Social media has become a powerful tool for healthcare providers, but for many, it can feel daunting, especially for practitioners who were trained to avoid self-disclosure and who received minimal (if any) training in digital marketing. In a social media world saturated with influencers, how can these credentialed wellness experts stand out and attract their ideal patients and, if it aligns with their brand, media opportunities?
A board-certified dermatologist and double-fellowship trained cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Sheila Farhang (also known as “Dr. Sheila”), has positioned herself as a relatable, millennial skincare expert with expertise in both integrative skincare and cutting-edge procedures. A popular influencer, she gives her followers an inside look at her life. In addition, she is founder of Avant Dermatology & Aesthetics and co-founder of start-up health tech company, Vispera. She has also worked as a clinical researcher and formulation scientist with biotech startup UVera. Dr. Sheila is also faculty for an Integrative Dermatology program. Perhaps you’ve seen her give anti-aging and skincare advice on shows like Dr. Oz and The Real.
Social media has been a big part of how Dr. Sheila has grown her network, attracted opportunities, and built an engaged community. Here are some social media best practices she recommends to healthcare providers.
Make One Platform Your Primary
While it’s smart to have a presence on multiple platforms, focusing most of your energy on the one where your target audience or ideal clients spend time can help you grow and avoid burnout. On Instagram, her primary channel, Dr. Sheila shares skincare information, career advice, and a look at the life of a dermatologist. She says, “I love where social media has gone over the past few years. Not only for building a community, but for providing access to skincare tips [and other resources] to people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to get them.” Keep in mind that some types of content work better on certain platforms, so if you are on multiple platforms, tweak your posts slightly to suit the needs of that particular audience.
Cultivate A Healthy Relationship With Social Media
Consistency is key for growing your social media, but you also have to know when to take a step back and make sure that it isn’t taking over your life. If frequently putting out detailed posts feels too overwhelming, utilize some of the more approachable tools available. “I have a very healthy relationship with my social media. If I’m busy or have a lot going on in my personal or work life, I don’t post as often. I will do Instagram stories, but I appreciate having this relationship of not always needing to post every week at a certain time. I post when I feel really inspired.”
Prioritize Connection With Your Audience
It’s normal if your content evolves over the years along with the needs and interests of your clients, patients and audience. For Dr. Sheila, “In the beginning it was just skincare tips and things like that. Now, I’ve really started to see what people resonate with, which is really important.” Paying attention to your analytics allows you to get a sense of what people really like and gives feedback into what you do really well. You can use that insight to help you be intentional about how you present yourself and what information you share on social media. And don’t be afraid to infuse your personality into your posts. “Even if it’s for a business, it’s always better to have a little personal touch—not necessarily personal information, but to be personable.”
When it comes to engagement, says Dr. Sheila, “you have to be invested in it. I comment back, and it takes time, but it’s really that factor that helps build that community. Again, be consistent.”
Many practitioners may wish to outsource social media to save time and energy, but anticipate the potential downsides, says Dr. Sheila. If your online community doesn’t grow, maybe it’s “because that personable factor is not there, that connection.” Find ways to add a personal touch, and if you do work with a marketing team, be part of the planning process and check in about what’s working and what’s not.
Don’t Get Sucked Into Perfectionism
While consistency is also important when it comes to aesthetic, Dr. Sheila says, avoid getting sucked into thinking it has to be absolutely perfect. “You don’t have to have super-professional photos. Although I have a few, most of mine are taken by my husband on our iPhones. You do want a good-looking feed because that draws people in, but just have fun with it.” She adds, “Finding your purpose is really important. You don’t necessarily need to be really different from everybody else, but what are you really good at and what are you passionate about?” When growth feels slow, reconnect to that purpose and “trust the process.”