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Dr. Rod Rohrich is an internationally known board-certified plastic surgeon practicing at the Dallas Plastic Surgery Institute in Texas. He is also a professor of plastic surgery at Baylor College of Medicine and past professor chair of the Department of Plastic Surgery at UT Southwest. Dr. Rohrich been honored by his peers with numerous awards in plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery in the U.S. and abroad and is the author of numerous academic papers and publications, is involved in many philanthropic endeavors. Importantly, he has built a thriving presence on social media. 

The following is edited from a transcript of Dr. Rohrich’s recent YoungMD Connect webinar on the power and importance of using social media as a practitioner and an educator, and includes questions from the YoungMD Connect members. 

Why is social media an essential component of the toolkit of a modern practitioner?

Dr. Rohrich: Social media has become the modern way to communicate with your patients and colleagues, and it is so important that you learn how to do it. Social media is your beacon and platform to become known, and your social media presence represents who you are. That’s why you can’t hand it off to anyone else. 

You are on social media not to impress others, but to impact them. Every time you do a post, you should impact your patients. 

Which social media network do you think is the largest today?

Facebook is still number one, but of course Instagram is owned by Facebook. Facebook also owns WhatsApp and Messenger. Numbers two and three are YouTube and Google, but Google owns YouTube. Personally, I would start on Instagram because it’s the most user-friendly, and where the younger users are. You can put an Instagram post on Facebook to catch those 40 and over.

What opportunities has social media opened up for you and how has it changed your practice?

It gives you a global audience. We saw that in COVID when we could no longer meet face-to-face. Guess what? We did Zoom, we did Instagram. When I would be a visiting professor, let’s just say in New York you were lucky to have a hundred people there. Now, you could have 10,000 people listening to you. Social media does the same thing. It allows you to take your audience to a global level, which is very powerful. Why do you think meetings are dying? Because people don’t want to spend the time and energy to go when they can get it online. As a physician, that’s important, and if you’re looking to enhance your practice, that’s powerful. 

How do you come up with content to post daily? 

I look at my top three goals every day. I write them down at the night before I go to sleep. The next morning, I refresh them and make sure they’re the three things I want do. I usually do most of my social media work at about five in the morning because I operate every day of the week. Social media has to work into your day. If you are a resident, you should be very general, you can name patients, but you can post about who you are and what you do, and what it’s like to be a resident or fellow. If you are starting in a practice, what is that like? It’s very simple to start, just start slowly, and then it will grow.

How do you avoid pitfalls or traps in social media? 

The biggest pitfall to avoid: Don’t show anything graphic. People don’t like that. Early on, we used to show surgery intermittently, but graphic images usually don’t do well. That said, videos get 10 times the views of static photos. So, if you are in practice and can show videos of patients, that is powerful because videos are harder to alter than photos. Sadly, data show that 50% to 70% of any internet photos are altered or morphed. With videos, people can see what patients look like at one week, two weeks, and three months, after a procedure. 

If you have a personal social media account, should you start from scratch with a professional account? 

My social media account is business, professional, and education. I don’t have a personal Instagram account. It depends on how personal you want to be. I would keep separate accounts, but include some personal aspects to show your personality, such as activities at a meeting you attended. But I would keep family separate; that is usually for Facebook. I have occasionally posted pictures of my family, but generally don’t mix. 

Where do you draw the line on communicating with patients or potential patients via social media with direct messaging? 

I get a lot of direct messages, and I have an automatic DM response message saying “great to hear from you, please email me at . . .” and they go right to my email, which goes to my staff, and then it is on the record. Usually, they are asking for appointments. I don’t answer direct messages from anyone unless I know them. I think it’s a good professional policy. Even if they are already my patients, I have them email me or text me. First of all, I give every one of my patients my email. I give them my text; I give them my cell. I think you should clear that because otherwise it gets very messy. 

Since you have so many followers, do you find yourself spending too much time with social media? Where do you draw off the line with that?

You have to draw the line somewhere and stick to it.  I just say enough’s enough after a certain hour at night. You can’t let it consume you. There’s more to life than your phone and social media. You have to really, really be careful and set times when you’ll be on it, when you won’t.

What other advice do you have for getting started and planning ahead for social media in your professional life? 

Consider YouTube. YouTube is probably the hardest modality to really get going, but it’s probably one of the most SEO-ed because Google owns YouTube, so more people are likely to land on it; google searches will favor YouTube over Facebook, that is just a reality. 

I would start a YouTube channel soon, even if you are young just starting, it will be indexed early. It is kind of like having a website. That said, you should also have a website, or if you aren’t ready to start one now, buy all the names related to your name, whether it is dot org, dot net, dot com, and buy variations of it, like,, they are about 10 dollars each and they are good for 5 or 10 years. Once you get your name identified, then it’s yours, and website is the landing page for social media. You don’t need something fancy. You need something that’s easy to use, mobile compliant and can come up easily with a search.

What should you do about online reviews? 

Somebody else’s opinion of you is none of your business. The most important opinion is the opinion you have of yourself. Just remember that. Block the haters and believe in yourself. The more you talk about things, whether they’re even benign or things people will hate, haters will always hate. That’s just part of life. Don’t worry about it. In general, especially when you start on social media, just post things that are educational. I would not go out on a limb and do something crazy, especially with our country as divided as it is today on so many things. That said, being a physician giving people great advice is fine. 

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