The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) has reported that social media activity may be driving an uptake in cosmetic surgery requests as providers exploit the technology to connect on a personal level with users and reach new patients. Accessing social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn and Instagram is probably the number one mobile activity and has revolutionised the way that the cosmetic surgery industry can communicates with customers to build trust and create online communities.
Social media platforms provide the opportunity for cosmetic surgeons and medical professionals to pass on knowledge and information about the latest procedures and techniques and for those considering undergoing procedures to increase their knowledge before making a decision. Social media is a two-way communication between the target audience and the cosmetic surgery provider as it also allows for customer feedback. It does mean, however, that cosmetic surgery providers need to be honest about both the benefits and risks.
Cosmetic surgery companies can use their Twitter feed or Facebook page to educate and encourage users to ask questions, respond promptly and honestly to any queries, post videos showing a typical consultation or share ‘myth-busting’ facts to give people a better indication of what is really involved in specific procedures.
Elise Bevan, a senior associate in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches, said: “Social media will play an increasingly significant role in promoting this industry and is likely to encourage more people to turn to cosmetic surgery to improve and maintain their appearance. Facebook and Twitter are increasingly being used by practices looking to form a stronger bond with current and prospective patients in an attempt to create online communities based around cosmetic surgery. Social media is great for storytelling and allowing cosmetic surgery providers to promote their brand.
“Social media should not, however, just be used to highlight good news. If a customer raises a concern on a blog feed, then the surgeon or clinic must answer their query truthfully. During the PIP breast implant scandal, many clinics removed their social platforms to avoid association with the issue. The key reason why a cosmetic surgery provider uses social media is to generate interest, so avoid providers who only use their social media as a promotional advertising medium. Although there are some very good clinics which offer Q&A sessions with experts and post educational videos online, others engage in socially irresponsible and dangerous marketing practices that can exploit the vulnerable customer. Providing there is complete transparency and it does not normalise the idea of undergoing invasive surgery to address appearance dissatisfaction, social media can be an effective tool for both cosmetic surgery providers and customers alike.”