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Are we all influencers?

I was watching an old 60 minutes episode on catch-up TV.[1] The story focussed on a teen girl who had been diagnosed with Orthorexia, a crippling eating disorder that nearly took her life.

The girl admitted that she spent her life on social media, following "beautiful" people and surviving solely on the "healthy" vegetable and fruit smoothies the "beautiful people" were spruiking.

Also interviewed was psychiatrist Dr Mark Berelowitz from the Royal Free Hospital in London who warned our obsession with social media has taken a dark turn. Long running media coverage of the prosecution of wellness blogger Belle Gibson and some of the incredibly dangerous claims of celebrity chef Pete Evans are evidence of this.

Some of the claims made by Pete Evans include

  • His bone broth recipe was a good substitute for commercial baby formula as the full nutrition option for babies (subsequent research showed it could be potentially fatal).

  • Regular sunscreen is highly toxic.

  • Paleo diet can cure autism

  • Eating dairy is bad for you

  • Three meals a day is too much and fasting is the way to go

  • Fluoride added to drinking water is a neurotoxin so tap water should be avoided

And guess what. He has absolutely NO qualifications to offer this advice (the IIN course he has done is not a formal nutrition qualification).

People look at this stuff on social media and unfortunately some think it is from a reputable source. There is so much information out there these days, who has the time to research some of these claims?

And you don’t have to famous to influence people. I’ll admit – if you do want to encourage people to steam clean their vaginas it does help if your name is Gwenyth Paltrow (fun fact – in a recent interview she actually stated she’d never done it herself – she delegated the “research” to one of her staff!).

Our clients trust us as knowledgeable health professionals. That is the basis of relationship and it is something we foster. Therefore, you need to think before you post. Some questions to ask before you post or share:

  • What is the original source of this post?

  • What sort of claims is it making?

  • What are the possible consequences of someone blindly following this advice?

  • Is it ethical for you to recommend this product/procedure/remedy to your clients?

The TGA are very clear about their advertising guidelines[2] . You must be very careful to not encourage inappropriate or excessive use of a product, and every code of conduct that applies to massage therapists in Australia states you must stay within your Scope of Practice. Whatever you post on your business page can be considered to be advice. Trust is the cornerstone of your relationship with your clients.

Here are some examples of what NOT to post. These all popped up on my feed within 15 minutes of each other and were all posted by Massage Therapists that I follow.

The trouble with all of these posts is NO CONTEXT. They don’t reference the original source. They don’t tell the reader if you are qualified to offer this advice. They all give the reader unsupported advice that they could use to self-diagnose and self-treat.

We all want to run a successful massage business. We all want to make a living from it. All the business gurus tell us that Facebook marketing is critical to our success.

If you do promote or publish links to products, consider following the following guidelines.

· Always declare you are sharing the post from another source.

· Always reference the original source, not just where you are reposting from.

· Make sure the original source is credible and legitimate.

· Advise the post is for interest only and should not be used in the place of medical advice.

· Unless you have the appropriate NRT, declare the fact that you are not qualified to offer advice on supplements etc

· Add the disclaimer to always discuss with a qualified health care professional before taking/using supplements or if you plan to stop taking any prescribed medications.

Remember – your clients trust you. If you are in doubt post a picture of a puppy instead. Everyone love those.



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