Do you know what your patients are saying about your dental practice online? How about ex-employees or your competitors? Who is singing your praises or who is running your name through the mud? Either way, you want to be aware of it. Why Online Reputation Management Matters
Good reputations are not built overnight. My experience is that it takes a time and money to establish a dental practice’s good name and community goodwill. The frightening reality is that it’s comparatively simple for someone to destroy your reputation permanently online. Just one comment or bad review on a blog or website by a disgruntled former employee, ex-patient, or competitor can be enough to make people suspicious.
So, if your online reputation matters to you, we recommend nominating someone on your team to manage your online reputation.
What is Online Reputation Management (ORM)
Monitoring the status of your brand (or name), evaluating the online conversation about your brand, and taking deliberate steps to mitigate potential damage to your brand. You can think of ORM as a three-step process:
1. Monitor – Maintain an ongoing system for researching and keeping track of public perception.
2. Analyze – Consider individual feedback, as well as the source, outlet, reach and timing, to come to a decision about the risk of the comments.
3. Influence – Comment, rebut, draft a formal response or simply ignore what has been said, based on your online reputation manager’s evaluation
5 Tips for Effective Online Reputation Management
1. Assume that everything will find its way online – Don’t assume that anything you say or do will be kept private. Simply assume that it will be published somewhere online and potentially available to billions of people. It is more important than ever to not just “Talk the Talk” but to “Walk your Talk”.
2. Set up Automatic Alerts – Set up automatic alerts to notify you when your practice is mentioned on a review site, social network, blog, etc. Google Alerts is my favorite FREE tool for this purpose. Google Alerts will e-mail you (at a frequency determined by you) anytime your practice is mentioned online. I personally use Google Alerts for MOSAIC Management Group and for my name personally and I highly recommend it.
3. Maximize positive references to your practice online – The more positive references to your practice online, the more insignificant the negative references will become. The average rating concept. A few examples of how you might increase your positive references online include: encouraging online testimonials or reviews of the patient experience (for those that have demand force, lighthouse plz or the like this is easily done for you), engaging with patients and potential patients on social networks (do you have your facebook fan page yet?) submitting press releases, running contests, working with charities, being involved in your community and posting it on your facebook page or your blog etc. Doing any of these things will naturally create new positive references to you online. Some can be overwhelmed with the idea of posting to all these places, I am using a company called posterous to do this for me. I highly recommend this as well. Check it out at http://posterous.com
4. Respond to positive & negative feedback – Whenever possible, and wherever it makes sense, make it a point to respond to both negative and positive feedback online. The goal in doing this is to show your commitment to patient satisfaction. However, be particularly careful when responding to negative feedback. Do evaluate the situation before responding, but be prompt when the situation warrants it. Remain calm, be honest and always take the high ground in all interactions with the offender. This should help you to diffuse the situation before it gets out of hand. Check out Yelp! for more tips on responding to positive and negative feedback online.
5. Don’t Mix Business and Personal profiles – Avoid mixing personal and practice profiles on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Social networking sites like these are great for building relationships with people. Befriend those on your personal page that are personal friends, have them become fans of your practice. Have a personal Twitter account and a professional twitter account if you must, but keep them separate.
All of us use the internet to find out about products, services and pricing. In the short term none of this new method of finding companies to work with is going away. It is the new wave of marketing, and it is currently free!! We encourage you to participate, be sensible and aware. Assign someone on your team to be your online reputation manager and to be accountable for checking what is being said about you and your practice.