Unintended Consequences: The Social Side of Plastic Surgery Marketing

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

Young woman taking a selfie of herself on a smartphoneThank you Facebook! The American Academy of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) should send a warm note of appreciation to FB founder Mark Zuckerberg. The reason? The organization’s board-certified plastic surgeons are seeing a big jump in patient requests for facial procedures–because people want to look their best on social media.

We don’t know if Mr. Zuckerberg planned it that way; maybe it’s an unintended consequence. But the AAFPRS regularly tracks and reports industry trends, and, perhaps not surprisingly, member surgeons report a 31 percent increase in patient requests linked to appearance on their social media accounts.

With a tip of our hat to Healthcare Success Associate Creative Director Simona Ramos for the research, TIME (and several other media sources) reports spikes in cosmetic surgery requests in recent years: “Social media is all about seeing and being seen, so it’s not surprising that the ubiquity and frequency of posts are fueling our vanity.”

Elective procedures have been trending upward, with breast augmentation being the most common cosmetic option. Other procedures include botox treatments, upper-arm lifts, rhinoplasty and facelifts.

Social media is a visual world…

Facebook isn’t the only outlet for selfies, profile pics and friendly videos. But with over 1.5 billion monthly active users, Facebook is the world’s largest people-to-people online platform. I don’t know who has time to tabulate these kind of numbers, but about 1 trillion photos are taken each year. That would include a boatload of self-portraits…300 million or so are Instagram pics, for example.

Vanity? Narcissism? Or just the human species with the technical wherewithal (and curiosity) to cross-connect around the globe? Research continues on those questions, but two things seem evident for plastic and cosmetic surgeons.

First, social media—facilitated by nearly universal availability of smartphones and the Internet—is a personal forum where appearance is a significant value. And, second, from a marketing perspective, social media is a pervasive media for building communities, engaging with image and appearance conscious people, and prospectively attracting elective plastic surgery cases. In addition, social media advertising, including Facebook ads, may be a useful consideration.

A successful plastic surgery marketing strategy has many moving parts. (Let us know if you’d like our assistance with that.) But research confirms that social media is a useful connecting point for plastic and cosmetic elective care.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

Related: Cosmetic Surgery Marketing & Cosmetic Surgery Web Design

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.



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