Is it possible to build a patient base with social media? No, really — without a practice website or other more traditional marketing means? Practice management pros wouldn’t advise it, but it’s a new world and the younger generation continues to redefine the rules. Case in point, Jason Emer, M.D., a young, successful dermatologic surgeon moved to Beverley Hills just over a year ago. Not only has Dr. Emer created a successful brand there from the ground up, but he’s also primarily promoted himself and his business through various social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.
This is his story.
Before making the move to Beverley Hills, Dr. Emer spent about a year in San Francisco training with numerous successful dermatologists and plastic surgeons in facial fillers, peels, laser and light treatments, skin cancer surgery and plastic surgery, including liposuction. This was after completing his two-year dermatopharmacology fellowship at the Mount Sinai School of medicine in New York City with Dr. Mark Lebwohl. While in San Francisco he worked for the practice of Dr. Andrew Menkes, and like many young and hungry physicians, Dr. Emer quickly realized that he wanted more — his own brand; his own practice.
“I wanted to create an Image, a brand that provides care akin to a fancy concierge service at a luxury hotel,” explains Dr. Emer explains.
So he reflected on the state of the aesthetic industry and realized that it tends to be primarily financially driven, not procedural or relationships driven. He wanted to change that.
“I knew I wanted to build personal, long-term relationships with my patients, like that you have with family,” says Dr. Emer.
His vision was to turn the pay-and-go industry to more of a comprehensive care industry, similar to a concierge service that offers 5-star hotel-like care and attention.
So he did what any young man with stars in his eyes would do. He packed up, and moved to Beverly Hills. And, yes, he’s taken the industry by storm — developing his own brand and catering to not just women, but men, especially of the younger generation who are interested in cosmetic surgery and preventative treatments. In fact, more than 50% of his practice is now made up of men.
“I discovered a niche community, of men, both gay and straight, seeking a natural enhancement, preventative treatments, down low procedures with quick recovery such as fillers, lasers, microneedling and ab sculpting. I connect with these men because I practice what I preach,” says Dr. Emer.
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As a young, successful cosmetic physician, Dr. Emer has proven to be more than just a skilled dermatologic and cosmetic surgeon — he is a skilled social media pro. His secret? One part media strategy; the other part friendly authenticity.
His approach is media-centric and includes up-to-the-minute updates, videos and pictures, including authentic and compelling information. He shares everything, the good and the bad, the personal stories and experiences that demonstrate that he is approachable and personable — to anybody who has ever been interested in cosmetic surgery or in finding solutions for signs of aging.
“I’ve treated my mom and other family members, all while sharing these experiences on my social media pages. People want to see the reality of these procedures and events, and what better way than showing it on your own family members? It’s like starring in my own reality TV show. I share everything. It draws people in and keeps them interested in who I am personally, as well as my professional skills," says Dr. Emer. "The millennials care most about education and experience, but also want more — to connect with a physician. And that includes personality, trust and relatability. Someone they can develop a relationship with who truly cares and understands their goals and desires.”
According to Dr. Emer, “The initial goal was to get the information out there, especially in a highly dense, competitive cosmetic market like Beverly Hills. The question was 'How?’ Social media outlets gave me the way — posting before and after pictures, as well as 15-second or longer videos to share these experiences.”
In this way, the public has access to media that shows how Dr. Emer is closely intertwined with his work — that he understands the whole journey and doesn't want any patient to feel confused or to have a less-than-optimal experience. He also wants them to feel comfortable sharing their own experience in social media in return. Evermore so, he wants them to truly understand the importance of expertise, skill and training with regards to medical devices like lasers, injection techniques with fillers and contouring procedures like liposuction. Highly followed social media posts coupled with numerous positive real-life online-reviews influenced the start of a booming practice.
“I take all online reviews very seriously. I'm not happy if my client isn’t. The goal is positive experiences and results. It’s about the journey and our interaction; the relationship that is developed rather than the individual procedure or money spent. I feel great pride when I see clients of mine posting images of their journey with me on their private pages,” says Dr. Emer.
But he also takes his social media interactions to an even more personal level. It’s no secret that most cosmetic surgeons might feel a little uncomfortable getting too personal (if at all) on social media. The day Dr. Emer shared a picture of him kissing his dog on Instagram was the day he entered the land of “oversharing.” But it worked. Among the countless likes and comments, he heard, “If you kiss your dog like that, then I know you’ll treat my mom exactly the same — with love and care!” It’s entering this personal space that has revealed Dr. Emer as a doctor with a personality, and this is exactly how he sets himself apart from other surgeons.
Another way Dr. Emer has successfully cornered the market through social media is by marketing to a very specific patient niche. He has targeted aesthetically minded men with body sculpting, specifically hi-definition etching, which has become a practice staple, according to Dr. Emer. He takes athletic or semi-out-of-shape individuals and transforms them by removing fatty problem areas, sculpting muscles by creating etched lines as seen in a six pack or washboard stomach; transferring fat to muscles of the chest, buttocks and shoulders to contour an athletic look; and then uses energy-based devices to tighten the skin, such as ultrasound, laser or radiofrequency.
Dr. Emer has had some work done himself, by his mentor and good friend Dr. Alfredo Hoyos — king of 4D Hi Def Lipo in Bogota, Columbia — and he posts pictures to show what others too can achieve. At the same time, he doesn’t hide the fact that he leads a healthy lifestyle. He shows it off in gym posts and images of what he’s eating, but he also balances these with pictures of procedures that help to put on the finishing touches.
“I practice what I preach, I live the healthy lifestyle and hit the gym, just checkout my IG posts. My life is a complement of cosmetic surgical procedures and a healthy lifestyle,” says Dr. Emer. Several 15-second clips on Instagram show snippets of the procedures and help the potential client to really see what he is capable of.
“The end goal should always be enhancement or improvement that can be maintained by the right preventative procedures in the office and proper diet, exercise and lifestyle modifications outside the office. And this is for both the body and the face (skin)!” says Dr. Emer.
Sharing this much of his life means that he sacrifices his privacy, but according to Dr. Emer, it’s perfectly fine with him. He has and continues to build his reputation through his social networks. He shares everything, which continues to draw people in. And just like the power of reality TV, his social media activity keeps people coming back, which leads to more business.
Today, Dr. Emer has incorporated more of the traditional marketing components, including a practice website which will be live by March 2016. But don’t think for a second this website will be traditional. For over a year he has been filming with Hollywood film crews to create documentary-style stories, patient testimonials, procedural videos and photoshoots with models representing all the facets of his own personality and practice philosophy. Nonetheless, Dr. Emer built the foundation of success for his practice much earlier using social media and non-traditional approaches.
“Everybody deserves the celebrity treatment and a physician who truly cares about outcomes and success … and I am the one to give it to them.”