Creating the Online Reputation Management Plan That’s Right for You
Despite the fact that 81% of Americans use social media, across all industries, the majority of companies and healthcare systems don’t take advantage of their online reputation as a means to attract more business.
The truth is, creating an online reputation management plan is one of the first and most important steps to take when setting your business up for long-term success. Gone are the days of physical Yellow Pages ads (though some people do still prefer to place at least one ad in physical outlet).
Deciding what’s right for you
There isn’t a one-size-fits all approach to online reputation management. The truth is that it may take some trial and error to find which platforms best reach your target audience and which platforms best reach your current base, as the two may be different.
Whenever a new, trendy social media platform arises, like Snapchat, many people tend to flock there in hopes of finding a treasure trove of people interested in interacting with your business or medical practice. However, it’s important to research how and why a platform could be helpful to you, if at all.
Your reputation is the foundation of your business, so it’s important that all business owners and medical professionals alike understand the weight of this. As more and more people are stepping away from word-of-mouth referrals, or at least putting equal trust in reading online reviews as a secondary step, it’s important to consider the online aspect of your reputation.
What is an online reputation management plan?
In a nutshell, an online reputation management plan, for both traditional businesses and medical practices or hospitals, is a strategy that allows for a designated person or team to monitor, promote, and respond to reviews that are acquired on specific review websites.
Some review platforms are more general, such as Yelp or Google, while others may be more specific to a certain industry, like Vitals for the medical field or DealerRater for the auto industry.
When executing your online reputation management plan, you will want to do four things: claim each of your businesses (or practice and individual doctor) profiles to ensure that the information is correct and that no one can access your account maliciously, promote reviews by soliciting them from your current (and past) clientele, respond to reviews that were already left on your profiles, and continue to monitor these profiles for future reviews. By responding with a thank you to each review, you are setting up a precedent of good communication in the minds of prospective clients or patients who are doing their research online and who have come across your profiles in their search.
By simply asking a person to leave a review before they walk out of your door, their chances o leaving that review rise to almost 90%. Without asking, you are leaving that potential review up to the discretion of a person’s memory and time. By implementing an online reputation management strategy and training staff on the proper methods to ask for reviews, you should be able to increase the rating of your business and manage your reputation properly.
Platforms You Should Consider
As we mentioned before, there isn’t a one-size-fits all, foolproof method to managing your reputation online. For some business owners and medical professionals, managing it all themselves is easy. Setting aside scheduled times to log in and out of all of their review platform profiles is just another thing to check off of their list. For others, time is of the essence and they require a team to do their reputation management for them or at least implement a tool that allows them easy, clear access to their profiles and reviews. In some cases, these tools allow users to respond to any review that was left on their profile, offer central dashboards filled with useful data and information, and even allow users to send out texts checking in with clients and patients to route them toward a designated review site.
No matter the route you pick, there are some heavy-hitters in the world of online reviews that you’ll want to make sure you pay attention to.
It’s unlikely that you’ll run into someone who doesn’t know what Facebook is, let alone someone who doesn’t have an account of their own. As the most popular social media platform, Facebook has leveraged their giant user base to offer businesses multiple options when it comes to setting up their own pages and advertising campaigns directly linked to Facebook.
Business profiles on Facebook, which includes profiles for individual doctors as much as they do car dealerships themselves, allow Facebook users to access a central point when it comes to interacting with a business or individual professional. Information like address, phone numbers, and open hours are all available on Facebook business profiles.
Additionally, users are able to directly message a business through Facebook, which also advertises your typical response time. Businesses who have a response time of under 1 hour enjoy the benefits of a quick line of communication with potential clients by answering their questions or concerns quickly, before the client runs out of time or patience and moves onto another company.
Facebook also offers a review system, making it a business review platform that’s a must for all industries. Much like many other review sites, Facebook allows users to rate businesses on a 1-5-star scale and leave a review with details about their experience. Users can even share their review onto their personal profiles for friends and family to see.
Google My Business
Google is the most popular search engine, giving it tremendous power (and budget) to expand their services and gear their algorithms to display Google-based information first. It’s for these reasons that all businesses should be an active participant with Google.
Popular tools, like Google Maps, also play into Google’s review platform. Businesses with claimed Google My Business profiles, who also have a few reviews under their belt, are eligible to appear on Google’s “Local 3 Pack” on Google Maps, which is the information box containing a map and top-rated businesses that appears before the search results themselves appear on the page.
Google’s location-based searching enables local businesses to capitalize on their past clientele’s experiences to increase their online reviews and reputation, thus bettering their chances of appearing high up on the search results page both on computer and mobile views.
As one of Google’s more popular rivals, Bing is another major review platform that professionals should take advantage of. Similarly to Google, Bing allows businesses to claim their profiles, add or correct any information that exists on that profile, and accumulate reviews to increase their rating and rankings.
When developing a strong online reputation management strategy, it’s important to keep in mind that you don’t want to just claim and develop your profiles on one or two websites. By adding Bing to your strategy, you are acquiring an entire new audience-base who doesn’t use Google to find their next hotel, dealership, hospital, or doctor.
Major websites like Google, Facebook, and Bing are excellent for developing a solid foundation for your online reputation across general platforms which people may use to search for businesses. However, it’s important for every business owner or practice manager to consider their industry or specific vertical and find review websites that fit into these categories.
DealerRater, Oyster, and Vitals are all examples of industry-specific review platforms that target car dealerships, hotels, and the medical field, respectively. When you’re putting together your reputation management strategy, you want to ensure that these types of profiles are on your radar actively, which requires you to claim as many profiles as possible, make sure the information on them is correct, and reviews to actively be routed to these websites.