Breaking news: At 20 000 + doctors enrolled in his FB group, the founder Dr Letertre is appearing on TV and on his way to becoming national news.
For the first time in my blog-writing history, I had a hard time today getting my blogpost out, because every few minutes, the number I was writing about shifted upward. I'm writing about the latest French social media phenomenon, an open Facebook group called "Doctors are not pigeons". This group was launched October 7, 2012, not by a veterinarian ;-) but by a French plastic surgeon, Dr Letertre, from Nice, France. The name has nothing to do with the famous Finnish angry birds app. Dr Letertre just put a briliant end to his weekend. He astutely recycled the "we are not pigeons" theme that was so successfully used last week by French entrepreneurs to revolt against a potentially 60% tax on sale of start-up shares. The government back-pedaled and Dr Letertre applied a winning formula to his future Facebook group. "Les médecins ne sont pas des pigeons" (the name in French), moved from 3500 people in the early evening to 10 809, a minute ago on Facebook ;)...
Will the group cosmetic surgeon turned FB administrator be able to get his beauty sleep? Nothing guaranteed on that front. I haven't seen anything like it on Facebook in France, since perhaps the H1N1 virus when a couple of hundred thousand people expressed their anger in 2009/10...However, this is quite different. It's a professional group...physicians complaining about the growing restrictions on their ability to function on the economic front.
In theory, this is not a topic that the average French person should support, because they know that there is a limit to insurance company reimbursement and the higher the fees, the higher their out of pocket cost. On the other hand, people love their doctors and surgeons. So, it will be interesting to see how far the popularity of the group goes. Dr
Fréderic Letertre (photo on left),
is enjoying his Facebook fame, and I can understand why. His message as he reached the 10 000 member mark, was "Bravo to the members, but only 5% of physicians so far in the group". Long way to go!
I would have to wonder how many of these group members are physicians and surgeons; given the rate of acceptance by Letertre to the group, he doesn't have enough time to verify all those identities. Nonetheless, so far the contents looks professional. And his is clearly the right way to communicate. And Dr Letertre was not totally new at the game. If you Google his name, you will find his website, his Twitter account @drletertre, televised interviews during the breast implant scandal, a couple dozen videos on his YouTube channel, and a modest Facebook account of 400+ friends.
Plastic surgeons are amongst the most active provider users of the web and social media in France. So, what will the French public health institutions do? The Ministry of Health is not on Facebook. The communications department is not set up to be able to manage this situation on the right channel: Facebook. Same is true for the national insurance agency.
On YouTube, you can publish videos and block commentary. On Twitter, you can be followed and not follow...So turning social media into asocial media is an obvious reflex for governmental organizations. But, as regards, the "Doctors aren't pigeons" group on Facebook, I am sorry to say, the institutional approach just won't fly ;-)