This piece appeared in the March 2021 issue of Independent Practitioner Today as “Cheap and Cheesy Social Media Can Ruin Your Brand.”
How Not To Social: The Sin of Blending In
It’s a tale as old as time: having spent significant resources and countless hours training, clinicians must convey their expertise to the public – especially vital in an overcrowded market. But is “being on social” the same as being great on social? In this month’s piece we’ll discuss another phenomena of social media self sabotage: the sin of blending in.
Dr Casestudy has a good idea of the image they want to portray, and as an astute entrepreneur, they value getting the message out ASAP, so they can focus on their busy clinic – which is ideally getting busier, due to their investment in social media.
Now, if Dr Casestudy is inclined to throw that investment right out the window, they might consider these surefire strategies that promise little to no success:
Option A) Instant Clinic, Just Add Water; or
Option B) You Get What You Pay For, #SoMe Edition.
The prognosis? Unfollowable.
Option A is unfortunately all-too common, and sees clinics ‘playing it safe’ by replicating the status quo.
This tack frequently employs a wealth of stock imagery, #IrrelevantHashtagging, and the occasional foray into badly-lit before and afters. Sometimes, clinics even go the extra mile to incorporate a signature colour palette – a robust way to demonstrate one’s overcommitment to teal.
Whilst a certificate of achievement from FaceTweet Academy and a ‘don’t make waves’ strategy might seemdesirable, on closer inspection, this approach translates into mediocrity with a capital “meh.”
Playing it safe isn’t just about individual content or design preferences (though they definitely matter) – this type of strategy actually diverts traffic, and can drain resources to yield few results.
Now, I anticipate your healthy scepticism, which presumably sounds something like, “well, hotshot – if so many clinics are doing it, how can it be wrong?”
Since it’s an essential component of any successful social media strategy, let’s consider content.
We’ve all seen countless websites, digital ads and printed promotional materials emblazoned with the same uninspired stock images – and I guarantee you know them as well as I do.
Picture it: a plump-cheeked brunette smiles serenely while gloved hands wield a syringe, or cup her face from angles that defy anatomical possibility. (A popular variation is “stares into your soul, poreless cheek grazed by orchid, stock image beauty” – yes, that was a haiku, #SorryNotSorry.)
While such images are updated biennially (or thereabouts) to maintain a contemporary aesthetic, the series will inevitably also include “mud masque over full foundation,” “malaise while attractive” and my personal favourite, “gasp in mirror” – thus ensuring their suitability for the global promotion of all things beauty/wellness.
The fact that we’re sufficiently familiar with this niche subgenre to warrant the UK’s first sector-wide eyeroll, and yet, they are still being used almost across the board should sound some alarm bells. If aesthetic experts can recognise overused images, surely the digitally-savvy patients on social media will too.
Let’s rejoin our colleague, the illustrious Dr Casetudy, as we delve into the second strategy for terrible socials. Cue the Game of Thrones memes: winter is coming, and cold calls are here.
Promising to increase patient acquisition astronomically at half the cost (or less) of a traditional agency, they sound too good to be true – but sadly, even seasoned practitioners like Dr Casetudy will fall foul of the seductive siren call stemming from ‘cheap and cheerful’ services.
It’s worth noting that 2020’s disruptions in employment due to COVID-19 have spawned a tremendous increase in digital marketing startups – with many claiming to be specialised in UK aesthetic treatment.
Not only are they spamming clinics’ inboxes, but my own business gets 5+ cold calls a week from the very same ‘experts’ who can’t distinguish a medical clinic from an actual agency. It’s hard to take them seriously when their business strategy is akin to choosing ‘Doctor’ as a baby name for the med school workaround.
These ‘specialists’ promise to optimise social by blasting out content tailored to clinics’ desired patient base, and seem cost-effective enough to be worth the punt – and while clinicians know they could definitely do better (if they only had the time), since “it’s just about output” – what’s the harm in outsourcing …..right?
I’m going to answer that question by translating their pitch for you (feel free to thank me in treatment!)
“Hi <your username>, the algorithm said you “do beauty.”
We’re playing the odds by pasting this exact message to everyone, so do you fancy paying a low monthly fee for low-value content?
To make it worth our while, our content is 98% recycled and from 2014, but you can rest assured it’s industry-specific – in fact, it’s the exact same content scheduled for your competitors (since it’s so cheap, they bought it too – don’t miss out!)
If paying to damage your brand sounds ideal, let’s organise a call in which we’ll use many incomprehensible buzzwords while telling you whatever you want to hear. Want proof of efficacy? Enjoy these charts and a word cloud (now with 50% more jargon!)
Don’t worry about replying, we’ll revert every few weeks implying your interest, based on the assumption that if you knew what a scam this was, you’d have already blocked us.”
You know the song, so sing it with me: you can’t cut prices without cutting corners – even in social media.
Nikki Milovanovic is the founder and managing director of Sophisticated Comms, an agency specialising in creative strategy, social media and public relations for the lifestyle, beauty, health and wellness sectors.