to create content for me and what I like. But also, when I have to create content for other companies, I need to be able to balance that to still make it fun and not so much an obligation. 

Share the voice that you have as an individual. When you stay true to yourself and you have fun with it, rather than focusing solely on engagement, you’re going to get the most out of it. 

  • Jennifer Wademan, OD

    Dr. Jen Wademan earned her Doctor of Optometry degree from the Southern California College of Optometry in 2008. Evolving to a private practice owner in 2011, she has built a space dedicated to promoting a modern approach to eye care with cutting-edge technology, innovative products, specializing in ocular surface disease and myopia control. Beyond the confines of her practice, you may see Dr. Jen Wademan contributing as an author or content creator, in addition to occupying several advisory and editorial board roles. She continues to stay involved in numerous organizations to promote eye care education, including the American Optometric Association, California Optometry Association, Ocular Wellness and Nutrition Society, Tear Film and Ocular Society, Global Myopia Awareness Coalition, and Optical Women’s Association. To contact her, email [email protected]

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