Plastic surgeons are the new rock stars.
All over Instagram, plastic surgeons are posting viral videos of themselves performing plastic surgery procedures on patients and getting hundreds of thousands of views. It's like the new porn: Millennials want to live vicariously through celebrities, and now they can take that vicarious living into the operation room.
But beyond the shock factor, this new trend has some key takeaways for entrepreneurs and business owners.
The Doctor Is In
Rising stars of the new trend like Dr. Christopher Khorsandi, a.k.a. @DocVegas, have amassed hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram and are skillfully using social media to promote their own businesses and the plastic surgery industry as a whole.
And it's working.
Once a fringe procedure, cosmetic surgery is quickly losing its taboo. Millennials are leading the charge, watching and engaging with the videos on Instagram and booking procedures for themselves.
It's a savvy strategy on the part of the doctors. Part of the taboo around plastic surgery came from the fact that most people just didn't know much about it - and the idea of having a surgeon make changes to your appearance through a procedure you don't understand is a pretty frightening one.
By crafting short, shareable, viral-ready videos of real procedures, plastic surgeons like Khorsandi can bring potential customers into the operating room and show them the reality of a cosmetic procedure. All the while, they build a brand and connect with a new generation through a high-engagement medium.
But they aren't doing it alone.
A New Face for Marketing Plastic Surgery
Digital marketing agencies have popped up to specifically serve the plastic surgery niche. Companies like Burger Media, which represents Doc Vegas, are helping plastic surgeons perfect their social strategy and use Instagram to build a brand and acquire new customers.
"Business development and customer acquisition is changing right now, and increasingly, what would have been done over the phone or online in years past is happening on Instagram," says Cal Marshall, founder of Burger Media. "Companies that recognize this and are ready to capture business through social media have a huge advantage."
Marshall is strategic in the work he does with surgeons. In addition to Khorsandi, he represents several other plastic surgeons across the US, and he strives to create a unique persona for each through social media content - but he stresses the importance of authenticity.
"One of the limiting factors for these surgeons is that a lot of them are over 40. So it's hard to build a voice that connects with a younger audience, but still feels genuine," he explains.
"Outside of video documenting the actual procedures, we spend a lot of time creating engagement posts that are focused on the doctor's personal brand. It builds trust with clients."
The DocVegas Instagram profile showcases this. Take a look at this post:
It has nothing to do with plastic surgery. But it builds Vegas's brand and makes him appear more relatable, which is critical in an industry where patients have to put absolute faith in their service providers.
Social Media Is the New Marketplace
But perhaps the most important thing to note from this trend is how these doctors are using social media to drive business, not just likes. Take this interaction in a comment thread on a plastic surgery procedure:
The post explains the procedure in detail, and DocVegas answers questions from followers in the comments. He's using his Instagram profile to educate, engage, and convert future customers.
Entrepreneurs, take notice.
As Millennials grow in age and buying power, social media will become ever more important to commerce. Regardless of your industry, the way people buy things is changing - and increasingly, you'll find customers in the comments section of your social media posts.
This trend shows us that customers don't want to have to look something up on your website. If they have a question when looking at your social media content, they want to ask it then and there - and they want an answer. Providing that answer in a timely manner could be the difference between converting a new customer and missing out on business.
The businesses that succeed will be those willing to put this at the core of their strategy early on. As we move forward, your website may be one of the least important channels for customer acquisition.
If you want to find your future customers, it might be time to check your DMs.