noise healthcare online repToday’s healthcare consumerism is fueled by the ready availability of negative reviews, widely covered medical errors, the inadvertent (or intentional) sharing of misinformation, political or religious bias and unfavorable survey results. Any one of these can impact your healthcare organization’s reputation. Therefore, reputation management is no longer something hospitals, systems or group practices can afford to overlook.Reputation management is the practice of attempting to shape public perception about an entity or person by influencing information available in the public domain. Long a component of most organization’s public relations activity, reputation management has become a critical Marketing Department responsibility. The growth of the Internet, social media, the immediacy of search engine results and the ease of sharing opinions via posts, emails and blogs represents a significant challenge to those who defend and enhance a healthcare organization’s image.Reputation management now exists under two areas of responsibility: online and offline reputation management of which we’ll address online this week. These are not stand-alone growth strategies. In fact, reputation management is most effective when coupled with coordinated online and offline marketing efforts. Savvy marketers know that both become more successful when an already established favorable reputation exists in one domain can influence perceptions in the other.

The growth of the Internet, social media, the immediacy of search engine results and the ease of sharing opinions via posts, emails and blogs represents a significant challenge to those who defend and enhance a healthcare organization’s image.

Online reputation management focuses on search results for products and services within the digital space. Marketers carefully craft frequent social media messages and encourage discussion, feedback and affirmations of exceptional services, care or technology. These promotions are helpful in generating brand awareness.

Social media strategies are a double-edged sword, however, when negative comments impact your reputation, brand and finances. Monitoring these inputs is essential.

The article 5 Best Practices for Online Reputation Management offers these suggestions for marketers.

  1. Continuously monitor all platforms and respond quickly. Timeliness is everything and it also shows authenticity that your business cares and has concern for its customers.
  2. Have a dedicated employee as your responder. This person is responsible for monitoring and engaging with your audiences – both with positive comments and especially negative posts or reviews.
  3. Always keep responses positive, authentic and concise. Thank your customers for positive comments and bring negative conversations offline by having them contact your dedicated responder directly.
  4. Listen and engage. By truly hearing your customer out and showing genuine interest in their opinions and experience, you may often resolve the issue without further action.
  5. Never delete negative comments or postings. Business transparency is demanded in today’s digital world and showing the timeliness of your response goes a long way in offsetting any negative comments or reviews.

james shulkin noiseAt NOISE, we bring more than 60 years of healthcare expertise to your benefit  — from both sides of the strategic and branding desk. Interested? Email Chief Brand Officer of Healthcare James Shulkin here or talk to the real deal at 239.395.9555 (x9).

James is a regular contributor to communications created by the Wisconsin Healthcare Public Relations & Marketing Society. This article is excerpted from his original essay here.