17 Aug Read This Before Following that Influencer Advice!
Social media can be a a place to share, spend time, relax… but on the other hand you can also get misinformation, waste time, and become stressed out. One of the most visible parts of social media is the rise of the influencer. These individuals typically focus on areas like fashion, beauty routines, relationships, health (and more) and sometimes boast impressive credentials – or none at all. Most of them produce content including videos, workshops, downloadable e-books, photos, and more. The term influencer came about because many of them do, in fact, influence us! Whether we’re influenced to try a new diet or workout routine, or buy a product, many of us have been influenced by a content creator.
While there is a ton of great content out there, there is also a ton of misinformation – and in the world of online health content creators, this can be risky advice to follow. There is no online standard for offering opinions or advice; and even if a creator claims to have specific credentials, it’s important to verify that they really do. There have even been short-lived social media scandals with a creator being outed for claiming a job, education, or training they don’t actually have. And then there are the coaches. Coaches can be anything from a life coach, to a relationship coach, to a posture coach. Some coaches have taken classes or coaching courses but others may not have any training or education in the area they offer advice about. Some may just repeat and recycle information they’ve gained from the internet, with minimal (if any) experience in the field.
We get it! It’s fun to follow your favorite creators on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, etc. It’s also important to watch for red flags before following specific advice. This is especially true when it comes to your health, because you aren’t actually seeing a specialist for a diagnosis – at best you’re guessing and also hoping that the content creator knows what they’re talking about! Talk about a gamble…
Social Media Healthcare Content Red Flags:
- A “cure-all” technique, product, or pill: There aren’t many magic pills out there but there are a lot sold on the internet! When someone tells you they can “fix your back pain with one stretch or supplement” that’s a pretty bold statement. Without knowing you, your history, your specific condition, and any potential causes, it’s pretty hard to say that one movement, product, or supplement can fix it! When it comes to supplements, there is a lot of marketing and not always much research. If you’re interested in trying one, check with your doctor first.
- Their knowledge/education is lacking: It may not always be easy to tell – your favorite creator may sound experienced and knowledgeable…and still get basic anatomy wrong or offer harmful advice. If you follow healthcare influencers, verify that they have the credentials they say they do, especially if they claim to be a specialist like a doctor, physical therapist, mental health therapist, or other.
- They “gatekeep” the information: Sometimes content creators will share just enough info to hook you into a paid video, call, or other paid content. While many reputable content creators do have some paid content, such as books, video series, etc., they also tend to offer a wide variety of content including free content. Any creator who works to shuttle you directly to paid service/content should probably be avoided.
- Their advice sounds familiar…too familiar: Unfortunately, there are unqualified content creators who use the content of credentialed medical professionals in their own content. When inexperienced “coaches” take advice from qualified pros, it may be done with the best of intentions; however, they aren’t qualified to do a deep dive, explain the content, or answer specific questions viewers have. If you stick around the same topic long enough, you’ll likely see content that’s been taken from legitimate medical providers and repackaged by those without the proper training.
- They present story as fact: Content creators who lack the proper training and education will often refer to stories or experiences instead of training and research. Trained medical professionals are able to share their years (often decades) of education and training and must stay current on licensing requirements and advances in their field. While a trained medical professional may share a personal story with you, it is typically to illustrate their point – which is backed by research, study, experience, and education.
- Their advice just sounds bad: Content creators are in the business of getting their content in front of lots of eyes. That can mean some pretty outrageous claims and advice, designed to keep you coming back for more content. If something they are claiming or recommending sounds questionable, it’s time to do some research on your own and preferably ask a qualified professional.
What to Do When Watching Health Content Creators:
- Verify Credentials When Possible: Almost all qualified health content creators will include their titles and credentials. A simple online search can often verify that they have the experience and training they claim.
- Remain Skeptical: If something sounds too good to be true, look into it further. Don’t assume just because it’s someone you enjoy reading or watching that what they’re sharing is 100% accurate – especially if they lack credentials and/or experience.
- Check With Your Health Team: If you are curious about content you saw, or want to try a treatment or medication, it’s time to talk to your personal health team.
- Remember They Don’t Treat You: Blanket advice doesn’t always apply equally to everyone. While some statements are fairly accurate (“you should get quality sleep”) others are not (“this stretch will improve how your neck feels”). Without actually examining you – and possessing the right training – at best it’s hopeful advice and at worst it can be harmful.
It’s most important to remember that online advice isn’t the same as seeing a professional in person. For example, there are plenty of content creators who share physical therapy tips – but without actually evaluating you and your complaints, it isn’t as useful. You might be watching content that’s perfectly valid…for some people – but not for you! It’s always a good idea to schedule an appointment with a health care provider who can evaluate you, discuss your concerns, answer any questions, and provide follow up care.
At Body One we strive to create valuable content and educate people on physical therapy and how it can benefit almost everyone. We treat patients of all ages and activity levels and focus on one-on-one care. You’ll typically work with the same provider during your treatment. We have three convenient Indianapolis locations: Fishers, North Meridian, and Zionsville. If you’re ready to get PT and get better, give us a call!