The Internet has reinvented the way people shop for everything from music to Mommy Makeovers. Empowered, in large part, by social media, people no longer take a direct route from perceived need to final purchase; instead they undertake a more circuitous path, embarking on what David Edelman of McKinsey & Company calls a “consumer decision journey.”
Now, Edelman and his team have expanded on the concept in an interactive piece they call “The Social Journey” that not only describes the path in more detail but explains how businesses can follow along to understand and better serve the needs of potential customers.
For aesthetic professionals wading into the unfamiliar waters of social media, it’s well worth a listen as it lays out the four stages of the trip — Monitoring, Responding, Amplifying and Leading — and suggests appropriate responses along the way:
Monitoring: Conversations in social media provide an unbeatable resource for determining what’s on people’s minds and can reveal their concerns, their sentiments, the value they assign to products and services. Listening in can help you optimize your marketing by helping you determine appropriate messages, focus on particular keywords or even target particular markets.
Responding: For many doctors, the biggest challenge of social media is the fear of joining the conversation, especially when it involves negative mentions of them or their practice. But responding is often the only way to mitigate damage that can spread at lightning speed. Doing so via social media, says Edelman, “gives you a public record of what’s been said and makes sure people are aware of how you’re engaging customers, responding to their questions and being open, honest and personal in your interactions with them.”
Amplifying: Simply put, people feel they provide value to their friends when they share, whether it’s an inside tip, a review of their experience or a special deal or offer. From blog posts to video links, getting your patients to pass your content along puts it in front of like-minded people in a targeted way that general advertising can’t touch.
Leading: Just because you’re following consumers’ social journeys doesn’t mean you can’t help lead them along the way. Asking questions or conducting online polls not only creates a connection but the results can drive changes in your service model and uncover new avenues to pursue. As Edelman says, “Social media is often about discovery. To lead the consumer to new possibilities — that’s a great new function.”
And, really, aren’t new possibilities what aesthetics are all about?