I suspect that once we get past the age of eleven, there are very few of us who actually enjoy having our photograph taken. Conversely, how fascinating is it to look up pictures of long forgotten ‘chums’ on Facebook?
Yep, people pictures are oddly mesmerising, and I bet, like me, you can’t help but do a little bit of ‘visage gawping’ every now and then.
If you’re a patient looking to seek an opinion or treatment with a clinician, one of the first things you are likely to do, is look at the ‘about page’ on the clinician’s website.
Here’s where it all gets a bit, well, shallow.
You might think that the patient is carefully studying the lengthy list of internationally published research papers, but evidence shows that this isn’t the case. Eye tracking heat map studies of websites, show that patients are just as fickle as we are. At least 20% of their time will be spent admiring your picture.
In other words, everyone wants to know what the person they will be dealing with looks like.
Even more compelling, however, is data from LinkedIn. This shows that if your profile picture doesn’t contain a photo, it is seven times less likely to be viewed, than one that does.
Why is this?
Pictures make us human, relatable and here comes the over used buzz word…. ‘Authentic.’
Even though first impressions are unreliable, somehow, we can’t resist trying to ‘suss out’ what someone is all about, from their visual appearance.
Your name and bio is insufficient to make you memorable.
Interestingly, when little headshot photos are used in the sign-off in emails, it makes the recipient more likely to respond. It’s a ‘putting a name to a face’ kind of thing.
Your private practice website needs to have a picture of you in it; in fact, lots of pictures of you in it.
In particular, your beaming baby face needs to light up the home page. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and most certainly your email sign-off, need the same treatment.
Sounds terrifying, doesn’t it?
As a teenager, I was so photo-adverse, that my only appearances in family snap shots were ones with my jumper pulled over my head, my hands pretending to shield me from a non-existent flash, or, (my personal favourite), hiding behind our large St Bernard. (Maybe it didn’t help that my mum insisted on calling me her little ‘fish face’ when she pulled out her Leica).
Here is how you make it less painful…..
Hire a great headshot photographer. This doesn’t have to be expensive at all. Unless you are the equivalent of David Bailey with a selfie stick, you are better of paying an expert to bring out your ‘best side’.
You should to be the only person featuring in your picture, and you need to be wearing something that is appropriate for your clinical role. This means you shouldn’t be wearing a wedding dress, ball gown, or your precious Marathon des Sables victory t-shirt.
Remember to smile. Whether you’re an oncologist, psychiatrist, pain expert or somebody who deals in piles, it’s absolutely ok to smile. A good photographer will help you to appear ‘warm and approachable’ rather than ‘overly excited spaniel’.
Don’t hide behind a logo image, even if you are part of a bigger organisation. People do business with people, not a ‘swooshy tick’.
Sign up to Gravatar.com. A wonderful way to make more referral connections, is to read and contribute to other people’s stuff. Have you ever noticed in the comments feed of some blog posts, there is a little picture alongside the comment that was left? Chances are, that person had signed up to Gravatar.com. A ‘Gravatar’ (forgive the cheese) is a Globally Recognised Avatar. (Not those blue and stripy alien folk).
Gravatar.com enables you to make a tiny transportable profile and picture, which cleverly follows you around on the internet. If you post a comment on a blog site that Gravatar.com is activated on, (which is pretty much most WordPress websites), then people reading your comments will see a picture of you. In addition to this, they will be able to click on your photo and learn more about you, through links to your website, a short bio and your social media profiles.
Setting up Gravatar.com takes about eight minutes, (I timed it!). All you will need is a decent photo (from that decent photographer).
Using Gravatar.com can help send patient and referral traffic to your website, and your readers will start to feel that they know you better, because they are literally seeing you on the internet.
A few well captured images from a professional photographer will cost as little as two to three hundred pounds. It’s so worth someone’s expertise (air brushing skills) to get a classy set of photos that you can use across all of your online presence.
So, shoulders back, slap on a smile, and watch the birdie. Even if your Mum thinks you’ve a face like a fish ; )
Sometimes, we all need a little extra help in building our practices – from a business perspective, as well as a clinical one.
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