“Reputation management is the practice of building, preserving and rectifying the public’s perception of your integrative clinic or enterprise.”
In today’s über-connected world with its crawling social media channels, blogs, chat rooms and physician rating websites, there’s just no good excuse for failing to monitor and manage your online reputation. That includes the auto-default excuse: I’m too busy.
Slow to Build, Quick to Tarnish
Left unattended, your online reputation can negatively impact the personal brand you’ve worked so long and hard to create as a caring, respected healer. Of course, this is detrimental to the overall health of your practice. Especially true for medical practitioners, word of mouth has always been the most important source of quality referrals for any business, regardless of category or sector.
Social media and various platforms such as rating sites and business directories have made it easier than ever for word of mouth recommendations or warnings to spread about your practice or enterprise.
The majority of today’s consumers are influenced more by peers and online communities than any amount of advertising and marketing that a business might push on them. And online business directory sites, plus review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, Google Places and Yahoo Local are now as important to monitor as top physician ratings sites like RateMD, Healthgrades and Vitals.
There’s never been a more critical time to fully assess your online reputation and develop a proactive strategy. So let’s get started.
Track Who’s Tracking You
Using Google and Yahoo, search your name and organization’s name. Go through several pages of search results and click on every rating and directory website you find. Capture and organize within a document or spreadsheet the name of each service, the URL and summarize your findings, i.e., amount of reviewers and commenters, overall quality of ratings. Importantly, check the accuracy of your clinic or enterprise’s basic information.
Social Listening Supports Reputation Tracking
Just like at dinner parties, local high school football games or other social settings, people are talking about all sorts of things, including professional service providers. Think about all the things you’ve heard in direct conversation or perhaps overheard in social settings during the last year alone.
Your online reputation can also be proactively monitored and tracked by careful listening. And, in this virtual social setting you will never be accused of snooping!
Here are a few terrific and free tools to set up today:
- Google Alerts Easy to set up, Google Alerts feed you information from the Web matching your chosen set of keywords (i.e., you name, clinic, town, etc.)
- HootSuite With its intuitive interface, HootSuite allows you to manage up to five social networks for free, using their easy-to-use dashboard with built-in listening features using search.
- Social Mention This simple to use service is a real-time search and analysis aggregator of user-generated content from across the Web that’s delivered into a single stream.There are a lot more sophisticated monitoring tools to consider, but they’re often paid services requiring varying levels of skill to manage.
Now’s the Best Time to Create Social Media Profiles for Your Organization!
You’re busy and I know how difficult it is to keep on top of all this social media stuff. With technology evolving so quickly, it just boggles the mind. I spend no less than an hour a day reading about social media and even more time managing FON’s social platforms.
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While you don’t have to start out being super active with any of the core social platforms you choose to create profiles, you do need to closely monitor your brand and reputation which is challenging without a basic understanding of how these social channels work.
My business is primarily B2B, and I prefer LinkedIn, Twitter, Slideshare and Google+ for my core social channels. I am not active on Facebook, having found it not useful as a lead for business in the past. LinkedIn is by far my favorite social network for doing business.
Social is best for sharing, engaging and listening. So if you want to monitor your brand, you will need to create the necessary profiles for responding to direct comments and chatter.
Gorilla Smear Campaigns and Bogus Reviews Running Rampant!
An additional one star rating on Yelp can boost an organization’s revenues significantly, and has spawned a cottage industry of “reputation management” companies and unsavory practices.
There’s ugly stuff going on with companies across business sectors posting fraudulent negative reviews about their competitors and fake positive reviews about themselves.
Moreover, scores of “reputation management” companies are hiring teams of “reviewers” who get paid (by the post) for writing gushing reviews on behalf of their clients. Yelp recently stepped up its legal action against several individuals and companies trying to game their system.
Even more troubling is the growing chorus of business owners who feel that Yelp often unfairly suppresses positive reviews to force their hands to pay for advertising services.
Address Negative Comments Promptly and Responsibly
When your social monitoring efforts reveal negative comments about you or your integrative health organization, turn it into a positive by responding promptly and directly. Focus on the poster’s complaint and see if it can be rectified quickly. Let’s say the complaint relates to waiting time or a receptionist’s attitude, apologize quickly, thank the poster for letting you know, mention that this is not the norm and that wait times and staff courtesy is very important and under review.
Inevitably, there will be times when a really upset poster cannot be consoled and may want to belligerently air things out online. Do not feed into this. Rather, offer to speak with the person directly, offline.
There are times when it’ll be difficult to confirm that the negative reviewer was ever seen in your clinic as a patient! Folks use all sorts of aliases, including “anonymous”, making it incredibly frustrating to reconcile legitimate complaints.
Bottom line: React to commenters on these ratings sites professionally and without delay just like you would to comments monitored on your own social media profiles across the Web. This process should be treated no differently than grievances posed by patients in your own office.
Encourage Positive Feedback and Reviews
Making it easy for patients to post reviews on the ratings sites about the good service you provide is smart. Yelp and other review sites provide stickers that can be strategically placed on your website to remind patrons to share their positive experiences.
You can make this process even more seamless for your customers by including linked Web buttons to various ratings sites from your website. Some practices even link their Yelp ratings from their home page, like San Francisco Acupuncture Group. Click on “what patients think of my work” next to the provider name and it takes you directly to their Yelp listing.
Yelp’s algorithm is designed to filter out fake reviews posted by business owners, their families and friends. I’ve also heard numerous complaints about legitimate positive reviews being suppressed. This may be caused in-part by posters who are not regular “Yelpers”. So you want to focus on carefully encouraging satisfied customers across the major ratings sites, not just Yelpers, to contribute reviews.
- It’s imperative to actively monitor your online reputation by setting monitoring (listening) tools.
- Due diligence is required to identify and track the major ratings sites that include your practice or business. (add new profiles as necessary)
- Social networks most relevant to your business should be monitored; set up accounts to best monitor conversations around your brand.
- Respond to both negative and positive commenters promptly and skillfully.
- Carefully encourage positive customer reviews.
FON is a leading integrative health and medicine business development and strategy consulting firm. FON specializes in custom solutions for growing patient volume, developing programs, and increasing product sales. Our practical business models are driven by innovative marketing, clear messaging, and customer engagement via branded storytelling.
Contact us today to schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your business development or personal brand needs.