RealSelf, the cosmetic services marketplace and content site, is taking the concept of being where the customer is and applying it to social media.
On April 25, RealSelf quietly launched a concierge service on Instagram, under the username @RealSelfConcierge. The concierge service exists as a unique RealSelf account, separate from the original @RealSelf with its 239,000 followers, and is managed by 12 customer service employees. The customer reps are responsible for communicating with people about procedures, including citing information available on RealSelf.com. Hailey Sullivan, CMO of RealSelf, said the complimentary concierge is not meant to be a heavily marketed feature for RealSelf, for now, but does represent the beginning of personalized support opportunities for cosmetic services.
“While there are more treatments and more options, there’s also more need than ever for a partner like RealSelf to help consumers with trusted insights and unbiased information,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan said the concierge service arose from insight on the company’s main Instagram page when followers began commenting on a before-and-after post with inquiries on which doctor performed the cosmetic service. Sullivan said the doctor in question was based in the U.K., which she felt was unfortunate for anyone in the U.S. due to the cost and recovery time. It would also require anyone interested in similar before-and-after services to then go back to RealSelf.com to begin manual research, and that was not conducive to the mindset of people passively scrolling on Instagram.
“[People] want things the way they want it and when they want it; they want to engage [then and there] with someone on Instagram,” she said. “All of a sudden, we thought, ‘OK, we already have consumer support advisors who know all this information and [provide] that through email, [phone] chat and our site, and we should extend it into Instagram.”
Aside from the listing on RealSelf’s Instagram bio, RealSelf social media managers plan to tag @RealSelfConcierge in posts whenever commentators inquire about providers or ask for specific information about a featured procedure. From there, the customer service representatives can directly connect with people who direct message the concierge.
RealSelf ‘s concierge program speaks to the embedded idea of being where the customer is — this customer is routinely on social media. But it also speaks to the massive influence social media has on cosmetic procedures and the growing awareness and interest in them. For example, a 2019 study out of Saudi Arabia found that, out of 816 completed questionnaires, 49% of respondents reported being influenced by social media to consider undergoing cosmetic procedures. Furthermore, 51% of respondents followed plastic surgeons on social media.
The accessibility of social media content that purportedly exemplifies beauty standards, whether it’s models and celebrities or more candid before-and-after cosmetic photos, has fostered the idea of accessibility but also fueled its mundanity. It’s no longer a surprise when someone posts about receiving cosmetic surgery or non-invasive cosmetic treatments. But cosmetic procedures are not mundane affairs, especially those that require months of recovery. RealSelf’s concierge service aims to address questions and concerns with helpful and factual information within the social media framework of where they arise, as opposed to waiting for someone to actively solicit RealSelf online or losing them to less reputable sources.
RealSelf is also looking to other ways to reach patients in more accessible ways and offer more personalized and immediate assistance. At the beginning of 2022, RealSelf published an e-book about tummy tucks, which compiles existing information available on RealSelf and presents it in a more interesting and reader-friendly way. RealSelf also published an online procedure guide for gender-affirmation surgeries for transgender people, addressing the growing need and desire for such cosmetic services. Additionally, an instant appointment booking pilot with cosmetic procedure financing company Yes Doctor, launched in mid-May. It’s meant to help patients understand when cosmetic providers are available and to make booking an appointment easier.
“You’ll see us continue to elevate our content in places like video, Instagram and YouTube,” said Tom Seery, founder of RealSelf in a previous Glossy interview. “All in all, we’re just trying to have our information reach people wherever they want to spend their time and however they want to consume their information.”