Digital communion for your practice requires an endless pipeline of content on relevant and timely topics. Associations like the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS), the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons regularly publish survey results that are goldmines of information for physicians who want to better understand the aesthetic market and communicate with potential patients via social media.
Case in point, a recent ASDS survey captured more than 7,300 consumers’ thoughts about cosmetic procedures, a virtual snapshot of what’s on their minds.
“A survey like this comes out, and it’s clearly how consumers are thinking,” says Solana Beach, Calif. dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon Melanie D. Palm, M.D., M.B.A.
Among the findings of the survey ASDS released in August 2015:
- Five in 10 people are considering a cosmetic procedure.
- The specialty in which the practitioner is board certified and price are the two top things consumers look for when selecting a practitioner.
- 66% of those surveyed indicated ultrasound, laser, light and radiofrequency treatments for skin tightening and wrinkles was their top procedure category choice. That was followed by laser hair removal, microdermabrasion, and laser and light treatments for redness, tone and scarring.
- A whopping 88% said they were extremely bothered by excess weight on their bodies; 72% mentioned skin texture and discoloration. Other categories that more than half of consumers ranked as extremely bothersome were forehead lines and wrinkles, glabellar lines, crow’s feet, mid-face and cheek area lines and wrinkles, sagging facial skin and excess fat around the neck.
- The three top reasons for wanting cosmetic procedures are to look young, appear more attractive and feel more confident.
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Read Between the Lines
The biggest insight to come out of this survey is that half of those surveyed said they are considering cosmetic procedures.
“To me, it’s extremely important [for doctors] to convey that information to the patient — with their blogs, with their social media, with their emails, with whatever marketing initiative they’re doing. The point is to say: ‘Hey, by the way, you’re not alone,” says Drew Leahy, director of marketing and business development, Incredible Marketing, Irvine, Calif.
In other words, there’s no shame in having cosmetic procedures. Knowing that, people who may not have felt previously admitting that they want a cosmetic procedure might also find the courage to come forward.
While the first stat is encouraging, there’s another that is concerning, according to Leahy. It’s that 45% of those responding said price was a top influence in their selections of practitioners.
This number indicates that consumers are looking at many of today’s most popular cosmetic procedures as commodities.
“I think what the consumer is doing, is saying it’s not necessarily the person doing it, but rather it’s the machine,” Leahy says. “The doctor — the medical practice — isn’t doing a good enough job at… positioning itself as irreplaceable or priceless in the eyes of the patient.”
The marketing solution, according to Leahy, isn’t to get into a price war. Rather, it’s to educate consumers about the doctor’s value as a trained dermatologist or surgeon. And social media is the perfect platform.
Doctors’ content strategy on websites, blogs, Facebook and other social media platforms should be to establish themselves as thought leaders in aesthetic procedures and the specialties to be trusted with patient care. The goal is to build trust among those who get to know you on social media, according to Leahy.
Another finding in the survey suggests consumers are turning to specific medical specialties for their cosmetic procedures. In the case of the ASDS consumer survey, dermatologists were the physician of choice in seven cosmetic procedures, including “injectable wrinkle-relaxers” and “laser/light therapy for skin redness, tone and scars.”
Whether you’re a board-certified dermatologist or have credentials in another related, reputable area of specialization, doctors should ride that wave of support, Leahy says, by putting their certifications, including board certification, on everything they do.
“Too often doctors hide their certification inside their CVs. And most people don’t know what a CV is,” Leahy says.
He suggests physicians put specialty certifications on every web page on their websites (because visitors don’t always enter on the home page), as well as in blogs, emails and more.
“Quality and expertise count, so whether we’re doing a TV segment, or we’re doing something on Facebook or rolling out a new procedure, we always credential me,” Dr. Palm says. “… there are a lot of non-experts, non-core physicians that are moving into the field, so how do you differentiate yourself and express to patients the value of a board certified dermatologist … somebody with years of training, experience and ongoing education to provide them with the highest level care? Social media is a way to do that. We talk about it when I’m involved with a study, or that I sit on an advisory board, or what I’m speaking about at a meeting. That really sends a strong message about education and safety.”
Doctors that effectively communicate credibility, experience and trustworthiness eliminate price as a determining factor, according to Leahy.
“They’re going to come to you because they know you’re the best,” he says.
Create a Content Strategy
Social media communicating requires an endless pipeline of content on relevant and timely topics. Associations like the ASDS, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons regularly publish survey results that are chock-full of content topic ideas.
For example, doctors might want to write about the most popular procedures identified in the survey.
“By the same token, because they’re most popular, it’s also probably because most doctors are doing the same thing. So, in the overall content strategy, instead of writing basic content, you really have to differentiate yourself with those procedures,” Leahy says.
Ways to differentiate include putting a new spin on an old procedure.
“With Botox or Dysport or one of the toxins, we may talk about treating a patient for facial shaping, or for an area that’s not your typical angry 11’s. So, for example, we may talk about injecting a muscle called the masseter to make the face less square and more oval-shaped,” Dr. Palm says.
Being an early adopter or in a clinical trial is another great angle that differentiates practitioners.
Dr. Palm’s practice also uses mixed media, including video, to differentiate her messages. If there’s a procedure that’s making news or is new to her practice, one of Dr. Palm’s staff uses an iPhone to do a quick video of Dr. Palm performing or talking about the procedure. Social media videos don’t have to be as polished as an ad on television, according to Dr. Palm. In fact, it’s more important that it’s authentic in its portrayal of the doctor and what that doctor does. In a two-or three-minute video, Dr. Palm’s personality comes out and she educates the public as a credible doctor in that procedure.
“We tie that [video] into messages that we put on Facebook or in our blog entries so that becomes one message over time,” she says.
Surveys also offer insight about why consumers are turning to cosmetic procedures, such as wanting to feel more confident and more attractive. Doctors should appeal to those needs with their content.
“What this reinforces is you’re not selling Botox, microdermabrasion or laser hair removal, you’re selling self-esteem and confidence,” Leahy says. “And you have the proof.”
That proof, according to Leahy, are patient success stories. He recommends that practices share those stories by video, if patients approve. Boring case studies or the occasional testimonial doesn’t pack as much marketing power as a short video, starring actual patients.
“Use social media as a megaphone to broadcast success stories. Put these patients on camera. The barrier to entry for video is so low. You can shoot a legitimate customer success story, where the patient is on camera telling about how they have these procedures and came out of them feeling more confident with higher self-esteem. Share the success stories in every single piece you do, whether it’s a blog post or anything digital marketing,” Leahy says.
The take-home message for cosmetic practices about how to incorporate industry surveys into social media marketing, according to Leahy: Know how to interpret the data and allow that meaningful data to influence your marketing strategy moving forward.
See for Yourself
For examples of Dr. Palm’s blogs with video, go to: http://www.artofskinmd.com/blog/
And to see how she incorporates credentials and content on her website, go to: http://www.artofskinmd.com/.