Key Concepts When Managing a Digital or Online Reputation:
1. You cannot control what people are saying about you or your business: However, by providing superior service and high quality care, you can INFLUENCE how people see you and your practice. Digital reputations can make or break practices and physicians in the highly competitive medical market of today. Bottom line: Practice good medicine, treat all patients with compassion and respect. YOU are in control of the care you provide.
2. You have 100% Control of the online story YOU create: It has often been said in sports and in war that “the best defense is a good offense”. Never has that been more true than in managing an online reputation. It is imperative that physicians create an ACTIVE social media presence now. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube are wonderful outlets in which you can showcase who you are and what you represent. I believe that creating and maintaining an active blog is essential to the development of an effective online reputation. Blogging allows you to publish your thoughts and opinions, makes YOU the expert and allows readers to get a sense of who you are and what values you hold close. If you do not create your own story you remain at the mercy of what others say and create digitally about you–much of which may not be true. In addition, be careful about what you post on personal social media sites. Patients can get access to data that you may not want them to see. A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t want your mother to see something, don’t post it!
Strategies to Create and Manage the Optimal Online Reputation:
1. Start with a professional website: The website should serve as the hub of all of your online activities. It should be professionally designed with your specific clientele in mind. The site should link to your other online activities such as your twitter feed, your linkedin profile, your blog and your professional facebook page. The website should highlight what you want your patients and potential customers to know about you. My website is a good example and can be found at http://www.DrKevinCampbellMD.com
2. Respond to Comments: If comments are left on a blog or on a MD review website, try to respond in a compassionate thoughtful way. Suggest alternative points of view and possible solutions in a respectful, calm and thoughtful manner. Always take other opinions into consideration and do not just dismiss them as incorrect or irrelevant. Your responses give you a chance to present another side of the story without confrontation. If you are dealing with a patient complaint, try to identify the patient and have your practice administrator contact them through the practice privately in order to deal with their concerns. Often, patients and customers who do complain want recognition and to know that they matter and that we care.
3. Remain Diverse and Don’t Get Stale: When developing and managing an online reputation, diversity is key. Don’t just focus on one outlet such as twitter or Facebook. Search engines such as Google are constantly updating how they “hit” and by spreading your presence over several social media networking outlets and frequently updating your website and blog you increase your visibility. Make sure you have an ACTIVE presence on several different types of sites. Frequent updates are critical to success.
4. Engage in online communities: Participation in websites that are “patient communities” is very important. Your involvement in patient led forums and groups keeps you grounded and allows you to better understand what is important to patients with a particular disorder or disease. For me, involvement and participation in the “ICD Users Group” has been a wonderful learning experience and has helped me improve the way I approach ICD patients in my practice. In addition, participation in professional online communities can help to boost your online reputation and increase your recognition as an “Expert”.