Aesthetic Healthcare Providers Discuss Their Social Media Tips
7 suggestions to consider for Medical Aesthetics education
Social media isn’t just about emojis and selfies; increasingly, it forms a major part of a patient’s journey. According to a recent study, 95% of patients considering a plastic surgery procedure first consulted online sources, including social media.1 A respected analyst firm recently predicted that global sales of noninvasive aesthetic treatments such as facial injectables, which currently total approximately $60 billion, could triple by 2030.2
For Medical Aesthetic providers, it’s important to understand what role social media plays in influencing patients, but for professional growth as well. A recent study shows that a majority of plastic surgeons use social media to help educate their patients and grow awareness of their practice.3 So how can healthcare professionals do no harm in the virtual world? We spoke with 9 aesthetic professionals to better understand how they approach social media. Here are their top 7 tips for increasing its educational value.
1. Education should start with the basics. Introduce yourself to patients and other providers.
Anthony Moschitto, managing director of a leading med spa in Houston, says it’s important to establish your social media presence for anecdotal reasons as well as for business outreach.
“Patients say they learned about the med spa on the internet, or on social media specifically, so we know it’s having an impact,” Anthony said. Other practitioners recommend considering your presence across all social platforms as professional in nature.
Read more about what our experts have to say about fostering social media connections in Spark’s own “4 Technology Tips for Medical Aesthetics Professionals.”
2. Consider teaching techniques only to licensed professionals.
Los Angeles-area, board-certified Nurse Practitioner Leslie Fletcher, MSN, RN, AGNP-BC, says that seeing so much social media content from injectors focusing on actual techniques is distressing, and, from her point of view, it isn’t putting patient safety at the forefront. Trainings and techniques should be administered and demonstrated only by licensed, certified, experienced professionals under credible supervision. Those seeking training should do so from a verified and credible source. “I tend to be a little more conceptual with my educational content,” Leslie said. (See what else she had to say here.)
Much like Leslie, Northern California-based Julie Kaplan, FNP-BC, NP-C, MSN, CANS, CPSN, HCMT, PHN, started sharing her over 3 decades of professional experience with aesthetic lasers, dermal fillers, and neuromodulators via email; eventually, she migrated to social media. However, she began to realize there were drawbacks to teaching on social media, especially when she began to attract attention from the general public.
In order to be a part of the solution and not the problem, Julie created courses on the Patreon® platform to ensure that only appropriately credentialed providers, and not the general public, subscribe to receive her instruction. “They can learn [digitally] some techniques, some safety, and some protocols,” Julie explains. “It’s been great. And I'm still doing it. I love teaching digitally.”
Want to read more about Julie’s safety recommendations? Peruse her full article here.
3. Consider educating patients on realistic goals, not just what’s popular on social media.
In 2018, 53% of the world’s population were internet users, with 42% using social media.4 As a result, social media has helped to erase regional standards of aesthetic goals to some degree, but not completely. “There's definitely a different aesthetic in Miami than there is here, than there is in New York, than there is in Chicago,” said Alabama-based Dr. Corey Hartman, MD, FAAD. This is why he finds himself saying “no” to patients more than he says “yes.” “I have a more natural aesthetic, and if that's not for you, then I'm just not the doctor for you,” he says.
Dr. Hartman understands that dermatologists can help play a role in protecting people from becoming caricatures of themselves, and he guides his patients toward what he believes is best for them. “We still are the experts,” he says. He had a patient once say, “I may think I know what I want, but you know better what I need.” The patient added, “I wouldn't trust a doctor who gave me everything that I wanted. I need you to be my check and balance.”
Want to read more of Dr. Hartman’s advice? Check out his thoughts in “How Community Can Help You Find Success, According to Corey Hartman, MD, FAAD”.
4. Social media often starts the conversation but isn’t the whole conversation.
77% of Gen Z and young Millennial female aesthetic considerers use social media to learn about aesthetic treatments.5 New York City-based, board-certified Physician Assistant Denisse Serrano said that “the biggest ‘pro’ to social media is that it gets people to start thinking about what procedures they might want. It sparks within them the idea to call my office and make an appointment to see me in person. And then once they're in the office, I can debunk a myth or reassure them that what they read was true.”
