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For Doctors, One Brand Advocate is Worth a Thousand “Likes”

23 July 2012

Friends don’t let friends get cosmetic surgery from doctors they don’t approve of.

I know, it sounds silly but it’s really just another way of saying that word of mouth is everything these days and that the people who "like" you or follow you can mean the difference between a full surgical schedule and an empty waiting room.

Unfortunately, that essential truth has been tarnished by an over–emphasis on amassing as many Facebook fans or Twitter followers as possible. Accruing a large following simply for the sake of accruing it is, as ever, a fool’s game and the very definition of a "vanity metric." Having 10,000 or 100,000 fans or followers may provide a boost to your ego but it probably won’t build your business.

Simply put, it’s not about who you know, it’s about who those people know and who they interact with that gives them their value. When fans and followers become "brand advocates," their recommendations carry more weight than money, i.e., advertising and other forms of paid media, can buy.

Buyers who frequently recommend brands and products without being paid are highly trusted and influential, noted a February 2012 study from Zuberance. Their recommendations drive trillions of dollars of purchase decisions.

How influential? According to a study by Ipsos OTX released last month, 22% of Internet users worldwide said they would buy a brand that a friend "liked" or followed on a social network. In the U.S., 18% said they would, with the number climbing to 23% for those 34 years old or younger.

That’s only likely to increase as the impact of those socially connected Millennials grows and infiltrates every aspect of their purchasing decisions, including those they’ll make about aesthetic products and procedures.

As Jill Wiltfong of Ipsos puts it,

The better able a brand is to influence people to "like" it, the more sales it has the potential to drive. Now that’s a piece of information brands that are socially active online should really like!

Doctor Takeaway

It’s not the quantity of fan/followers you have; it’s the quality

Look beyond the numbers to see who actually responds to your content, what they say and who they share it with. Cultivate those people – with targeted messages, exclusive offers, invitations to special events – and they’ll likely become even more passionate advocates. As the old E.F. Hutton commercial might have said, "When advocates speak, people listen."

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