Background: Facebook is the leading online media platform used by plastic surgeons. This study examined Facebook use among plastic surgeons and its perceived impact.
Methods: A survey on Facebook use was distributed to two groups of plastic surgeons: 500 with professional Facebook pages and 500 without Facebook pages. Responses were stripped of identifying information and analyzed for statistical significance (p < 0.05).
Results: One hundred twenty-three total surveys were completed (12.3 percent response rate). No respondents with Facebook reported a negative impact on their practice, whereas 57 percent reported a very positive or positive impact. There was no correlation with perceived impact and number of "likes." Perceived advantages of Facebook included facilitation of patient feedback/communication (77 percent) and increased practice exposure (67 percent). Many surgeons (15 to 36 percent) did not follow the direct impact of Facebook on their practices. Some reported that Facebook was responsible for only one to 50 professional Web site hits and less than 5 percent of their new patient referrals in the past year. Estimated conversion-to-surgery rates were highly variable for Facebook users and nonusers. Most Facebook nonusers (67 percent) expected a "neutral" impact, expressing more concerns about unsolicited advertising (51 percent) and wasting time (47 percent).
Conclusions: Plastic surgeons tend to perceive Facebook's impact on their practices as positive, but most do not track its direct effects on professional Web site hits, new referrals, or conversion-to-surgery rates. Plastic surgeons using Facebook are encouraged to monitor these parameters to determine whether its continued use is actually worthwhile.