by Kevin Poirier
Owner and President of East End Marketing, an NYC-based digital marketing agency. Kevin has over a decade of experience as a marketing executive with the majority being in the Dermatology-related space. He is a board member of Dermatology Authority.
Once considered a digital network phenomenon, social media has evolved into a major means of communication. It has become ingrained within everyday personal and professional communications.
Over the last decade, businesses have strategically capitalized on delivering their brand messaging through social media. Those savvy enough to build robust networks of followers with unique and appealing content are now known as “influencers.”
Estimates suggest that the social media market is worth $6.5 billion, with brands allocating more funds than ever before. This year alone, 4.4 million Instagram posts will be tagged as ads and promotions. If you happen to be Kylie Jenner, one post could yield you $1M. Of course, Miss Jenner may be the exception; nevertheless, higher numbers of people offering a lens into their lives with the aim of turning their content into income.
If you are a dermatologist but you also want to be an influencer, the one question you have to ask is how much are you willing to share and how often are you willing to share it?
In my 10-plus years as a marketer in the dermatology industry, I’ve been fortunate to work alongside some of the brightest and most ambitious medical professionals the world has to offer. After leading several marketing organizations and now owning a marketing agency, I have racked up countless discussions with physicians regarding the use of social media in building their brand and driving patient acquisition. I have also had many discussions about what it would take to successfully manage a social media platform, which could potentially lead to achieving influencer status. My response has never changed: “If you have the resources.” These resources primarily extend to time and money. If you have an excess of those two critical elements, you should pass go. The next step, which is where many stumble, is finding your niche. You can have all the time and money in the world, but if your content is not appealing, or even worse has no rhyme, reason, or theme, you may want to stick to injections, fillers, and/or saving people’s lives by way of identifying and removing skin cancer.
I recently connected with a dermatologist that has successfully managed the demanding role of practicing medicine as well as being a micro-influencer. Dr. Adarsh Mudgil is much more than the aforementioned dual talent. He is a practicing dermatologist, dermatopathologist, husband and father of three, an accomplished musician, and an all-around great person. I have known Dr. Mudgil since he was training to become a dermpath. He was very open to sharing his journey and outlook on being a practicing physician while managing his role in social media.
During our interview, Dr. Mudgil shared the following insights:
What inspired you to pursue this venture in media?
Dr Mudgil: I was feeling unfulfilled. I realized I wanted to touch people in a more significant way, in a broader way that I couldn’t necessarily get by simply seeing patients every day.
Did you have a goal when you first started out in media?
Dr Mudgil: In using social media, my goal is to touch as many people as possible and spread positivity.
Were you aware of how involved this process was going to be?
Dr Mudgil: [It has] turned into much more that I originally thought. At times, it’s incredibly overwhelming. I had a TV Show [filmed] yesterday, a podcast coming out this week, [in addition to seeing] hundreds of patients during the week, plus hundreds of slides. [That’s] not to mention my three kids and my marriage.
Can you describe your “ah-ha” moment when it comes to social media?
Dr Mudgil: For [Mudgil Dermatology], one of the things that resonates with people in general are these cyst videos; pimple-popping videos. It was one of our first videos and within the first three days it had [roughly] 35,000 Instagram views. We use those videos to grow our network.
Do you have any advice to an MD looking to tap into social media?
Dr Mudgil: It has to be authentic. Your fingerprint has to be on it. You can’t outsource this [content]. You can outsource the dissemination of the content but the content itself has to be representative of you. Otherwise it is bullsh*t and it’s not going to resonate. The posts that have resonated the most for me are the little posts that have captured who I am. They get the most comments. The other important part is engaging with your audience. There’s not a single comment I do not respond to. I will get [approximately] 50-70 comments on one of my videos, and I will respond to each one of those comments personally. It takes time but it’s a community.”
The process of building a functional media platform for any business is extremely challenging. The space is overly saturated with both professional and amateurs alike, all working toward the same objective of growing their brand and acquiring customers (or followers). There are several basic, yet critical components to the process of social media marketing, such as targeting, messaging, content development, channel distribution, and overall basic management. If any single one of these components are amiss, it would likely result in a failed campaign. Having the understanding, capability, and resources to execute on all fronts is not impossible, but it is extremely involved, to say the least.
For those who want to try but are not 100% committed to executing in fully capacity, I say wholeheartedly, don’t waste your time. Social media is not a marketing channel in which success is found by those who are only fractionally committed. Leading the dual path of being a clinician and a media influencer is truly an “all in” venture.
There are options for physicians seeking to engage in varying degrees of social media. Some are clearly more involved than others. Professional marketing services generally exist and furthermore, thrive due to the level of expertise and time needed in order to successfully execute any form of channel marketing. The procurement and management of quality content alone is a full time job. In today’s social media environment, the needs and expectations of users are dynamic to say the least. These users will expect variations of content, however, will expect you to remain true to your brand, style and messaging. They will expect you to engage when they like, comment and share. You will need to post regularly and across multiple platforms with different content-types such as images, videos, blogs, vlogs, live feeds and so on. You are looking at a minimum of 40 hours per month to complete these tasks. At the end of the day, a premium digital marketing services will charge anywhere from $1500 – $5000 for this level of service. The question you need to ask yourself is solely and specifically around opportunity cost. Alternatively, how many patients can you see and 40hrs and what is the respective earning potential?