Capitalizing on Social Media Algorithms: An Evaluation of the Public's Preferences on Plastic Surgery Social Media Content
Eric Shiah, BA, Abra H. Shen, SB, Elizabeth Laikhter, BA, Samuel M. Manstein, MD, Carly D. Comer, MD, Samuel J. Lin, MD, MBA
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
Background: The effectiveness of utilizing social media platforms to promote clinical practices and attract patients has been well established. As a next step, this study aimed to assess what plastic surgery social media content and educational material the public is most responsive to in order to provide future guidance for plastic surgeons seeking to enhance their social media presence.
Methods: Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (mTurk) crowdsourcing service and REDCap’s survey manager were used to recruit survey participants. An anonymous 25-question survey was distributed to ascertain demographic information, patterns of social media use, levels of interest in plastic surgery, and preferences for plastic surgery content.
Results: Of 401 total participants, the typical respondent was between 25 and 34 years old, with a Bachelor’s degree, earning an annual income between $50,000 to $99,999, and on social media daily. Almost half of respondents (46.1%) have intentionally viewed plastic surgery content on social media, of which most used Instagram (71.1%) and Facebook (55.4%). Although females were 1.96 times more likely than males to have viewed plastic surgery content (95% CI 1.31-2.92, p = 0.001), participants grouped as either younger or older than 35 years old were equally likely to have viewed plastic surgery content (p = 0.33). On a 5-point Likert scale (1 dislike, 5 very interested), categories with the highest interest were before and after results (mean Likert weight 4.00±1.10), patient testimonials (3.73±1.15), and recovery process (3.67±1.14). Celebrity plastic surgery (2.89±1.17), comedic videos (2.79±1.19), and content about surgeons’ private lives (2.51±1.08) had negative interest. Overall, photo posts (51.4%) were most preferred, followed by video (27.2%) posts, links to external content (12.5%), and text-only posts (9.0%). However, participants younger than 35 years old were 1.95 times more likely to have preferred video posts than those aged 35 years or older (95% CI 1.22-3.13, p = 0.005). When asked what aspect of a social media account plays the most influential role in selecting a plastic surgeon, the majority selected before and after results (45.9%), followed by links to reviews (16.2%), number of posts and followers (14.2%), and links to professional practice websites (12.7%).
Conclusions: The relevance and importance of social media for plastic surgeons today to be able to interact with patients are at unprecedented highs. Understanding patterns of the public’s plastic surgery social media content preferences will help plastic surgeons optimize their social media reach and influence on their target audience.
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