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Social Media Lessons From A Plastic Surgeon

As a marketing consultant in my eighth year I’ve had the chance to learn a lot of things I never expected to learn. None of my clients, however, have taught me more stuff I never thought I’d learn than Dr. David Reath and his wife Lisa. Dr. Reath is a plastic surgeon in Knoxville, Tennessee and he’s one of the best in the country. That’s not hyperbole either. Dr. Reath literally has patients fly in from all over the world to meet him and he has the professional accolades to prove it too. He’s that good.

The Not So Secret Weapon
As skilled as Dr. Reath is at his craft, Lisa is equally so with her marketing mind and business savvy. She is the marketing and strategy brains to compliment his medical braun. Four years ago I met Lisa at an event in Knoxville and she was eager to talk about how the practice could use social media. She was determined to find the narrow path between HIPAA regulations and patient confidentiality that could take advantage of the possibilities for social media. She had the vision to see that if the path could be found, there would be a way to grow the practice by earning people’s trust and gaining their loyalty.

Winning In A Regulated Industry
Now, four years later, Lisa and Dr. Reath are regularly asked to give presentations and join panel discussions for plastic surgeons telling them how they did it. The social media arsenal for Dr. Reath is divided into content and conversation platforms. They have a blog, YouTube channel and a series of award winning e-books on the content side. On the conversation side, Facebook is the dominant platform and Twitter is secondary.

Over the last four years they have built an incredible social media resume that has paid off in brand recognition and revenue:

  • 9,500 Facebook fans
  • 195 YouTube videos with 93,000 cumulative views
  • 1,200 Twitter followers
  • Hundreds of blog posts
  • Multiple e-books that directly generate business

5 Takeaways For Any Business
There are many things a business can glean from the Dr. Reath’s social media success but here are five things they did particularly well in an industry that’s probably more complicated and regulated than yours:

1. They were patient enough to work hard and let the results happen slowly knowing it would grow and pay off over time.

2. They were bold enough to find the open spaces to do what they wanted in a regulated industry. Most people in a regulated industry see the barriers and decide it’s not worth the effort. Dr. Reath and Lisa focused on the opportunity.

3. They were willing to fail since there were no other plastic surgeons to model. Sure, there were some others on Facebook or providing the occasional video, but none were looking at social media as an attention earning platform.

4. They were generous with information that answered questions people had for them. They used their social media platforms to be helpful to both current patients and potential patients which, in turn, earned loads of attention for Dr. Reath’s practice and got people talking about him to their friends too.

5. They were diversified and committed in their social media efforts. They came out of the gate with a great mix of content and conversation. They carved out time to shoot a video every week, they wrote a lot of excellent content and also engaged anyone on Facebook who had a question.

The next time you think about the complications in your social media efforts, consider what Dr. Reath and Lisa have been able to do. If you look hard enough at your situation you’ll almost always find an opportunity in the open spaces. It’s in those places you can really begin to separate yourself from everyone else.

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  • David B. Reath, MD

    Bill,
    Thanks for your wonderful comments in your blog. This has been an interesting and fulfilling journey which continues. Your advice and ideas has been critical to whatever success we may have achieved.
    But you are really right about Lisa. She is an exceptional talent in this arena. As I tell people, she’s the brain of the operation; I’m just the good looks!
    David B.

    • http://www.microexplosion.com Bill Seaver

      Dr. Reath, you’ve created an environment that allows creativity and new ideas to thrive. There’s a lot of great leadership to be learned there and it’s certainly part of the key to your success in my view.

  • http://www.theriverstonegroup.com John Kramp

    Bill, this is a great post. It encouraged me to see how David and his wife moved into the tricky work of building an appropriate platform for his profession. Often, it’s hard to find the “whitespace” between what is possible and what is deemed out of bounds (legally or by others in a profession). They found this space and helped many people as a result. In the process, they created a great case study for the rest of us. Thanks for sharing.

    • http://www.microexplosion.com Bill Seaver

      You bet. Thanks for the comment John. And yes, they found a great opening in the gap because they weren’t fearful. A very good case study indeed!