If you’re not; your competitors probably are
Social proof is the psychological phenomenon where people tend to look at what others are doing before deciding the best course of action… also known as “the power of the crowd”.
Social proof is powerful. Very, very powerful. It’s the reason why:
- You look into the window of an empty restaurant window and feel compelled to give it a miss in favour of the the busy one next door.
- You’re more likely to buy an item with lots of high scoring reviews than a similar item with no reviews.
- A sitcom audience finds jokes funnier and laughs more if it is presented with “canned laughter”.
Being susceptible to social proof does not mean that you are a lemming, or that you ‘follow the crowd’. Of course, you have your own mind…
Or do you…?
Social proof is a massive force that has the potential to influence your behaviour, but oftentimes, we simply have no idea we’re even being affected by it. That is what makes it an amazing tool to encourage potential clients to book an appointment.
A Five-Pronged Persuasion
Before we explain how you can use social proof to market your practice, let’s look at the main types of social proof we can see in the modern world:
This is where a leading person in an industry, or expert in a subject, shows approval for a type of therapy or therapy practice. They might blog or vlog (video blog) about it, tweet or write an article in the media about it, or there might be photos of the person at the practice, or with the therapist.
A key example would be a dentist recommending a specific brand of toothpaste, or research showing a particular therapy is beneficial.
This works like expert social proof, only it comes with a celebrity endorsement which is the most powerful if the celebrity hasn’t been paid for it.
Quite simply, if a celebrity you like promotes a service, you’re more likely to choose that service ahead of other services that are the same but offered by competing practices.
A key example would be when Gemma Collins had hypnotherapy to help her lose weight and she went onto morning TV to actively promote the hypnotherapist she used, as well as through her social media channels.
Celebrities might also unknowingly promote a brand, which still creates social proof. For example, Prime examples are when Facebook gazillionaire, Mark Zuckerberg, posted about the iGrill and ended up crashing the product’s website because everybody wanted to buy the product. Or any time that the Duchess Of Cambridge wears anything: like the gorgeous floral number she wore for the Chelsea Flower Show, that sold out in seconds once she was seen in it.
User social proof includes likes, shares, positive comments and feedback on a service. Tripadvisor is a great example of how user social proof works. There are 453 million opinions and reviews on Tripadvisor. The more positive descriptions of a service you see the more likely you are to trust the service in question, as long as the reviews are mainly positive.
When lots of people are using a product or spending money on a service and seeing results, others want to benefit as well. The recent “fidget spinner” craze is a perfect example: everyone had one, so everyone wanted one.
It’s the same reason parents in the 90’s queued up and got into physical fights to get a Furby for their children for Christmas.
Those we love and trust: friends, family and colleagues, if they recommend something to us, we trust that recommendation.
These are the main forms of social proof and there’s no denying it is something that influences all of us, every single day, which is exactly why it is used in marketing so effectively.
Bridging The Trust Gap
You’re trying to help people with a technique you know works, and your potential clients are searching for somebody trustworthy to help them.
But there is still a gap between you both coming together, and that usually comes from them not having enough of a reason to trust you.
This is especially so for therapy or healthcare practice, because the whole service is personal and revolves around trust.
After all, letting anybody know about your weaknesses, your thoughts and innermost secrets be very difficult, let alone telling them to a stranger. And in the case of physical therapy, they may need to undress…
So what can you do to bridge that trust gap?
Well, celebrity and expert endorsements have helped many therapies become more mainstream, but unless you are lucky enough to attract one, then the next best option is to get client reviews.
Why? Because a review, as we mentioned above, brings together “user” and “crowd” social proof in a way that is the closest thing to a recommendation from family.
Trusted Practitioner is a way to collect confidential, independently verified reviews that allow your skill and effectiveness to shine through as clients share their experience, and as the number of reviews you get increases, this adds to the “wisdom of the crowds”.
The end result is that you make a great first impression with potential clients, and your reviews help to position you as the obvious choice of expert who can really help them.