Enhance Your Online Reputation with Social Proof

A funny thing happened at the mall the other day. I was sitting in the food court, nursing a cup of coffee and watching scores of shoppers as they decided between a pair of competing takeout joints. The one on the left was jammed, its offerings all but obscured by a line that was probably 15 minutes long; the one on the right was empty except for two employees who eyed each group of newcomers expectantly, only to see them take their places at the end of the line next door.

It could’ve been the food but there’s a good chance it was something else, as well. In social settings, the behavior of others tends to influence our own subsequent actions. It’s called “social proof” and it provides a time-saving tool for decision-making because others’ actions provide an unstated testimonial to the value of the product or service being considered.

Used appropriately, it can play a similar role in your online marketing. At the same time that consumers are becoming increasingly deaf to promotional pitches, they’re naturally drawn to the validation that other consumers and third-party entities can provide. Here are three ways to put social proof into practice:

On your website: By the time the typical aesthetic consumer visits your practice website, she’s probably well-versed in her options in terms of both procedures and potential providers. What she’s really looking for is confirmation that she’s making the right choice, which is why insights from people like her are so important. Reviews, snippet-style testimonials (with links to full reviews) and video descriptions of patients’ experiences speak far louder than procedure descriptions and your CV.

Via social media: Amassing legions of likes, fans and followers for the sheer sake of amassing them has proven to be a waste of effort as such “vanity metrics” don’t necessarily translate into engagement. That said, if you create content that users do interact with, other users will view their likes, comments and shares as endorsements, providing another dose of social proof.

Via third-party verification: The average aesthetic consumer doesn’t know ASPS from ASAPS from AAFPRS but those logos still serve as “trust seals” that inspire confidence. Other earned honors — local awards, RealSelf 100 honors, etc. — are also worth showcasing as they complement Board Certification and other technical factors with more patient-facing considerations.

Doctor Takeaway

It’s OK to tout your practice but…

As the digital front door to your practice, your website is a perfect example of the old saying that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. And while explaining who you are and what you do is important, having others tout your talents carries a lot of weight. Their insights provide social proof for others who are still considering their options.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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