There’s no doubt that social media can be a powerful tool in a healthcare marketer’s toolkit. With many consumers spending more time on various platforms, social media has become an effective way to connect with patients and prospects; provide education for consumers and peers; and increase brand visibility.  

But is it being used to its full potential when it comes to plastic surgery marketing? 

According to one recently published study…probably not.  

In “The New Era of Marketing in Plastic Surgery: A Systematic Review and Algorithm of Social Media and Digital Marketing,” researchers identify a wide discrepancy between the percentage of consumers using social media and plastic surgeons who regularly post to various platforms, representing an “untapped area that could benefit patients and plastic surgeons on numerous levels.”

Published online February 2023 in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal Open Forum, study authors describe the results of a meta-analysis of data “to determine the most valuable and useful social media platforms for practicing plastic surgeons developing their practice by assessing the perceived value to the practice and quantifying return on investment.” Of the 3592 articles evaluated during the initial search, 16 met the criteria to be included. 

Here, we provide key takeaways from the study and describe a social media marketing algorithm developed by the researchers to help increase patient/prospect engagement and boost plastic surgery practice growth.

Social media and the field of plastic surgery

Citing numerous studies, the authors note that the surge in social media use over the past decade has made it an important tool for healthcare marketing. For plastic surgery, this is especially true, since it provides surgeons with a valuable avenue for direct-to-consumer marketing and a channel for prospects to find the right surgeons to meet their needs.

“More specifically, social media has been demonstrated to serve as a critical tool for plastic surgeons, facilitating patient engagement, peer-to-peer education and learning, and outreach to the broader public community,” they write. “As such, we have seen a large shift in social media usage in plastic surgery across the last decade.”

In this context, study authors underscore the importance of remembering that social media platforms vary in terms of which demographics use them the most — and that being very intentional with content types and phrases may yield the best results. 

An “age-specific social media marketing algorithm” for plastic surgery

To make the most of social media marketing, the researchers say that plastic surgery practices must remember that the right content needs to be delivered on the right platform — and that both factors should be determined by the age of the target audience.

They note that while Instagram is “increasingly popular” for users under 35 years old and that Facebook is the “most used platform across all age groups,” millennials are more likely than baby-boomers to use Snapchat and Instagram. For baby-boomers, Facebook is often the go-to choice. 

In addition to age-specific platform choice, these different demographics also vary in the types of plastic surgery procedures they’re interested in. 

By combining study results with the most recent Aesthetic Society procedural statistics, researchers provide the following age-, platform-, and content-specific recommendations:

  • Ages 17-35: “…the most common procedure performed is breast augmentation. Given that this generation is more likely to be found on Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok, an ideal social media marketing strategy for this age group may include utilizing these platforms to emphasize the aesthetic components of breast augmentation. It may also be prudent to advertise private postings, as this content may be perceived as likable and relatable to the younger generations.”
  • Ages 36-70: “…the most common procedure performed is liposuction. This generation is more likely to be engaged on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. To effectively market to this generation, it may be important to smile, wear a white coat, and avoid overly scientific information, focusing on the safety and education of liposuction.”
  • Ages 70+: “…the most common procedure performed is blepharoplasty. These patients may be less likely to use Instagram and TikTok but may be engaged on Facebook. The 70+ age group may also prefer before and after photographs over procedural videos of blepharoplasty. It is important in this generation to smile and wear a white coat, as this behavior is deemed professional and may be crucially important in establishing rapport and credibility.”

Taking all of these factors into account, study authors created a straightforward “age-specific social media marketing algorithm for a plastic surgery practice,” which can be viewed here. In addition to these recommendations, study results revealed additional considerations plastic surgery marketers should keep in mind — which are available by accessing the full text.   

When used strategically, social media can be a powerful marketing tool to support patient acquisition and boost brand awareness. Contact us today to find out how we can help level up your social media marketing strategy to support the growth of your plastic surgery practice.