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John Jesitus is a medical writer based in Westminster, CO.
Dr. Gregory Buford believes success on social media means cutting through the clutter by combining key personality traits and posting the right mix.
With very low entry costs and instant worldwide reach, social media has largely replaced print and TV marketing. On the downside, however, the lack of peer review allows people to "game" online media by publicizing products or treatments that lack evidence and, ultimately, consumers suffer.
That’s according to Gregory A. Buford, M.D. who presented “The Dark Side of Social Media: Where We Are Heading and What Should Be Done,” at this summer’s Cosmetic Bootcamp in Aspen, Colo.
"They're so surrounded by all this information. They don't know what's real or unreal. They can get pulled into this cult of personality and fooled," says Dr. Buford.
And, according to the Denver-based plastic surgeon, battling the unscrupulous underbelly of social media requires educating patients and calling out posers.
Dr. Buford divides the social-media jungle into a handful of archetypal personalities:
To understand where social media is heading, he suggests reading The Death of Expertise: The Campaign against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters by Tom Nichols. "You have the anti-vaxers arguing with you online, even though you went to medical school or nursing school and know 100,000 times more than they do."
Cutting Through the Clutter
To cut through social media clutter, he recommends combining the credibility of the expert with the eye candy of an authority. An expert has verifiable credentials, peer recognition and a client-centric online presence, says Dr. Buford, but often a small following. "It's like having a Picasso in the basement."
Conversely, self-appointed healthcare gurus often have huge, but not well-educated, followings. "If you look at who follows them, it's not other medical professionals - it's bots and consumers." Melding the best of the expert and authority personas allows one's online presence to strike a happy medium, says Dr. Buford.
He also recommends educating patients about what to look for online. "Tell them just because someone makes a claim doesn't necessarily make it true."
Dr. Buford has been a consultant for Revance, a speaker/consultant for Evolus and Thermi Aesthetics, a speaker/consultant and Master Facial Injectables Trainer for Allergan, an advisory board member for MEND Nutrition, and an advisor/investor for Fruit Street and Monj.
Buford, G. "The Dark Side of Social Media: Where We Are Heading and What Should Be Done," The Cosmetic Bootcamp. June 23, 2019.