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Do influencers really make a difference?

In a social media dominated world is working with an influencer really the best call you can make for yourself as a dentist? Dr. Rhona Eskander joins us to talk about how influencers changed things for her career.

19 April, 2024

Dr. Rhona Eskander is a well established UK dentist whose career got positively impacted by influencers collaborations. But how relevant are they actually? Do they have the power of changing a dentist’s career for good? Do their actions always offer relevant results? We talked with Rhona about all this and much more.

Dr Prav Solanki: Talk to me about influencers. There’s a lot of people out there who are dentists who won’t know what an influencer is or at least what’s involved in treating them as in discounting treatment, free treatment? Are they demanding? The difference between an influencer and a real celebrity and you treat both, right?

Dr Rhona Eskander: Yeah.

Dr Prav Solanki: I know your business partner. Adarsh has mentioned to me that he knows some people in high places from a celebrity perspective, everyday names that all of us would know. Just tell us what it’s like to treat those people and what’s involved.

Dr Rhona Eskander: Whether you’re an influencer or not, I love treating all kinds of people, but there was this one influencer that really changed my world. I didn’t really know what an influencer was. A couple of years ago I got a DM from two people, one’s called Beauty and the Blog and the other one’s called Melissa Wardrobe. They messaged going like, “I really like your work. It’s not fake. Can I come to see? Do you do collaborations?”

I was like, “Who are you and what is the collaboration?” I was like, “I have no idea what these terms are.” I was like, “Hey, I don’t do anything for free, but I guess you can come in for a consultation and we can just chat about what you had in mind.” Melissa came in before Michelle and Melissa documented this journey showing the eye tarot scanner and the whole experience, and honest to God, it was two years ago, I still see four patients a week from her, four patients a week.

Dr Prav Solanki: Still now?

Dr Rhona Eskander: Still now. And she only had about 80,000 followers, which isn’t big as you know in the influence world. But it opens up the door to an entirely new market. It was all Afro-Caribbeans because they really trust her. That’s the key thing. Because later on I discovered I had influencers with 13,000,000 followers and I got about five patients overall from them. But Melissa, it’s because her audience trusts her. She’s funny and she’s authentic. She actually put her teeth experience on her highlights.

It was really funny because I also work part-time in Westminster and we have a lot of politicians, a lot of politicians you guys would know. You know what they’re like, conservative party, labour party, whatever. They’d be sitting in the waiting room. They’d been going to this Westminster practice for ages.

So you go in there and you’d see a really famous politician next to an influencer with a huge wig, lashes, nails, on her phone, right next to this really established politician. Then I realised the power of influence as you said, I was like, “Gosh, this has brought in so much business.” That’s when business for me boomed in a way that I’d never imagined.

It opens up the door to an entirely new market

Michelle came to see me next and Michelle had a similar effect, but also they were just people that were just signing up for treatment plans. Again, it was mainly millennial patients and gen Z. So it’s different. It’s different from the kinds of old school patients. I found that treating influencers was great in the beginning. Now I think it has zero to no effect on my business if I’m honest with you because I’ve established that reputation.

If an influencer comes to me now, it’s really a big deal. I’ve actually now changed the rules. I was treating most for a discounted fee, very few completely free, if only probably a handful. Now I’ve gone back to just a reduced fee for kind of good video content and so forth. Because to be honest, I feel like every dentist is doing it now. As Payman said, it’s just lost its authenticity to me. So it was just like, “So what?”

Dr Prav Solanki: What’s your yardstick for measuring whether you should give an influencer discounted, free, 50%, 30%?

Dr Rhona Eskander: When Mel B came to me from the Spice Girls, I was not going to charge her. I was like, “Let’s begin on this.” I think that I basically just have a look at their profile, try to gauge what their following is and so forth. With Melissa, she’s going to upgrade a few things in her smile a couple of years on and I just think that because of the power of what she’s done so far, I know that it’s a vetted case.

Dr Payman Langroudi: I think what you said before is really important, right? The depth of the influence rather than the breadth of the influence.

Dr Rhona Eskander: Yeah.

Dr Payman Langroudi: You’ve got, I don’t know, how many? 50,000 followers on Instagram, but that’s a number.

Dr Rhona Eskander: Yeah.

Dr Payman Langroudi: Firstly that can be bought and all that. But the depth. This is what I was saying about the authentic content. I’ve seen you go on Instagram and say, “I’m ill and I have to take some time off.”

Dr Rhona Eskander: Yeah.

Dr Payman Langroudi: For me, that deep connection to 3000 people is much more important than a shallow connection to 50,000. And so that’s what she has.

You’d see a really famous politician next to an influencer…that’s when I realised the power of influencing

Dr Rhona Eskander: Yeah. That’s really interesting because a lot of my following was built through influencers talking about me, but that doesn’t necessarily ensure good engagement, for example. So, as I said to you, some of my posts would have had so many likes and then really reduced.

When people look at it, they’re like, “That doesn’t make sense, because of the following board.” Or whatever. But the problem was that when I had someone to come in that had 12,000,000 followers, I may have gained 3000 followers from that person. But it doesn’t necessarily mean engagement. Do you understand? It just means followers.

But the thing is that I always believe in honesty and vulnerability and I think that as dentists there’s this massive bravado thing that comes along where we can’t show how we’re really feeling and there’s this, we can’t be human. I just feel like we should just start talking about it because I think the younger generation are going to suffer more than us.

It has been proven already that social media is linked to anxiety, to depression and now it’s also linked to suicide. If we don’t start being more honest about the way that we’re feeling, it could be catastrophic. You’re looking at these reality TV programmes like Love Island where four people have now killed themselves.

Dr Payman Langroudi: Four people?

Dr Rhona Eskander: Yeah. Because remember there was Mike, then there was Sophie, then her boyfriend killed himself as well. Then there was Caroline Flack. That’s four people. It’s like we need to start taking note that people become so elevated, they enjoy that status of elevation and validation to only be torn back down again. Or they have enjoy people revelling in the fact that they’ve done something bad or they can’t sustain that level of success and they become depressed.

I think that’s the same for dentistry because denfluencing, seeing as you know, Dental Hope called it is the thing now, isn’t it? People want to become denfluencers. Young people are messaging me on Instagram saying to me, “How do you become an Instagram dentist?” I’m like, “Is this even a thing now?” Because, that’s what people want to be.

Dr Payman Langroudi: Yeah. And there’s always been a KOL, but the KOLs used to be older, established people who’ve done real things with their careers and now it’s people who have influence, right?

Dr Rhona Eskander: Yeah.

Dr Payman Langroudi: But the interesting thing is as dentists, we want to follow other dentists. It’s one of those things.

I wish I realised that earlier and Enlighten’s progression in the first eight years, I wasn’t onto that fact.

Dr Rhona Eskander: Yeah. But I think the thing is, Payman. I have to disagree with you there because I think the thing that makes me different from other dentists is that I’ve always thought beyond dentistry.

Dr Payman Langroudi: Yeah. Sure.

Dr Rhona Eskander: Even with the movement of Pärla, the thing that makes it different is that the traction that I’ve gained is from non-dentists, right? This is from people in the PR media world. They’re like, “Whoa, this is it.”

If it was just focused on dentists, I’m sorry, like there is a world outside of dentistry and there are people beyond dentists and this is a thing that you’ve got to realise, you have been promoting and doing bonding for how many years? But it didn’t become a buzzword until it became in the media through influencers and through celebrities.

Dr Payman Langroudi: Of course.

If you want to listen to that episode of the podcast, click here


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