influencer marketing

Influencer marketing for surgeons

I get it. Until now the daily reality of your practice, and the world of influencers, could not be further apart in your mind. Bear with me. In this article, we unpack tactics to gain more influence as a specialist doctor or surgeon, so more GP referrals come your way.

influencer marketing

Influencer marketing for surgeons

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice

Kris Borgraeve

September 20, 2022

The way to stand out as a surgeon

marketing as a surgeon

Beyond the buzzword influencer, there is a reality we can’t escape. Cutting through the noise can make a difference for you as a doctor. When I talk about that noise, I mean the online content that covers your specialty area. 

Marketing as a surgeon is about standing out and yet, that is often misunderstood when surgeons have not looked into the mechanics of contemporary medical marketing.

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-founder Digital Practice

"Standing out is not about shouting harder. It’s not about adding more credentials. It’s not about following a set of bullet point tips to get more referrals. It’s about bringing in more you."

When I work together with a surgeon or specialist. The starting point is always a discovery process to find out what patients value. Then we tease out the aspects of your service that are a good match. 

Let’s go over some live case studies of powerful influential medical marketing campaigns.

Applying influencer marketing to your practice

becoming a medical influencer

Big agencies will call real influencers and work with them. People with an abundance of followers who perform on TikTok, Instagram. Facebook or YouTube, or all of the above. 

Influencer marketing for a surgical practice would not go down that path for obvious reasons. But you can apply some of the influencer marketing to your own communication style without radically changing the way you communicate.

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-founder Digital Practice

"The strategic work is critical when you start building authority as an influential doctor. With unclear goals, you will get unclear communication and you will probably give up at some point."

What can you do to invest in clarity? When we do our strategy sessions with doctors in private practice, we look at the various reasons to look into medical marketing:

  • You want more patients: Let’s face it, a private practice is a business and other than serving your purpose of helping people improve their health, you want your practice to run at capacity.
  • You want to pre-qualify: Within your specialty area, you may want to subspecialise. Do more of a specific type of work and less of another type. There is nothing wrong with that and it is yet another area to develop the capacity to influence both your referral stream and the individual patient enquiries you attract.
  • You want more status and leadership: We all know that a thought leadership profile attracts and supports opportunities, partnerships, hospital accreditations, GP referrals and access to quality staff and team members. Read more on how to build authority as a surgeon.

Next, let’s look at the actual process of influencing in the context of attracting GP referrals and patient enquiries.

The logic of influencing as a doctor

reputation and influence

When we look at reputation and influence, they tend to be fluffy topics for many scientifically trained professionals. 

Reputation and influence can be seen as logical aspects of your career. If you do need a logical definition: It’s your capacity to make online content create awareness, start conversations, stimulate the willingness to choose you over another surgeon or specialist.

We know that real influencers give us the impression they just press the record button on TikTok, Instagram or YouTube and talk about random topics.

Reputation and influence marketing as a doctor needs a tighter focus, as you will appreciate. We have Advertising Guidelines for Healthcare Professionals, and an ethical responsibility that by far exceeds the one of an influencer discussing the latest smartphone app.


Here is a typical roadmap we use when we design influencer marketing for doctors:

  • Identify the area of your thought leadership. Be as specific as possible, and do not just choose ‘orthopaedics’ or ‘weight loss surgery’. Ideally, you can segment a sub-section of the services that is big enough to build a reputation. Find out how we can help.
  • Work with a medical marketing specialist to map the storyline of your content. It often means you focus on offering value outside the direct conversation about offering the service. For example, as a bariatric surgeon you could talk about diet, not just in the context of preparing for surgery or recovering after bariatric surgery.
  • Choose your platform. Find out where your target audience lives. If they are GPs, publish articles on LinkedIn and comment on other people’s posts. If you target patients and consumers, build a strategy for Instagram or Facebook depending on their age brackets and demographics.
influencer marketing

You will notice that the die-hard influencer doesn’t even realise that they are focusing on video marketing. But in case you do not have a habit of staring down the barrel of any type of lenses, let alone your selfie camera lens, picture this.

Video content is by far the most effective format to convey information online and bearing in mind that people have been watching television as their preferred format for decades rather than going through PowerPoint presentations at night…it makes sense that you can resist video for another decade, but it will not go away.

The search for hashtags

hashtag marketing

Hashtag marketing, or the use of hashtags to make your content more visible, can be applied to many of the big social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and LinkedIn.
Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-founder Digital Practice

"A hashtag labels your post so it can show up in the feed of anyone who has decided to follow all posts about this topic. It helps you fast track the delivery of your post to the audience who has already expressed an interest in the topic you have chosen"

It seems like such an obvious thing to do. Finding the hashtags in medical marketing that are relevant to your niche. They are particularly relevant if you focus your online strategy on referrers because those would be the first people to follow a hashtag. Let’s say you are a gynaecologist and you have done your research. On various platforms, you detected that tens of thousands of people are following #endometriosisresearch or #endometriosistreatment. Statistically, you can assume that general practitioners in your backyard will be among these followers and that might be a good reason to use that hashtag in some of your posts. 

It’s one of those areas where you can work smart and look at the hashtags your competitors are using, following or associating themselves with.

As a podiatrist or a knee surgeon, you can provide advice about running habits and link that to the hashtag of the big running event in your city that is announced in a few weeks’ time. Influence is a game for creative thinkers and once you start getting the hang of it, you will not be able to unlearn this amazing new skill!

The best way is the strategic way

content marketing plan

Before surgeons or practice managers have gone through one of our webinars or workshops, I often see a tendency to get carried away by one tactic. Someone has done an Instagram course and gets obsessed by IGTV. A Google Ads promo team called reception and the practice strategy is now focusing on Google Ads. 

My two cents? Zoom out. Invest in strategic work.

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-founder Digital Practice

"A content marketing plan is not an excuse to get all theoretical about your marketing. You want it to be hands-on and to the point. But you need market research, clear business goals, a brand positioning, content storylines and a brand styleguide before you even start the actual work that will turn you into an influencer-doctor. Skipping this part is a recipe for procrastination, disappointment and sometimes disaster."

Over the years, I have seen surgeons in private practice skyrocket after they implemented a solid content marketing plan with quarterly or monthly follow-up and fresh content. 

I have seen others get cold feet and postpone this work and silently suffer from yet another year with disappointing patient numbers, a status quo in the overall mechanics of their private practice and a feeling that others are bypassing them with their own contemporary online reputation. Where do you want to be? Do you agree that there is reason to explore the strategic way before you decide to become an influencer overnight?

Let's meet

Reputation and results

medical influencer marketing

Medical influencer marketing is not about dancing on TikTok. It’s about clarifying your unique messages, identifying your target audience and delivering consistent and ongoing value on the most effective platform that is used by your audience. We can help you with that so you stop wasting energy and time. Why not start with a free 1:1 Strategy Session to look at the influencer potential of your private practice? 

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