It’s true. When I moved to Sarasota I had to find a new hairdresser – my first priority. That’s somewhat disingenuous. I did need a haircut pretty badly when I first arrived while I knew it would take some deeper research to find a doctor.
I picked their names out of a hat. In other words, I didn’t get a referral from a friend. I turned to the web. This experience can be a lesson in how important our social media presence is if we want to attract new clients.
Was I Crazy?
I did ask a couple of friends who they used to cut their hair but they weren’t all that enthusiastic. So I went online and searched for “Sarasota hairdressers.” d. Cole Hair Design came up number three and right under it was a Yelp roundup of The Ten Best Hair Salons in Sarasota, FL.
I decided to check them out. d. Cole has a well designed website and many enthusiastic reviews for individual hairdressers that had the ring of authenticity.
They are leveraging social media with 683 Facebook Page Likes and 332 followers on Instagram.
Their robust website has bios of their hairdressers and a portfolio of client hairstyles. I made an appointment and, instead of pulling up to the glamorous shop I expected based on their social media presence, I found myself in front of an old wood frame house.
On entering, though, I was impressed with the décor and my welcome. Sarah, my hairdresser, discussed in detail what I wanted. I was pleased with the haircut and surprised that, in a first for me, the salon took a photo of my hairstyle for future reference. What a smart idea!
Here’s the real kicker. Within a day I received an email survey about my experience and asking for a testimonial. Raise your hands if you ask your clients for feedback and recommendations. Hmmm. Not many hands.
It wasn’t an accident that Google delivered their results on the first page. An active social media presence and a dynamic website all contributed to the salon’s ranking. Even the smallest business can have an impact using social media.
My New Doctor
Choosing a new doctor can be a traumatic experience. Let’s face it: do any of us really know if our doctor is any good? This is a serious question. We can’t really know until we’re faced with a major illness, when we’re depending on our doctor to refer us to the right specialists and prescribe the correct medicines.
First off, as a member of an HMO, I had to check with my insurance company for a current list of doctors in my network (although I’m in a PPO and can go out of network if I choose to).
My criteria was that the candidates had to be Board Certified, graduated from a U.S. medical school, and served residencies at good hospitals. They also had to be affiliated with Sarasota Memorial Hospital, a highly ranked regional hospital
But how they presented themselves on the web did have an influence on my choice. The Intercoastal Medical Group kept popping up. It is a huge group. Some 75 physicians in every specialty.
From some website reviews I expected to visit a factory – in and out – but, to my surprise, my new doctor wanted to meet for a consultation before we scheduled my annual physical. This again was a first.
We spent a half hour (nowadays an eternity) going over my records and health history. I liked him personally, which I think is important. You need to have a rapport and basic trust to share your most intimate moments with someone.
This experience reinforced for me the need to have an active presence on social media. Not only did d. Cole have 332 followers on Instagram, they are following 800 people, all potential clients, as the salon caters to women and men.
The Intercoastal Medical Group has a patient portal where I can view all my records, as can every doctor in the group that may have need to see my records if I’m referred to one of them for treatment. It is comforting to know that all my records will be in one location.
You Need More Than a Presence
But once you’re found through social media, you’ve got to deliver. I was treated like a guest and not a customer at the hair dresser. My doctor wanted to know more about me as a person and my medical background. He showed real interest. The staff followed through on my next appointments. I felt in good hands.
Now I have to find an ophthalmologist, a gynecologist, a dentist and a periodontist. But those are tasks for another day.