American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Consumers

Social Media Focus: Determining the right kind of content for your followers

What types of content are your followers interested in? It's the question every ASPS member surgeon asks – or should ask – before participating in an Instagram Takeover. Realizing the importance of Instagram to connect with and educate prospective patients, the Society in 2016 launched a program allowing active members to take control of the ASPS Instagram account for a day and bring patients along with them through the process of plastic surgery – from the initial consultation, to the O.R., to follow-up with before-and-after photos.

Despite the array of participating surgeons who grabbed the ASPS-account reins for the day, each member prepares with that same question – and that's very telling.

Winning the 'content' battle

The answer to that question isn't just relevant to our Instagram Takeovers. Every professional in every industry seeks the right blend of content to be successful. Social media is the new age of advertising, and winning as a practice means you also have to win in the digital arena.

For plastic surgeons, social media is a unique marriage of education, marketing and patient acquisition. In just one post, you can educate prospective patients on the importance of choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon – while simultaneously bringing them inside the practice and helping them get to know you before they even come in for a consultation. In conversations with ASPS members over the past four years, I've been overwhelmed by the number who cite social media as the reason for their success. A remark such as, "The patient said they felt comfortable coming in for a consultation after seeing my Instagram story" is increasingly common, proving the power of these new-age tools.

As an ASPS staff liaison who has overseen more than 30 social media takeovers, I've developed a sense of what works on our Instagram account. The Society posts plenty of educational content across social media, but Instagram Takeovers consistently attract tons of followers. In the two years since we launched Instagram Takeovers, our following has more than quadrupled – and the numbers always surge around Instagram Takeovers.

This is because we can give followers the content they love to consume the most: an understanding of what happens during plastic surgery. Prospective patients considering plastic surgery want to know what to expect. There are hundreds and thousands of resources to read online, but Instagram and social media can immediately take them behind the scenes and provide instant insight.

Illustrating the journey

A plastic surgeon and his or her staff can take followers into a consultation to share the experience. People can see what it's like to meet with the doctor and begin to imagine their own experience. Although they're not meeting you, they can begin to develop a sense of who you are, and over time, even feel comfortable with you before ever setting foot inside your practice.

One of the most popular photos we've ever shared in our three years on Instagram is an ASPS member surgeon holding her patient's hands before anesthesia for the procedure. Patients want to feel comfort knowing they're in good hands. This very literal image was a figurative home run, showing the compassion a surgeon had for her patient's wellbeing just before surgery. Such snippets can showcase your personality and connect with prospective patients at an intimate level.

If a follower is interested in a breast augmentation, liposuction or any other procedure, they can view clips inside the O.R. of how it's done – all while sitting on their couch. They can see how the surgeon works and feel at ease as they come to realize they would be in good hands. Many plastic surgeons use the Instagram Takeover as an opportunity to show what they do, how it's done and why they do it that way. Why did you do the incision there? Why did you choose that type of implant? How does this provide better results than other techniques? The platform lets you not only educate, but also showcase all the steps you take to ensure patient safety and excellent results.

Those results, of course, are what followers care most about. In almost all of our Instagram Takeovers, some of the most-consumed content is live video from follow-up visits, along with before-and-after photos from surgeries in the past. If you just showed followers a tummy tuck, you obviously can't share those results right away – but you can wrap-up your focus on that procedure by sharing photos from similar tummy-tuck cases in the past. When your patient today comes in for a follow-up later, feel free to close the loop on that patient's story through social media.

The prospect of surgery can be scary. Patients want to know they'll be safe and get their desired results. Followers who are thinking about plastic surgery want to know what to expect. The content that provides that information always causes huge spikes in engagements and followers on the Society's account – and I'm willing to bet you'll see the same thing in your practice if you comb through the data that's available through Instagram and third-party apps such as Sprout Social.

What our followers want to see is the journey – they want to have a better idea of what they're getting into before ever talking to a surgeon. Prospective patients can get to know you not by your results, but what they can expect from you every step of the way. Seeing how easy it is for your current patients to speak with you in a consultation. Watching first-hand the care you put into ensuring each patients safety. Realizing how much you care about the results you provide for patients.

This specialty is a partnership between doctor and patient, and social media can forge a unique connection even if those two have never met. Show your followers who you are and what you do. If they're following you, they're probably already interested in your work. Now it's time to take them through the experience. Let them see that they're picking the right partner for this journey. That's the content our followers – and your followers – want.