Social Media Focus: Using evergreen content to replace social media marketing
Ah, marketing. You're a plastic surgeon, your business is performing well, you're board certified – so why in the world do you want to be a huckster and "sell" all the time and find different ways to describe your skills and results to prospective patients? Why is there an ever-present demand to create content?
Whether you are just starting or established, in an aesthetic or reconstructive practice or operating in the city or country, the fact is that you have potential patients that you have not yet met. They seek answers, and creating content and answering their queries will not only help their search, but it will also reduce the questions they have for you in your office. Content creation is fairly simple, but it requires a career-long commitment to consistency and creativity. The good news is that the foundation of this content can be evergreen.
Evergreen trees always display the same, functional foliage – regardless of the season. Your social media content should have that kind of reliable functionality.
Focus on writing or creating video and audio for your website first. You control your website, and it's an investment that cannot be cancelled. Although it takes a commitment to boost your website under a popularity algorithm, known as search engine optimization (SEO), your website establishes an important cyberpresence for you that won't go away. If you answer timely or short-lived questions (e.g. queries about fashionable procedures, celebrities and topical news), you may get attention, but you will not get the long-lasting results of content that will always attract eyeballs.
It does not matter if a common question has been answered repeatedly online or through ASPS – patients want your opinion and take on a question. They not only want an answer, but to get to know the plastic surgeon who could be performing his or her procedure. By creating content and answering a question, you are revealing your strategy and personality about an important topic. You will eventually find a like-minded group of people that want to consult with you and then choose you to do their procedure.
All plastic surgeons answer the same questions for nearly every procedure. These include inquiries about who is the best candidate for said procedure, the risks, the benefits, before-and-after results, recovery time, how long results last – and there are probably more that you can offer.
Create a spreadsheet of common questions and concerns, and fill in the same spreadsheet with your top 10-20 procedures. This basic exercise will provide you enough questions to answer on your website or social media accounts for the next year.
Patients will constantly have questions for as long as you're in practice. When you write down and answer these questions – or create a short video with your answer on the topic – this becomes the evergreen content to which you can repeatedly turn, offering your take and personality on the matter.
Maintain a focus on creating text, video, audio or any combination that displays your originality and utilizes your content on your website. Only after that should you repurpose your content for social media platforms. Social media has different audiences and different formats for appropriately sizing media – not to mention limitations for captions and explanations. It might take a bit of editing, but you can always create a condensed version of the content you created for your website to be used on social media.
Alternatively, you might just want to create content for social media. If you choose this track, however, it's important to remember that you don't have the same control of that content as you would on your website. You don't control how it is shown within the algorithm of the social media platform, and the attention generated by the content goes to the social media company – not necessarily to your website or office. The same is true for any Q&A platform that is not owned by you.
Consumers definitely love the convenience of scrolling through beautiful images, getting answers from different plastic surgeons and gathering information for the procedure that they want. However, they will make a decision for their aesthetic or reconstructive concern eventually, and will often make their choice based on the content with which they're presented online or through social media. Even if a personal connection isn't formed via the text, audio or video – sometimes an invaluable psychological connection is.
I have discovered that by answering common concerns online, patients often refrain from asking you about these issues during their consultation, since they already know your answer. This frees up time for more personal questions that are specific to the individual, which could actually make your consultations more efficient.
A nice side benefit is that new office staff may have fewer questions as well. Any new hire can read or watch videos that you have already created to cultivate an understanding of your opinions and policies with regard to how you perform various procedures. Ultimately, evergreen content isn't just about saving your time down the road – it's about saving your patients' and staff's time as well.
Dr. Kim is a member of the Social Media Subcommittee and is in private practice in San Francisco.