Twitter is clearly the favored communication method of president-elect Donald Trump, and this social media channel also holds some important merits for plastic surgeons – as long as their tweets contain evidence-based information and use the hashtag #plasticsurgery.

This is the main take-away from a study in the December issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®.

“Twitter provides a great opportunity to engage with and educate patients and the public about plastic surgery,” writes study author Olivier Alexandre Branford, MA, MBBS, PhD, MRCS, FRCS, a plastic surgeon at the Royal Marsden Hospital, London. “But all too often, the conversation is dominated by celebrity gossip and marketing by practitioners who aren’t Board-certified plastic surgeons.”

The researchers analyzed the sources and types of information about plastic surgery on Twitter. Of nearly 2,900 tweets including the words “plastic surgery,” about 70 percent were posted by consumers. Just six percent of plastic surgery tweets were made by plastic surgeons.

A large majority of the Twitter posts were about either celebrity plastic surgery (50 percent) or aesthetic surgery (44 percent), the study showed. Too few provided information about the basic science of plastic surgery, patient safety issues, or topics related to reconstructive surgery, the study authors point out.

More than 60 percent of tweets by plastic surgeons also mentioned aesthetic surgery, while 7.5 percent mentioned celebrity plastic surgery. Posts by plastic surgeons were more likely to mention basic science. Non-celebrity and non-aesthetic tweets will help boost the credibility of plastic surgery as a medical specialty and serve to educate and inform the public about the benefits and risks of plastic surgery procedures.

Several tweets by plastic surgeons mentioned scientific articles, although only a few included a link to the journal where the article was published. Adding the link within the tweet or tagging the source adds credibility and also encourages engagement. It’s about starting a conversation, and this is a great way to draw others in.

Tweets have a 140-character limit, but as of a few months ago, media attachments and quoted tweets don’t count as part of this total. Even though tweets are short – they still need to be sweet, succinct and devoid of typos. Proof them before hitting “Tweet.”

Social media is about engagement and relationship building, overly self promotional posts tend to fly in the face of these goals. Following these Twitter rules can help promote and build your brand on this ever-popular social media channel.

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