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How to use social media to handle negative patient reviews

Have you looked at yourself in the “internet mirror” lately? Do you like what you see?

When people are researching a doctor or medical specialist, the most common place for the search to begin is on the Internet. Google Search, Yahoo! Search, and Bing are the everyday person’s best friend when it comes to searching for information quickly.

As a physician, consumer online searches can benefit you greatly, but sometimes they can also reveal something detrimental about your practice. Every so often you should look at your ‘reflection’ on the internet and address what you don’t like!

Use social media and the Internet as a mirror to see what others think of you

Know where to look

Research your name and practice name on different search engines to see what is being said about you. Search engines will point to the same blog posts, articles or reference listings, but typing your name several different ways will help you identify various perspectives about you or your brand. Remember, you want to manage your online reputation and ensure that it is as accurate as possible.

Review your own report card frequently

Make yourself available on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and at least once a day take the time to see what other people have written on your social profiles. This will give you the opportunity to respond to any negative issues in a timely manner.

Be sure to reply to positive comments as well. You can use free tools such as Hootsuite, Google Alerts and SocialMention to monitor what others are saying about you.

Respond quickly

Be sure not only to update your social profiles often, but also to check back regularly in case someone has responded to one of your updates.

When others take the time to ‘talk to you’ on your Facebook Wall or on Twitter, it is very frustrating for them not to receive a response. Responding quickly will help you to take control of a negative conversation and perhaps even turn things around.

Keep your tone caring

If you do come across a negative post, keep your tone concerned and directed to the issue at hand. Let the offended person know that you are doing everything you can to correct the situation, and to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But don’t stop with a “sorry” statement.  Follow it up with a short explanation of your plan of action.

Be transparent

Let others see that you’re working to resolve someone else’s problem. It shows that you’re not afraid of criticism and that you are transparent and honest. However if the negativity escalates, you should take that conversation off-line and deal with the offended person directly either via email, telephone, Skype or some other one-to-one channel rather than a one-to-many channel.

But whether online or in person, courtesy and empathy are vital ingredients to a successful brand reputation management.

Key Take away

With more and more people looking online for information about physicians and their practices, it is important for health professionals to be aware of what is being said about them online. Whether positive or negative, physicians have a great opportunity to use social media not only to participate in social conversations, but to influence how others perceive you and your practice.

Over to you: Have you used social media to respond to negative patient reviews? If so, what was the outcome of your effort. Please share your experience in the comment box below.

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