How Cosmetic Providers Are Using Social Media To Market To You
By Eileen Spatz
Most of us are well aware that social media has become a ubiquitous aspect of modern society. Especially among millennials and the up-and-comer Gen Z cohort, platforms like Instagram or SnapChat are accessed dozens, if not hundreds, of times a day. Fashion magazines have fallen out of fashion; a staid, static assemblage of images that young people consider dated before the mag even hits the coffee table. In comparison, young people prefer the parade of fashionistas and influencers seen on social media that provide real-time sourcing for trend-scouting and hip new designers.
Along with the vibrant images of cool wardrobe innovations and hair and make-up trends, a steady feed of celebrities touting their pumped up pouts has spurred huge demand for dermal fillers among the young followers of such highly influential celebs. The practice of spending copious amounts of time trend-watching on social media has not escaped the notice of purveyors of aesthetic procedures, including medi-spas, plastic surgeons, and dermatologists who are always looking for the best ROI for their marketing efforts.
Dysfunctional thought and behavior patterns from such obsessive attention to one's looks are beginning to emerge. The selfie era has created a hyper-focused fixation on attaining physical perfection, even if questionable tactics are employed. The proliferation of photo editing tools and filters available that can enhance our ho-hum visage into a flawless, glowing version of such are now considered social media staples. It seems everyone is one-upping the other in perfecting their public online persona, impressing each other with ginned up images that are getting dangerously close to cartoonish.
All of this intense selfie-curating has people homing in on any little facial imperfection or asymmetry and heading for the plastic surgeon's office to take care of it. A term has even been coined to address this disorder, "selfie dysmorphia," paying homage to the mental health disorder, body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). BDD is related to obsessive-compulsive disorder and involves an exaggerated preoccupation with a perceived physical flaw that can result in social isolation or social anxiety. Selfie dysmorphia simply narrows down the scope of the disordered behavior to obsessively fretting over minor beauty flaws that most people would not even notice.
Again, this is like raw meat for the cosmetic industry that wants to capitalize on these insecurities and capture the attention of the teens and young adults on social media so intent on perfecting their selfie shots. Accessing the marketing tools built into the social media platform, or by simply uploading "informative" videos onto the feed for their practice or medi-spa, these sometimes unqualified practitioners can scoop up prospective clients who don't understand the need to perform due diligence. Followers on Instagram may find themselves trusting those practitioners who have managed to rack up thousands of followers and traction on their feeds, the gold star status of social media. This potential scheme is a common one, where fake followers and likes are bought and paid for via a big marketing budget to pump up credibility as a trusted resource, often masking inferior qualifications.
YouTube has emerged as a go-to source for solid information by people interested in cosmetic procedures. People may search on YouTube for the procedure they are considering and trustingly absorb informative videos that purpose to relay important information about the procedure. Well wouldn't you know it, a recent study out of Rutgers University found that less than one-third of 240 insanely popular videos for plastic surgery procedures featured actual board-certified plastic surgeons. Most were produced by people who were unqualified to perform the procedures they were demonstrating or discussing in the videos, underlining the reality that social media is attracting hucksters and poseurs who use the platform as a marketing scheme, but under the guise of offering professional guidance.
The bottom line? Vet, vet, and vet some more before blindly assuming that someone on a social media platform posing as a board certified plastic surgeon is actually that. More often than not, these earnest looking individuals care deeply about only one thing, capitalizing on someone's blind trust.