Social Proof, Testimonials That Work

  • Written on Tuesday, July 22, 2014 by Geoffrey Cooling

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”. All of the demographics that we are interested in are swayed in some way by social proof.

The power of the effect differs on the differing audiences we have discussed here in an earlier post. Nevertheless it does have an effect on each of the demographics during the decision to move forward with a service provider. The fact that we are service providers in the healthcare field, does not change the need for social proof. In all healthcare fields, prospective patients and the people who care for them tend to be guided by researching what others have decided or are doing when faced with questions in relation to their disease.

Hearing Healthcare web presence and social proof

We all have seen the effect of this through Patient referrals, the word of mouth customers that we are all happy to see. 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 can receive that word of mouth referral because it is online and free to view to anybody who searches for it. But only if you are in fact using it properly, only if you have placed it on your online presence where it will deliver full impact.

So how will you use social proof in your web presence and more importantly what counts as social proof. Testimonials are the premium of social proof, testimonials on web sites and business listings really matter. But like all things, some matter much more than others. There is a hierarchy of testimonials, a scale that moves from low impact to high impact.

The hierarchy of social proof

Text based testimonials: They are great, well in truth they are better than nothing. they do convey social proof but in a rather limp way. Text based testimonials are like getting a kiss from your sister, it was nice but it isn’t going to get the blood pounding. This is pretty much the effect they will have on your prospective customer.

Image and text-based testimonials: Now you are talking, nice words and an image of somebody that your prospective customer can relate to. This one is like a kiss from a very distant cousin, certainly starting to raise some interest.

Video based testimonials: The pinnacle, kissed on prom night by the head cheer leader or Jock, whoop! Living video of someone they can relate to entirely, with a voice they can listen to and if you are doing it right captions they can read. This is the strongest of social proof, something that they can see and feel. Something that they can really engage with, something that may well be the strongest call to action on your web presence.

Your web presence not just your website

I use the words web presence for a reason, because your web presence should be an in-depth concept that goes deeper that just your web site. When you think of your web presence you should consider all of your profiles, social media, business listings, review site profiles, your YouTube profile and your website.

You should place your testimonials on all of these, when it comes to your Google local business listing, you should ask your happy customers to place their testimonials on them for you. In that way they become verified reviews of you and your business. Because don’t forget, it’s not just prospective customers that take note of verified reviews, so does Google.

Use them testimonials

Everyone of us has a list of positive Patients who are more than happy with the outcome of their treatment at our hands. Believe me the positive comments of satisfied customers are the most powerful form of social proof. You should ask for them, ask for permission to use them and at the very least digitize them and place them on every one of your online channels.

You should at the very least place a picture of each Patient beside the testimonial. It is far 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.

Other forms of social proof

But there is more than just testimonials that count as social proof in the online world. Understand that the core concept of social proof 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 which I have discussed elsewhere before can be applied to your website, blog and social channels.

Social activity counters

You can see social activity counters 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. You know it has worth and you really want to share it, we know where you live.

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 images

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. I reviewed a web site last week and most of my first paragraph was ” DON’T GET RID OF THE PICTURES!!!!!!!!!!”.

The images used were of the clinician, the staff the Practice setting and a happy Patient. They were excellent, they portrayed that professional but human feel. It looked like somewhere you wanted to go to. Steve Claridge was nearly getting a flight!

Talk about your qualifications awards and recognition

Don’t go nuts here, that award for the safe cross code in High 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 been little used within healthcare marketing, it is important that you use it to your best advantage in your Practice and in your web presence.

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?

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