Denisse also believes that the online world can offer much in terms of continuing education, both for those with years of experience in Medical Aesthetics and newcomers alike. “I spend at least 1 to 2 hours on a weekly basis, whether it's reading a medical journal article online, or looking things up on this platform called Patreon®, where there are other injectors who I admire that create great content and share their techniques,” she said.
Much like Denisse, board-certified Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Gaurav Bharti, believes that surgeons and their staff have a responsibility to carefully use social platforms for educational purposes.
“Sometimes social media leads people to do things or think of specific aesthetic ideals that may not be really what we would want our patients or our family members to pursue,” the North Carolina-based surgeon cautions. “In general, though, I think it has increased awareness of what can be provided. I think it's up to all of us to ensure that we are using it as an educational tool. We should be careful with what and how we portray things and make sure they're real and factual, and that social media is being used to better inform and educate our patients.”
Want more insights from Dr. Bharti? Check out his thoughts here.
5. Consider learning how to create social media content by doing it yourself initially.
According to Dallas-based Jennifer Pilotte, APRN, AGACNP-C, the best way for providers to learn how to create Medical Aesthetics social media posts is by doing it on their own. Although she now has additional external media support, Jennifer started off writing her own posts and learned invaluable lessons.
“I don't think that you can go directly to an agency without creating your own personal brand and understanding what that is,” she explains. “And now, I do have some help. But it's people I've worked with and manage very closely, because this is still my brand and my content. I would advise anyone starting out to do it yourself and learn and make mistakes and make crappy content, and understand what works through experience and trial and error.”
Read more about Jennifer’s experiences here.
6. Be aware that different generations often have different relationships to social media.
Amy Hatcher, APRN, a Tennessee-based, board-certified family nurse practitioner, has noticed that patients of different ages have varying expectations when it comes to how they wish to interact with social media.
Amy notes an interesting factor for patients in their 40s. “They don't always want to tell their friends about their treatment, and they don't always want their before-and-after pictures shared. They might be a little quiet about their experience and treatments. But on the other hand, our 20-somethings often want you to post their pictures; they want you to tag them; they want to take a picture with you. This attitude is amazing for our field and helps contribute to the growth of Medical Aesthetics! These young adult patients often shout about it from the rooftops.”
7. Responsible providers should consider encouraging patient education.
Dr. Gregory Buford, a board-certified plastic surgeon, describes social media as the “Wild West” because he feels that regulation is loose, peer review is lacking, and that almost anyone can say whatever they like. However, he believes there are still excellent sources of information online; it’s a matter of adjusting patient and provider expectations. “What I try to do is educate patients through my own social media, and we have a very vibrant social media page,” the Colorado-based Dr. Buford explains. “I'll talk about common myths within the industry.”
“What I would suggest to consumers is definitely to educate yourself before you go in, but keep a very open mind because a lot of the information that you get online may not be as helpful as you think it is." When a patient researches social media with this approach, the resulting consultation can be much richer for both patient and provider. “The patient comes to me, and when they’re well educated, it makes that conversation so much more fun,” Dr. Buford explains, “because instead of it being a monologue, it's suddenly more of a dialogue.”
Social media is a constantly evolving platform, which means that for aesthetic healthcare providers, learning how to deploy it successfully for educational purposes requires being open to discussions with both patients and fellow providers. Since Medical Aesthetics is a field that is also constantly growing and changing, social media can be a helpful tool to responsibly keep your colleagues and your patients well informed.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7028372/. Accessed April 5, 2022
https://www.economist.com/business/2022/03/26/botox-and-other-injectable-cosmetics-are-booming. Accessed April 5, 2022
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32590667/. Accessed April 11, 2022
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1748048519880721. Accessed April 18, 2022
Data on file, Allergan Aesthetics, March 2021