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Social care is based on confidentiality yet social media sites are built on the free sharing of information. On the face of it there appears to be conflict of interest, but these seemingly opposite worlds can be mutually beneficial, as social worker and owner of iamsocialwork, Zoë Betts discusses.

"We're taught early in this career the importance of keeping information relating to the role, confidential. Code seven of the HCPC Standards of Proficiency is to be able to maintain confidentiality and that local authorities should go to great lengths to limit the leaking of information. Yet there's this active community gathering online, creating an energetic platform for us to engage, as people realise the benefits that building online connections on a professional level can bring. Like so much of our lives these days, one of the most favourable ways to connect is online. We are social creatures and social media focuses on that fundamental communication. I'm an advocate for using social media professionally. Twitter has generated an enormous amount of connections and opportunities for me; my first article for The Guardian was on the back of a Tweet and being asked to expand my 140 characters.

One of the first things I ask people who approach me for advice is if they are on social media. It seems an insensitive response, but in stark contrast, it has nurtured a home for one of the strongest support networks in this industry. It’s vast and the amount of social work professionals actively using Twitter is impressive. Chief social workers Lyn Romeo and Isabelle Trowler are active users, as are numerous academics, practitioners, students, MPs and even our Minister of State for Community and Social Care.

Here are three reasons I think you should join too:

1. It's FREE! Just sign up to Twitter and you're off. It's a level playing field out there, and the more actively you use it, the better. Ask your question without the pressure of standing up in front of 300 people. Search through other users 'following' lists to find interesting people. Or just use it to read and absorb if you prefer.

2. Larger networks of support strengthen your practice. Always put yourself at as much of an advantage as you can and this is a great place to do it. Creating more links with professionals will strengthen your abilities, leaving you better informed and more supported with a wider knowledge base.

3. It's perfect for CPD. So much content is shared on social networking sites; it makes for ideal CPD on your commute. Record in your CPD log as self-directed learning, or even ‘updating knowledge through the internet’ – yes that’s an HCPC work example!

There's a wealth of people online whose faces I may never know, and with memorable hashtags, such as #MondayMotivation, we feel connected and are able to share stories. Specific case discussion is not the focus; it's about broader learning themes and reaching out for support from each other."

To read Zoë’s article in full, turn to pages 16 -17 in the current issue of Sanctuary Social Work News magazine.

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