Plastic surgeons often state it: “Most of my patients are Baby Boomers or older, why should I bother with social media?”
The obvious answer is that social media is no longer the exclusive domain of the young. Sure, the stereotypical image of a socially connected consumer is a teen or twenty-something tapping out tweets or updating his or her Facebook page but the reality is that more and more Boomers and seniors are turning to social media. Last year, the Pew Research Center reported that 42% of Americans ages 50 and up used social media, up from just 22% the year before.
And they’re not all researching reading glasses and place to retire. According to a PwC survey issued in April, nearly half (45%) of individuals ages 45 to 64 said they were likely to share health information via social media. That’s less than the 80% of those ages 18 to 24 but still nearly one in two respondents.
I used to think it’d be just the younger patients who’d come in all Internet savvy and the older ones wouldn’t bother, says Richard Rand, M.D., of the Northwest Center for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery in Bellevue, Wash. They might do email but that’s about it. I actually see people across the board doing research online.
But Internet-savvy seniors aside, there’s a more compelling reason that aesthetic professionals should pay attention to social media. Those older patients won’t be patients forever and when younger ones decide they’re ready for cosmetic surgery, they’ll research it, consider the alternatives and ultimately make their decisions the way they do everything else: with the help of social media.
Every brand, every company, needs to look to Millennials as a target audience, says Alex Abraham of Edelman Digital. I don’t care if your client is an adult diaper company or Life Alert (I’ve fallen and I can’t get up), Millennials are driving the purchase of your brand.
And brand loyalty — whether it’s to Apple, Zappos or your practice — is a powerful motivator for this demographic. According to Edelman:
- 86% of Millennials will share their brand preferences online
- 70% say that once they find a company or product they like, they’ll keep coming back
- 58% say they’re more willing to share personal information with brands they trust
All of that “chatter” adds up — not just in terms of how Millennials gather and share information but also in terms of who hears it. With Mom, Dad and the grandparents tuning in, doctors who want to maintain their practices today and grow them for the future can’t afford to ignore it.
For a surgeon, it starts with asking, ‘Where will my customers be in five, 10 or 20 years?’ says Tom Seery, CEO of RealSelf.com. A practice needs to be prepared for the future. What’s happening with 18 to 34 year olds today offers a predictive view into what you can expect seeing across the entire population.