Leveraging the power of social proof
Social proof is a powerful signal to prospective purchasers, it works to validate the purchase in quite a strong way. Put at it’s simplest it is the concept that “they have purchased or used this product or service with good result. Therefore I should purchase or use this product or service with good result”. In all healthcare fields, prospective patients and the people responsible for their care tend to be guided by researching what others have decided or are doing when faced with questions in relation to their disease. We all have seen the effect of this through Patient referrals, the word of mouth customers that we are all happy to see. The concept was exceptionally well explored in a recent article “The Secret Power Behind Why We Pick Crowded Restaurants Over Empty Ones”.As I have said before that word of mouth phenomenon is now firmly online, this in fact amplifies the power of that phenomenon. More people receive that word of mouth referral because it is online and free to view to anybody who searches for it.
As per the article “Healthcare Marketing, Pew Research” over 70% of Internet users say that they had searched online for health information in 2011, with the most commonly researched topics being specific diseases or conditions; treatments or procedures; and doctors or other health professionals. [Pew Internet: Health]
Healthcare marketing and social proof
So how will you use social proof in your online activities and more importantly what counts as social proof. Testimonials are the first thing that pop to mind, they are the premium of social proof. But there is more than just testimonials that count as social proof in the online world. Among the many ways to harness social proof online is first to be mindful that the core concept is to harness and display the validation of others. If you consider this simple concept, it opens up many ways that you can apply validation to your online presence. Some of the following ideas can be applied to your website, blog and social channels.
Everyone of us has a list of positive Patients who are more than happy with the outcome of their treatment at our hands. The positive comments of satisfied customers are a very powerful form of social proof, probably the most powerful. You should ask for them, ask for permission to use them and at the very least digitize them and place them on every on of your online channels. You should also at the very least place a picture of each Patient beside the testimonial. It is more powerful if you can collect them in video format, video on a website drives more engagement and reduces bounce rate. It is also much more powerful and personal than a written quote. You should ensure that they are posted on your website, blog and any social media channel you are using, video comments should also be used on your waiting room television.
Social activity counters
You can see above and below this post several different types of social activity counters. They actively display the amount of times a page, post or in deed the website have been shared or liked. Again it is a simple validation process, someone has liked or shared this content therefore it probably has worth. That validation of worth by extension is shared with the website. Website pages, blog sites, individual blog posts and any other public-facing pages can and should display activity counters.
The use of visuals
Consider the use of visuals of real people and activities that are involved with your Practice or using your products/services. They can be informal photos taken around the Practice or more formal photos taken at events.
Talk about your qualifications awards and recognitions
Don’t go nuts here, that award for the safe cross code in primary school doesn’t count! Having said that these things are important so without turning it into a festival of self love. Talk about professional recognitions, community and civic awards including any media quotes or spotlights.
Your history is powerful
The longevity and the background to your business holds power, explain it clearly, talk about your background, business history and your links to the community. This is a strong indication of your business stability. Something that is very important particularly with our demographic. I have seen other industries use things like the number of people served, products sold, or family generations participating. I think these can be powerful for our industry as well.
Social proof is an amazingly powerful phenomenon, we are faced with and influenced by it every day. Up to now, it has not really been used within healthcare marketing, it is important that you use it to your best advantage in your Practice. Our demographic are traditionally conservative, traditionally careful about making purchase decisions. Social proof is exceptionally important to our demographic particularly in difficult economic times, so shouldn’t you be using it? Below is a little infographic I came across, interesting reading.