Neophobia – the fear of anything new.
Sometimes I wonder if health care practitioners able to diagnose neophobia also suffer from it when it comes to online brand engagement. The mantra of many is that they don’t need to worry about their online reputation because what they’ve been doing to attract new patients has always worked in the past.
But these new communication tools – online review sites, social media, search engine optimization, paid search – aren’t going away. The companies embracing online avenues are pulling up and away from those that aren’t. And adopting now means you have the opportunity to influence and shape how the health care industry interacts with online users.
Not sure how to get started? Here are some quick tips:
1) Learn the basics. Monitoring the entire internet for mentions of your company can seem daunting, but there are several free tools to help keep you organized. For example, Hootsuite allows you to monitor all your social channels on one screen and schedule posts when it’s convenient for you, and by setting up Google Alerts for your company, you’ll get email notifications when the search engine finds new results on your keywords.
2) Know what’s out there. The only way you can respond to customer service issues and make improvements is to know what your patients are saying about you. More and more, patients are turning to online forums to voice their concerns, and awareness is the first step in turning a negative into a positive.
4) Don’t go down the rabbit hole. There will be negative comments. Let that sink in. There will be negative comments and it is okay. Online users are smart enough to know not all online posts are factual, and there are at least two sides to every story. What’s really important is not engaging in a digital argument with the negative commenter. Trust me – no matter how good your comebacks are, you will not win.
5) Defend with key messages. Even though we don’t recommend engaging with negative users, that doesn’t mean you can’t speak on behalf of your practice. Respond to the public at large and include positive key messages that explain your philosophy and what sets you apart from others. Just be sure what you say online matches reality. You don’t want to be caught making online promises you can’t keep in person.
6) Make it easy for your biggest fans. We all know unhappy patients are much more likely to post online than happy ones. To ensure your online reputation more accurately reflects your real rant-to-rave ratio, encourage your satisfied customers to post reviews online.
The only thing to fear about online engagement is if you choose not to participate, people will still comment the good, the bad and the ugly. Seize the opportunity to influence the conversation.