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17/07/2013 by
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Plastic Surgeons Live Tweeting Their Way To Marketing Success

Social media can go a long way towards demystifying cosmetic surgery, and a new trend of live Tweeting procedures is sweeping the industry in an attempt to do exactly that.

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Plastic surgeons, cosmetic doctors, and aestheticians are coming to recognise that with the frequent column inches botched treatments generate in the press, business-to-consumer marketing has to focus on total clinic transparency with patient care at its heart, in a celebration of what cosmetic enhancements can provide.

From Facelift to Facebook? Explore more in this guest story.

Plastic Surgeons: Tweeting Towards Marketing Success

RealSelf CEO Tom Seery suggests that doctors tend to fall into one of three categories when venturing into social marketing.

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There’s the Crawl stage, which is basic reputation management, and possible for those who have not had the virtues of social revealed to them quite yet.

The Walk stage, wherein doctors feel comfortable sharing their expertise online and developing their presence into an authority for press and consumers alike.

And finally the Run stage- the pinnacle of successful social media strategy wherein a dialogue with potential patients generates word of mouth buzz, and thus more business.

The Run Stage At Plastic Surgery

Dr Jennifer Walden recently hit headlines for her interpretation of the Run stage- and then some. Last month the Texan surgeon documented fat injections, liposuction, a face lift, and an eye lift across several social media platforms, to massive success.

With the consent of her patient, 49-year old Johnna Nesqora, Walden’s staff used Twitter, Vine, Instagram and Facebook to provide step-by-step live updates right from the Operating Room, all hastagged #liveOR (live operating room) for easy storify-ication.

Walden’s social media stunt was inspired by UCLA’s live brain surgery feed. To celebrate Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center’s 500th deep brain stimulation operation, surgeons documented, through Vine, Instagram and Twitter, a step-by-step account of the surgery.

Lead neurologist Dr Nader Pouratian told The Huffington Post, “Not everyone gets to experience a surgery… I thought it was a great opportunity to share it with the world.”

Speaking to MediBeauty.biz, Dr Walden echoed the same sentiments. “I think we as a speciality need to embrace social media as an avenue to reach the public for education regarding what we do, how we do it, and as a means to demystify procedures.”

With regards to the public reception to her social media stunt, she added, “The response was larger than I expected. Without giving away too many of my secrets, let’s just say I gained Twitter and Facebook followers, and some patients booked consultations.”

Plastic surgeons have been leaders among medical specialists in the development of digital media to promote their practices, but currently only about half of plastic surgeons utilise social media tools.

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In a study published in the May issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), approximately 50 per cent of plastic surgeons polled said they use Twitter, Facebook and other social media to help market their professional practice.

Response from 500 surgeons revealed that Facebook is the most popular platform, followed by LinkedIn. Results suggest that surgeons who primarily perform cosmetic plastic surgery and who are private practice are most likely to use social media.

Dr Reza Jarrahy, an associate clinical professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery says, “Because of our current level of engagement with existing online content, plastic surgeons are uniquely poised to become leaders in developing the future of social media architecture to the maximum benefit of practitioners and patients alike.”

Some remain reticent about crossing the line from professional doctor to social media marketer, though.

Plastic surgeons who don’t use social media cite several reasons against its use- most predominantly that it is difficult to maintain professionalism in a social media context, doctors must strive to protect patient confidentiality, and there are concerns about being too accessible.

Most of those interviewed conceded to the inevitable integration of new social media into traditional marketing strategies, acknowledging that social media is an effective marketing tool and an important and useful forum for patient education.

Almost a third also said they felt online marketing provides an efficient, low-cost means of advertising, providing increased exposure to their practice.

Dr Reza Jarrahy said: “Social media platforms represent a dynamic and powerful tool to educate, engage, market to and directly communicate with patients and professional colleagues.”

“However, for plastic surgeons, the potential benefits associated with using this tool must be balanced against its potential pitfalls.”

My Opinion
The innovative social media techniques used by Walden and Pouratian absolutely bring a new paradigm to how we inform the public about cosmetic procedures.

However, in accordance with regulation across the world, this should be monitored to ensure that surgery isn’t glamorized or normalized.

The focus must be on education, and as such it’s probably only a matter of time before a social media regulating body is enforced within the industry.

What About You?
Do you agree with me? Should surgeons be able to promote their products over social media freely, or should there be a governing body put in place?

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About the Author
Laura Jane Williams is London-based writer of successful blog Superlatively Rude, and works in collaboration with Courthouse Clinics.

 

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Comments (1)

  • Laurens Bianchi 17/07/2013, 13:49

    Interesting story! Thanks for sharing! Do you have an example available of a Vine posting?