Julia Kendrick explores how, when and why to get on board with celebrity trends and how to translate this into meaningful business outputs.
The aesthetic specialty sometimes seems to have a split personality – on one side is the medical, ethical approach that many of us strive to represent in our businesses, and on the other is the frivolous, extreme and often celebrity-driven ‘fad’ elements that flood our Instagram feeds. There is no doubt – thanks to social media – that we are now firmly in an era of ‘society-driven’ medicine, where public and media perceptions of our industry are locked in a symbiotic cycle; one feeding and driving the other. Like it or not, celebrity culture and the media now influence many of the trends (and patient demands) seen in aesthetic practice today, and knowing how and when to engage with this can be a critical tool to keeping your clinic ahead of the curve and driving sales.
In the past, cosmetic surgery and medical aesthetics only belonged in the realms of Hollywood and were often secretive or seen as only for the wealthy, setting those who undergo treatment apart from the crowd (and often not in an aspirational way). Switch to today and the huge shift towards minimally-invasive products and procedures has enabled cosmetic interventions to be within the grasp of the ‘average’ person with desired outcomes shifting towards looking good, not ‘done’. We still have celebrity influencers, but these are now much more likely to be social media ‘stars’ such as Kim Kardashian.
With ‘selfies’, Instagram and Snapchat filters now driving many beauty and fashion trends, practitioners face a double-edged sword when it comes to jumping onto a trend bandwagon. Incorporating a strategic trend-led treatment or offer into your clinic’s PR and marketing can help you take advantage of a swell of existing patient interest and attention. This can be funnelled effectively into bookings, brand awareness and PR opportunities. What is sensational one minute can often be standard procedure the next. For example, the infamous viral photo of Kim Kardashian’s bloodied face – the start of the Vampire Facelift – caused initial shock, yet platelet-rich plasma is now standard practice in many clinics. However, beware of the ‘whatever next’ bandwagon as occasionally these trends are just that – flashes in the pan, not founded on proven products, or ethical practice. Make sure you take an educational role in helping prospective patients separate the ‘new and interesting’ from the bizarre and irresponsible.
The first key element of successful celebrity and trend-led marketing is to identify and monitor those celebrities who will appeal to your clinic demographic. Take some time to check out your customer’s overall age profile and the most requested procedures in your clinic before creating a shortlist of celebrities who might appeal to that demographic (see Figure 1 as an example). A mix of British celebrities and other cultures is also useful to draw up. You could also run a quick survey among your patients to identify the top three celebrities they find most beautiful or aspirational, in return for a small reward or a chance to win a small gift set. This is also great for customer engagement and is very useful for your marketing campaigns!
Once you know the kind of celebrities who will appeal to your patients, you can begin monitoring social and online sources for news and ideas related to these particular individuals and their beauty ‘secrets’ – or for broader beauty stories and trends, which you could link to your target celebs. This can easily be done by setting up Google alerts for your target celebrities, so you are the first to hear of any stories involving them, or key search terms like ‘facials’ or ‘fillers’. Another option is to use Twitter platform like Tweetdeck,1 where you can create search columns for specific users, or hashtags such as #dermalfillers or #beautytrends. You only want to highlight aspirational trends – so it goes without saying to steer clear of anything that appears extreme, unsafe or where the celebrity is ‘hiding’ their treatment. Being ‘papped’ coming out of a clinic, or showing off bizarre after-effects of treatment (e.g. the Gwyneth Paltrow ‘cupping’ story),2 is not perhaps the best way to market your own offerings. Look out for celebrity interviews, news and magazine articles and social media posts for inspiration about upcoming trends and what celebrities are talking about.
The trouble with trends is that they often come and go, so your marketing must be nimble to capitalise on short-term opportunities. For example, if a celebrity reveals in a magazine interview that they ‘swear by’ a certain skincare brand, facial, or treatment which you either have in-clinic, or are about to launch, or is closely linked to your treatment offerings, this could be utilised as a trend-driven marketing opportunity.
