23 Marketing a Cosmetic Breast Surgery Practice through Social Media Outlets
This chapter offers tools to draw an audience through online tools, engage them, and attract them to your practice. Each component of a digital presence builds up the others. Strategy, A/B testing, and understanding your audience can make the difference between engagement or being ignored. The success of your website, social media presence, search engine optimization, and video creation can be measured through analytics. When used well, digital strategies will make a difference in building your cosmetic breast surgery practice.
Getting the word out that you’re an expert in cosmetic breast surgery is important to nourish the growth of your practice. The most effective, efficient, and affordable way to market yourself is online, with social media and through your website. To see results, you need to know what platforms to use, how to maximize the reach of your posts, how to generate new content constantly, how to create good videos, and how to measure the return on investment. Whatever you post, using the best keywords and maximizing the metadata behind your online content will help you get noticed. Enticing people to connect with you online is an art, but if you can find your voice, and if people pay attention to you, you’ll be successful at marketing your cosmetic breast surgery practice. You can pull people into your practice with a podcast, blog, guest blog, videos, eBooks, and social media, and you can push people your way through online ads with AdWords, display ads, search ads, social media ads, email marketing, and webinars. Whatever digital strategy you use, track all your efforts with digital analytics, and then adjust what you do. After that, it’s up to you to deliver what patients are hoping for.
23.2 Leveraging Digital Strategies and Social Media
You may be a highly skilled cosmetic breast surgeon who gets great results, but unless people know who you are, you may not have as many patients as you’d like. A great reputation and word of mouth used to be sufficient to sustain the mature surgeon’s practice, but today, people can confirm their friends’ recommendations by searching for your online reviews and looking for before-and-after photos on your website. Even if you ignore your online presence, people may be talking about you on Yelp, Google Plus, and Facebook, and they might be trolls, angry patients, or unscrupulous competitors. So, if you’ve been sitting on the sideline watching the digital world fly by, it’s time to join the conversation and take control of your online presence.
Traditional media, such as television, radio, and print, can play a role in your marketing efforts, but today most people search the Internet to find out about a procedure, locate a doctor near them, and check that surgeon’s results and reputation. Consequently, when used well, digital media can be the most powerful marketing tool you can use to communicate your qualifications to potential patients. An effective online presence incorporates several platforms to cross-fertilize each other, including your website, your social media presence, and your reviews. Each needs to be strong in order to support the others effectively.
A website has a huge advantage over social media platforms because you own all the content. Everything you post on social media, including all text, images, and videos, belongs to the social media parent company. If a company fails, becomes insignificant, or transforms into a music platform, as MySpace did, all your content goes with it. Your website is your Fort Knox, a home for all your valuable content. Your treasures might include a great bio; information about your practice; your photo gallery; embedded videos; books you’ve written; your social media platforms; your blog; and your media page, which can provide links to articles you’ve authored, TV shows you’ve appeared in, and podcasts you’ve created or participated in.
While social media networks allow personal connection and immediacy, your website allows greater depth and a large array of content. A social media post is like handing out brochures to a crowd. People may grab one as they walk by, and maybe they’ll read it, but once the brochures are gone that day, they’re difficult to find. A website is a like a library where a patient can look at your before-and-after photos, study your bio, and read about your practice week after week. The content will be there until you update it.
When you do update your website, or if you’re starting from scratch, write down why you’re doing so. The website designer is like the architect, but you’re the one who’s going to occupy it, so only you can accurately articulate the purpose (Fig. 23‑1). The more time you devote to developing your website purpose, flow, and design, the more effective it will be.
Next, write down the characteristics of your target audience. As a cosmetic breast surgeon, you’ll obviously be targeting women, but identify other factors, such as ethnicity, level of education, age range, and geographic region. And don’t forget men seeking breast/chest contouring. Although cosmetic breast surgery is largely a procedure performed on women, chest contouring and breast reduction for gynecomastia are growing in popularity, with over 30,000 male breast reductions performed in 2016, a number that had risen nearly 200% in 20 years. 1
Once you’ve established your target audience, design the website for them, not for you. Use a color scheme that will appeal to them, even if it’s not your personal favorite choice. Avoid clutter, make navigation easy, and create logical flow throughout your website. The patient looking at a text description of a breast augmentation should be directed, without having to search, to related videos and to the photo gallery (Fig. 23‑2).
23.3.1 Before-and-After Photos
One of the biggest reasons potential patients visit a plastic surgeon’s website is to view the photo gallery. The best photos feature good lighting and the absence of distractions such as clothing, jewelry, or a busy background. Potential patients are looking for good surgical results, especially in patients who looked like them before surgery and ended up with results that they hope to achieve. Increase the value of your gallery by telling each patient’s story; give the potential new patient a reason to spend more time on your website. Include details, such as the patient’s age, her height and weight, whether she’s a mom, and the difference surgery made in her life. Some surgeons include the breast implant brand name and reference number, but that will be of little interest compared with the patient’s story (Fig. 23‑3). The longer visitors linger over your website, the more likely they’ll become your patients.
