Based on a 2016 Nielsen study, more than 80 percent of Americans seek recommendations when making a purchase of any kind. Aren’t you more likely to choose a restaurant that has five stars than one that has one star or has no web presence at all? Why should it be any different for people choosing a medical provider?
We are in an era where people seeking answers go directly to the web, so you don’t want to miss out on this exposure. Having an online presence is extremely important in your practice being found and showcasing the positive treatment your patients receive.
Online social marketing tools to build up your patient reviews include Google, the Better Business Bureau, Yelp, Facebook, Healthgrades, etc. Choose one that makes sense for your business and focus on it. Just having a page or a presence is not enough; you must manage this presence and keep the content active, interactive, and up to date. A November 2017 data release from Facebook stated they have over 2 billion monthly active users. Thus, having a company Facebook page is great. But if you have not posted an update in six months, it may actually be hurting your company exposure.
A Yelp.com fact sheet reports that Yelp receives over 140 million visitors per month from their mobile app or their website, and 6 percent of the reviews they receive are under the category of health. However, there are some things you should now to effectively manage your exposure on Yelp. You do not have to set up your Yelp business page to receive a review; a customer can do this for you, whether he or she is happy or dissatisfied, and Yelp will not notify you. The best way to manage your business on Yelp is to claim it yourself. Then you can add photos of your practice, home page content from the practice’s website, and most importantly, you can see how others review your business. This will allow you to actively manage your content and feedback.
It is imperative to manage your online presence, your social media pages, their contents, and patient or potential patient interactions just like anything else in your business. It is not enough to simply create an online presence; it must be updated and nurtured. Keep in mind that it is just as easy to get negative feedback as it is to get positive feedback. And, while businesses can dispute negative reviews on Yelp, you cannot manage your online reputation if you are not engaging.
One strategy to successfully promote a positive online presence is by providing a take-away sheet with easy, step-by-step directions about how to leave an online review. You can even send an email with directions and links to the site where you’d like your reviews to appear. You could also set up a computer in your lobby to give your patients the option to provide a review before they leave your facility.
Ask your employees to help, and make sure they are on the lookout for the happiest patients. Staff can hand out the take-away sheets or make a list of happy patients to follow up with by email. Remember, your clients are looking at reviews, so you should be too.
Erin Cammarata is president and owner of CBS Medical Billing and Consulting. She can be contacted at [email protected].