Image is Everything: Photos + Social = Better Consumer Engagement

before and after photos, visual learning, patient privacyIf you were to tally what captures people’s interest on the Internet, you could say that the eyes have it.

It’s true, and bad puns aside, all you have to do is look at recent developments in social media to recognize that the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” may be undervaluing the power of visual imagery, especially when it’s coupled with the incredible reach of social media. Consider:

  • In March, Facebook overhauled its News Feed, making photos larger and giving posts with images more prominence. According to data from Kissmetrics, “photo posts” receive 53% more Likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs on links.
  • In October, Twitter also unveiled a new design that emphasizes photos. Instead of tapping the “Expand” link to see images, they’ll show up automatically within the feed.
  • The explosive growth of image-based social networks, including Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr, is de facto proof that consumers love visual imagery.

What’s that mean for medical marketing? Well, when 65 to 85% of people describe themselves as “visual learners” — that is, they digest information more easily based on what they see vs. what they read — it’s impossible to overstate the importance of having a good gallery of Before & After photos.

Ultimately, there’s no way to tell if a picture is truly worth a thousand words or not but if you want to engage aesthetic consumers, they’re clearly worth investing in.

Doctor Takeaways

Aesthetic consumers love Before & After photos

Photo galleries are among the most-viewed pages both on RealSelf and on many doctors’ practice websites. More to the point, perhaps, 68% of RealSelf users say they’re highly influenced by photos when choosing a doctor.

Photo sharing via social media provides added incentive

The more people share hastily snapped photos online, the more likely they are to see themselves in a less flattering light — and the more likely they may be to consider cosmetic surgery. In fact, according to a survey by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), such sharing has led to a 31% increase in requests for surgery.

Best practices provide the best results

All of the above is moot, or worse, if you don’t take the appropriate steps to ensure you use patient photos legally, ethically and with appropriate respect for patient privacy. Protect them by ensuring that photos and related data (e.g., file names and tags) have no Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and protect your practice by getting “commercial consent” that gives you permission to use the images for marketing and other, non-care purposes.

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, and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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