Although it is often said in the search engine optimization (SEO) world that “content is king,” if a page is only full of dense information about procedures, visitors are likely to search elsewhere. Limit the amount of text on a page and write at a sixth-grade reading level. Break up the page with eye-grabbing images and use subheadings for a visual break. Write in a simple style with short sentences and cut out unnecessary words. For example, “It is important to remember that you should always look for a board-certified plastic surgeon” should be shortened to: “Choose a board-certified plastic surgeon.” After holding the reader’s attention for a moment, reward her with an image. Be succinct but provide valuable information.
23.3.3 Choosing a Font
Nothing is more frustrating for a website visitor than coming across font that’s difficult to read. Make the font large enough, and use strong contrast, such as black on white. If you choose white on black, make the font size larger than you’d use with black on white. Use common, browser-safe fonts. Browsers can use only those fonts stored on the computer or phone the viewer is using, so unusual fonts will be substituted with common ones. Arial, Times New Roman, and Verdana are examples of browser-safe fonts (Fig. 23‑4).
The shortcut to developing an array of images is to pay for an array of stock photos. That’s a great option when you’re starting out, but off-the-rack photos give themselves away with their sterility, and viewers will spend little time looking at them. To make your website more authentic and a better reflection of you, arrange your own professional photo shoot. Show your office in action. A photo of your reception area with nobody in it gives the impression that you’re not busy. Get some volunteers to stand in as staff and a patient or two, and let the scene come to life. You may be able to find patients willing to participate as models. Your own images can capture the culture of your practice in a way that stock photos can’t (Fig. 23‑5).
23.3.5 Home Page
Eschew long, dramatic, musical introductions on your home page. Your visitors want to see before-and-after images, not a Hollywood movie, so don’t waste their time. They’re coming to your website for a reason, so usher them directly to where they want to go.
While you might think of the home page as the front door through which every visitor enters, online searches often direct visitors to secondary or tertiary pages. Every page can be a landing page, so each should have your logo in the top left corner or top center, and when clicked, it should direct the visitor to the home page. All pages should include your phone number, your clickable social media icons, and a search box for easy navigation. Take a tour of your website as if you were a visitor. If photos and videos take a long time loading, ask your webmaster to reduce the file size. Embedded videos should be well edited and short.
23.3.6 Credentialing the Doctors
Somewhere on the home page, display the logos of the prestigious societies you belong to, the educational institutions where you received your education and training, and the seals of the awards you’ve received. A recognizable logo may make a bigger impression on a website visitor than a five-paragraph biography (Fig. 23‑6).
23.3.7 Social Media Icons
A key component of digital strategy is connectability, so your website should connect to your social media platforms and vice versa. Place the icons in a readily visible area, such as at the top of the page, and show them on every page of your website. The website pages that don’t include before-and-after photos should be sharable on social media. If you have a blog on your website, make sure the featured image appears in social media shares.
23.3.8 Contact Form
Include an easy-to-find, easy-to-fill-out contact form. A contact form without staff support, however, is useless. Your patient coordinator should check online inquiries frequently to convert the curious website visitor into a patient with an appointment.
23.3.9 Media Page
Let people know about scientific articles you’ve written by creating a media page, since potential patients may not otherwise know of your expertise. Include instances in which you’ve been featured in the mainstream media. Your website media page serves as a library for visitors to browse through, while your social media feed serves as a news outlet to broadcast what’s new (Fig. 23‑7).
23.3.10 Extend a Welcome Invitation
If you’re hosting an event or planning a Facebook Live broadcast, create a pop-up announcement for your website. To capture the interested visitor with a burning question about a procedure, consider a live-chat service. Live-chat services typically function after hours to gather a visitor’s specific interest, name, phone number, and email so that your office staff can make contact and set up an appointment.
Go through your website periodically, especially as it gets updated, and solicit feedback from volunteers to search for broken links, confusing navigation, misspellings, and grammatical errors. View your website on different devices, from mobile phones to a 27-inch desktop screen, to make sure it looks good in all dimensions. Around half of website traffic is now through mobile devices. 2 Adaptability across different devices is called responsive web design. To do a quick test, go to a large screen, such as your laptop or desktop computer, and resize your browser window to mimic the screen sizes of smaller devices. On your mobile phone, change from portrait to landscape views, and see how it looks. If your website looks like an image from an orbiting satellite, it’s not responsively designed. Cross-device adaptability is particularly important now that so much of Internet traffic is on mobile phones. 2
Update your content and keep the visual appearance current, crisp, and clean. A good webmaster will help keep your website updated with advances in the user experience. For example, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and machine learning that allows searches by images are folding into the digital landscape.
23.3.12 Search Engine Optimization
No matter what or where you post, think in terms of search engine optimization (SEO). A search engine is the software that combs the World Wide Web for information to fulfill a search, such as Google or DuckDuckGo. Web crawlers, or spiders, are Internet bots that examine different websites seeking authoritative sources to answer an Internet user’s search. The results are indexed and displayed on search engine results pages (SERP). Because the web crawlers are looking for well-used terms in fulfilling searches, they have their feelers out for keywords.
A keyword isn’t limited to a word; it can be a phrase, like “breast augmentation cost.” Imagine what people type into a search bar. Those frequently entered words and phrases are keywords. Use only the keywords that are truly pertinent to your content, since Google doesn’t reward those who game the system.