Navigating Your Career

Best Practices for Developing Your Social Media Brand

Social media has taken dermatology—like much of medicine—to a new level of connectedness with patients and the community. And with it, there are many new strategies to uncover to better understand how to build your brand. Here, we will review some of the lessons shared by Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali during his Skin of Color Update conference workshop on how to build your social media presence.

A Bit About Branding

Dr. Bhanusali, as you may already know, has built an empire of sorts in his practice of dermatology. Still, he humbly seems to attribute this success to one key factor—letting his patients get to know him as a person without fear or hesitation. However, Dr. Bhanusali pointed out that his brand has stark differences in perception and reality, making perception key.

As Dr. Bhanusali pointed out, sometimes we focus too much on what we think others want to see. Dr. Bhanusali shared examples of posts with celebrity friends and events and noted that these posts have much lower engagement than his educational posts.

Images courtsey of Dhaval Bhanusali, MD

Finding Followers

Instead, Dr. Bhanusali emphasized that we should focus on what people want to see—value. For example, Dr. Bhanusali referenced a couple of his short videos: underrated products at Sephora and shopping at Sephora with a dermatologist, which had 65,626 plays at the time of his presentation. Meanwhile, another reel on “Derm Hacks-How a dermatologist treats a pimple at home” has over 340,000 plays with over 7,200 likes on Instagram and Facebook. Ask yourself, urges Dr. Bhanusali, are you providing value to viewers? Here are some of Dr. Bhanusali’s other video topics that have tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of views:

    • How to improve your skin texture
    • Minimizing puffy eyes
    • Tips for tolerating your retinoid
    • Hair loss tips
    • Products I love
    • Responding to common hair myths

In this way, Dr. Bhanusali urges us, dermatologists, to show people who we truly are. It seems that social media has picked up stories of Dr. Bhanusali treating a slashing victim’s scar or results from his treatment of patients who have been attacked by dogs. For instance, Dr. Bhanusali shared a post about a dog bite victim who discovered him via social media and came in for treatment. That patient is now a first-year medical student and is dedicating her career to those in a similar situation. Here are three quick tips on building your social media brand:

    • Don’t depend on flashy things to gain followers
    • Share your work, as you never know who needs to see it
    • Show your true personality—people want to connect 

Measurable Outcomes in Social Media

At the time of the conference, he reported about 140,000 followers on Instagram and about 170,000 followers on TikTok. For new social media branders, he urges more focus on TikTok. As a result of his increased social media presence, he now has a 1­–­2-year waitlist for new patients. None of his patients anecdotally have asked or complained about prices, and, most importantly, this has created a more personal experience for him and his patients.

And for Dr. Bhanusali, this has involved a significant passion for changing the landscape of dermatology. After all, he has worked to disrupt challenging insurance issues by creating SkinMedicinals, a platform to increase medication access. 

Summary & Key Points

Dr. Bhanusali highlighted some critical points in branding and measuring success on social media. It is crucial to avoid the temptation to be flashy and focus on the real-life dermatology issues our patients face, which is what they often want to see on social media. Focus on your passion, and the followers will come. And finally, Dr. Bhanusali urges us to “just jump in” and not worry about embarrassment. Focus on selling yourself and not on products or procedures. Ultimately, says Dr. Bhanusali, the more people get to know you, the better the experience in the office. And remember, we are educators and should support each other.

 This information was presented by Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali the 2022 Skin of Color Update conference held on September 9-11-2022. The above highlights from her lecture were written and compiled by Dr. Nishad Sathe.

Did you enjoy this article? Find more on social media in dermatology here.