(The Facts about) Photos Don’t Lie, Part I

before & after photos, aesthetic consumers, realself

Photos courtesy of Sam Naficy, MD

It may be time to update the old saying that photos don’t lie. Between advertisers who routinely PhotoShop the people in their ads and everyday Instagrammers who use filters to enhance their selfies, it’s probably safer to say that some photos seriously stretch the truth.

There’s just one problem: When it comes to photos, stretching the truth is a sure way to break viewers’ trust. Factor in the crucial role photos play in potential patients’ decisions in choosing a doctor and it’s clear that maintaining the quality and integrity of yours has never been more important.

How important are photos to aesthetic consumers? As Tom Seery, CEO of RealSelf, recently noted in Modern Aesthetics, in a recent survey, 83% of consumers researching cosmetic surgery said they would not consider a practice that doesn’t have Before & After photos. In fact, Before & After galleries get viewed more often than any other type of content. Consider the numbers:

  • In the past year, doctor-uploaded photos on RealSelf were viewed 42 million times
  • Over the same period, consumer-uploaded photos were viewed 240 million times
  • When asked what type of content was most influential in selecting a doctor, one in four website visitors surveyed said Before & After photos (only reviews are more influential, with 57 percent citing these as the key factor)

Given the above, not having a good selection of photos on your website and the social platforms where aesthetic consumers congregate is more than just a missed marketing opportunity. It’s also a red flag for consumers who are left to wonder why (or why not), many of whom will likely answer in one of two ways: Either you don’t have photos because you don’t perform that procedure very often or you don’t have any good ones because you’re not very good at it. Neither one is likely to build the kind of trust that will prompt a potential patient to contact your practice.

On the other hand, as the statistics above show, having a good selection of Before & After images is a proven method of attracting the interest — and generating the engagement — of aesthetic consumers. Photos are more easily consumed than text; they provide a sort of shorthand that helps consumers make sense of complicated subjects, and they demonstrate in no uncertain terms both the quality of your work and the fact that you stand behind it.

So, how many Before & After photos should you have? As Seery notes, there is no hard-and-fast number, but research indicates that a doctor’s profile on RealSelf is suboptimal if there are fewer than 10 photos uploaded. For doctors above this minimum, the models show that eight additional photos will net one new patient contact. Factor in the diversity of aesthetic consumers and the reality that people considering cosmetic surgery want to see results on people who look like them, and it’s safe to say that there’s no such thing as too many.

Are your Before & After photos giving potential patients a clear impression of your practice? We’ll look at some ways to ensure your images maintain the quality standards that build trust in a subsequent post; in the meantime, you can read the rest of Tom Seery’s Modern Aesthetics article here.

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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