American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Consumers

Social Media Focus: Be the star of your own reality TV show: An Instagram TV Guide

The world of social media is in constant flux and as plastic surgeons, we must be able to pivot and adjust accordingly. Time and again, our profession has proven itself quick to adapt to new aesthetic trends, the latest technologies and new social media platforms. Instagram remains popular in the aesthetic world, thanks to both its visual nature and ease of audience engagement.

Beyond that, Instagram also made itself adaptable to the changing climate of social media, marketing and networking with the addition of various features to compete with popular existing platforms. For example, Instagram released its "Stories" feature as a response to the popularity of Snapchat. More recently, Instagram TV (IGTV) launched to compete with YouTube and it's seen its popularity rise over the past few years.

Social media is no longer just a place to post photographs of your family or vacations in the way it was 10 years ago. In a similar fashion, younger generations are not watching TV the way we – or as their older siblings – would have at their age. They spend more time on their smartphones, with almost half of Generation Z'ers watching their favorite shows on social media. By comparison, about one-third of Generation X'ers and millennials do the same. This is due in part to the popularity of YouTube, which has become the most used video-streaming site in the world. The platform features everything from product testimonials to educational and entertainment content for a range of audiences – but importantly, it provides a means to share unique content easily to a large network of viewers.

To remain relevant and claim the market, Facebook in 2018 launched IGTV, which provides an easy way for followers to view videos that can range anywhere from a minute to an hour. Initially, there was a steep learning curve and video restrictions only allowed vertically oriented videos – which limited its use. Content already generated for Stories also could not easily be converted. In the time since, however, functionality has improved and more businesses are embracing IGTV for its diverse marketing purposes. Plastic surgeons have caught on; they're actively using Instagram and these additional features to promote their practices and educate the public.

Real-time messaging

As social media becomes even more interactive, the option of having video demonstrations, either through IGTV or Instagram Live, offers more realism than the overly touched-up and filtered still-frames that grace our feeds. This takes patients a step further in getting to know their surgeon long before they set foot in the office. They see us in real time – talking, teaching and interacting – which creates that relationship and furthers their trust in the surgeon.

The COVID-19 pandemic plays a huge role in these changing paradigms. With the world around us shut down, many people turned to their phones for entertainment or education, or simply to satisfy their boredom. As surgeons (with more time on our hands and our O.R.s idle), we capitalized on the extra time as a way to interact with patients in their own homes. We transitioned to virtual models for patient consultations and follow-ups, and many of us have long since overcome any concerns about being camera shy. Many surgeons took to Instagram Live to discuss procedures with colleagues or patients. They showed glimpses of their private lives and opened their feeds to Q&A with the audience. IGTV became more popular as live stories could be saved on IGTV for an audience to watch in the future.

Although IGTV is not yet searchable, there are some tips and tricks that allow for more successful use. First and foremost, the user should already have an Instagram following to ensure the audience will find your video. Utilizing influencers or micro-influencers can also help promote your videos. When using IGTV, aim content at your target audience – the under-40 demographic that primarily uses Instagram. For plastic surgeons, this is our breast augmentation, rhinoplasty and injectable population. IGTV is probably not a good marketing strategy for facelift patients, as they are more likely to use Facebook.

Posting previews on your main Instagram feed or in your Stories is another great way to increase engagement on IGTV. These previews provide viewers a 60-second sneak peek of the video. Users then have to click on the IGTV icon to continue watching. Once in your IGTV profile, viewers can then easily access other videos you've posted and saved. This feature has substantially increased views.

Remembers that viewers' attention spans are short and limiting videos to three minutes is helpful. Keep your videos short, engaging and unique. Invest in a tripod to stabilize the video and a halo light to create that glow you've always admired in influencers' posts. A high-quality microphone is key for professional and crisp-sounding footage.

YouTube still holds the market share with the widest audience and views, but for those of you who already have a presence on Instagram, IGTV offers an easy option to engage your followers and expand your content with minimal extra effort. Although YouTube might gain more views, IGTV offers more engagement as a platform. You will see your Instagram account grow as you continue to use IGTV – and as usage increases, we predict the company will continue to evolve to meet users' needs.

Our IGTV story

If you spend too much time determining the right moment to start something new, you might never start at all. We found that jumping right in is the best way to commit. Our involvement started after we filmed some casual, public-facing videos together at Plastic Surgery The Meeting 2019. The videos generated strong engagement and after we posted them to our IGTV, friends and colleagues requested more. Our followers were so engaged that it encouraged us to create a weekly show by which followers could tune in and ask questions. "Lipo & Lipstick" debuted on IGTV in June as a way for us to discuss the topic of women in surgery, as well as burnout and wellness.

It's important to be flexible and listen to your audience. We tried broadcasting at different times of day and tackling a variety of topics – both professional and personal – to engage our audience. Instagram provides insights on everything that's posted, so it's important to follow these and make changes as necessary.

The key to success, as in all areas of our field, is to be adaptable and patient. It can take time to catch wind, but the platform is invaluable in connecting with patients, and in providing accurate and reliable information about plastic surgery from the experts themselves.

Drs. Ramanadham and Amalfi are members of the Social Media Subcommittee and practice in New Jersey and New York, respectively.