If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you already know many of the reasons we believe aesthetic professionals need to embrace social media: Patient education. Reputation management. More effective marketing to today’s consumer.
But, in light of a recent study by researchers at UCLA, there’s one that may trump all of the above: Love it or hate it, there’s a good chance your competitors are embracing social media to the detriment of those who don’t.
Published in the May issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (PRS), the study, Social Media Use and Impact on Plastic Surgery Practice, analyzed the responses from 500 members of ASPS. Among the findings:
- 50.4% of respondents use social media in their professional practice vs. 49.6% who don’t.
- Among those who use social media, 38.5% report posting messages weekly, 26.5% post monthly and 12% post daily.
- Of those who use social media, 54% have a designated staff member manage their social media activity vs. 46% who manage it themselves.
Perhaps the most compelling findings, however, relate to the answers doctors gave when they were asked why they use social media in their practice. Among their answers, in ascending order:
- 21.3%: said it facilitates more efficient communication with patients
- 24.3% said it generates new patient referrals
- 25.5% said it gives them a competitive edge
- 27.8% said networking with peers and colleagues
- 49% said it provides a platform for patient education
- 52.1% said it’s an effective marketing/advertising tool
And the No. 1 reason? 56.7% said incorporation of social media into medical practice is inevitable.
The bottom line is simple: Today’s consumers don’t buy anything — neither shoes nor electronics nor the services of plastic surgeons — without researching the businesses and service providers they’re considering. They ask questions of other users, they devour online reviews and they begin narrowing their choices long before they pick up the phone or send an email.
Given the above, the 49.6% of doctors who don’t use social media are missing a golden opportunity to connect with potential patients who are unlikely to find them any other way. Inevitable or not, the trend is obvious and the alternative is obsolescence.
Interacting with people worldwide with some kind of online network will be part of our social fabric, says Rod J. Rohrich, MD, PRS’s editor in chief. Now is the time to get together and start communicating with patients, colleagues and students about plastic surgery.