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    How to assume a cameo role via YouTube

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    BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF., plastic surgeon Stuart A. Linder, M.D., connects with viewers as he sits comfortably in his office chair and talks candidly about his credentials and cosmetic surgery on YouTube. His patients offer testimonials about their experiences under his care, and people from around the globe comment on what they have seen and what they know. More than 17,000 people had viewed one of Dr. Linder's videos (he has several posted) as of February 2009.

    Dr. Linder, author of the Beverly Hills Shape, the Truth about Plastic Surgery, uses social networking sites and the Web, in general, to his advantage. It's not all, but rather part, of the self-promotion package, he says.

    The role that social media sites, such as YouTube, play in the big marketing and communicating picture is undeniable, says Wendy Lewis, president, Wendy Lewis & Co Ltd., Global Aesthetics Consultancy.

    "Nearly a decade ago, I can remember talking to groups of plastic surgeons about why they needed to have a Web site, and getting push back. Fast forward a few years, and I can recall trying to explain that the premise 'if you build it, they will come,' does not apply to the Internet. Just having a Web site is the tip of the iceberg. You need to have a Web site that is fully optimized so people can find you. Search engine optimization and Google ad words are a requirement today. But you also need to spread the word by taking advantage of free portals where consumers congregate," Ms. Lewis says.

    YouTube, the world's most popular online video community, is a good place to start.

    "...Every single cosmetic surgeon should, at some level, consider YouTube to explain the processes, the research...and back it up with credibility on YouTube because lots of people do not like reading text," says Tom Smith, who created http://Everythingability.com/. Mr. Smith is a U.K.-based consultant in usability, persuasive design and online branding.

    SO EASY, A KID CAN DO IT In its rawest form, posting on YouTube is as simple as saying what you want to say in front of a Web cam and uploading it to the site. (For those who are game enough to try it themselves, YouTube has an excellent tutorial and clear directions at http://www.youtube.com/). Online video novices might find that the best teachers are right under their roofs, notes Ms. Lewis.

    "So many doctors are asking, 'How do I get on YouTube?' I tell them to ask their kids. My teenage daughter is my best source of information about viral marketing," says Ms. Lewis.

    However, it's critical to pay attention to your online strategy before posting your videos, according to Mr. Smith. He recommends that cosmetic surgeons address common patient concerns and issues, as well as timely news and research using popular terms. Having information that consumers want increases the chances that people will find your videos when they post questions or use key words on YouTube or on search sites, such as Google. Doctors can also direct would-be patients to view their videos by promoting the videos in advertising and other collateral.

    EDUCATE, EDUCATE, EDUCATE Dr. Linder says posting videos helps to promote his practice to a broad audience. His approach when posting videos on YouTube is to offer educational information in a documentary format.

    "The videos are kept ethical and very entertaining; they are interesting. I want to do videos that show credibility to the practice. And at the same time people are learning something. And that is it," he says.

    Mr. Smith says that one of the great things about YouTube and similar sites is that it is not all about who has the slickest, most expensive production.

    "It does not have to be a television-quality broadcast...it has to be really convincing video. For instance, if you are a cosmetic surgeon who has hundreds of happy customers and you find a way to encourage them to post their videos saying why they are happy, that is so much more convincing than the slickest video," Mr. Smith advises.

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    Lisette Hilton
    Lisette Hilton is a writer in Boca Raton, Fla., who heads up her company, Words Come Alive.

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