This should ideally be done on the day, or the day after the story breaks. Keep the email short, sweet and visual. Highlight the celebrity story and use an image of the celebrity – you should get these images from a stock photo library and not just pull them from the internet as you could be in breach of copyright laws.3,4 In the e-blast, tell your customers about the trend, what the celebrity has said and then link it to your relevant clinic treatment or offering. For extra oomph, you might want to create a special treatment offer with a bespoke code – subject to conditions. If possible, create a temporary landing page on your website, which just includes the same information as the e-blast to direct web traffic from social posts – this allows you to assess the engagement with each trend-driven activity.
Video formats get the highest engagement on social channels, in fact, social video generates 1,200% more shares than text and images combined.5 Produce a video about your expert advice or opinion about the latest celebrity trend; remember to keep the focus very targeted and don’t go off track. This positions you as someone with knowledge about that particular trend. At the end of your video you should also add links to your blog or the treatment page on your website, this can help drive traffic and focus bookings. Alternatively, a social media post linking to the original story or celebrity image, with the caption highlighting your special offer is a rapid way to capitalise on a celebrity trend. Always make sure you include the relevant hashtags so users seeking this information can find you easily. For Instagram, encourage your followers to go to the link in your bio (that connects to your special landing page or blog) or to swipe up to book (this feature is only available in Instagram if you have over 15K followers).6
This is the opportunity to provide more education to your patients about the trend or treatment and give your opinion (positive or negative) alongside your recommended treatment focus or products for your patients. Beware of speculation – limit your comments to verifiable trends or a statement from a celebrity interview. Commenting on what someone ‘might’ have done is a potential defamation situation,4,7 so stick to celebrity interviews or direct quotes. Promote the blog post on your social channels and ensure you use the celebrity picture with a snappy title – such as ‘The Secret Behind Kate Winslet’s Glowing Skin’. Blogs not only create engagement among existing and potential patients, but they could get you on the radar of local press or. bloggers and social media influencers looking for a credible source to ask about the latest ‘must have’ treatment – thereby building your reputation and increasing exposure.
To maximise these methods, re-use the above in your monthly clinic newsletter. As long as your newsletters are relatively frequent, the ‘trend’ should still be in the public eye – but if in doubt, Google Trends is a great tool to monitor search volumes for a particular topic or celebrity in your country, so you can check that you still are ‘on trend’!8 You can include the video link in your newsletter, a summary of the blog post, or include a ‘last chance’ reminder of your e-blast special offer. The key to all this is multi-channel consistency – don’t rely on just one method to drive through the sales – link as many as possible, be that through the website, newsletters, social posts and blogs.
Don’t forget your in-clinic marketing as well. You can post your videos talking about the latest celebrity trends onto your clinic TV as this can be easily updated, or even create eye-catching posters to link the celebrity/trend to your in-clinic offerings in the reception area. Remember to ensure that your in-clinic marketing stays relevant and replace with the latest information once the trend changes.
If you are able to quickly and effectively position yourself as an early adopter of the latest trend treatment, you could be the ‘first’ or ‘only’ one to get on the bandwagon, which can be marketing gold. In order to do this, your PR channels (website, social media, traditional press) need to be responsive, rapid and consistent – profiling your offering and optimised to take advantage of the wave of media coverage, Google searches and social media hashtags linking you to the new trend.
However, being a trend-setter can be a double-edged sword if you align yourself and your business to a product or procedure that hasn’t been properly researched or tested. An example would be Macrolane – which went from rave reviews for lunchtime ‘boob jobs’, to women left with crippling health problems.9 In addition, there has been much commentary on the rise of body dysmorphia linked with aesthetics and cosmetic surgery.10 There are increasing levels of anxiety and depression among patients, particularly Millennials, which are being linked to social media use and how they appear on platforms like Instagram versus real life.11 Patient education and responsible marketing remain paramount, so always ensure you include your expert advice and opinion when utilising any broader industry or beauty trends in your clinic marketing.
While celebrity trends come and go, they can provide highly effective marketing opportunities if you can create the content quickly and distribute across multiple channels. The bottom line is that as responsible, reputable practitioners you need to decide which trends are truly well-founded in medicine and quality application before advocating them to your patients. Aesthetics is a hotbed of innovation, which means there will be no shortage of these exciting opportunities. But, as long as you look under the surface of these trends, you should be able to effectively navigate for icebergs and minimise risks that could take down your business and hard-won reputation.
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