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Online Patient Reviews: Quality and Consistency Matter!

by Naomi Cooper March 20, 2013

Online Patient Reviews: Quality and Consistency Matter!If you are a regular reader of this blog, you are then well aware of the importance for dentists to establish and maintain an active online presence. More people than ever are turning to the Internet when researching health care options. And in today’s tech-savvy world, patients conduct their research online before they ever call your practice to make their first appointment.

Control the information potential patients find online, and increase the likelihood of them taking the next step in calling you by asking your satisfied patients to post online reviews.

  • Before the Internet, patients would simply ask a friend for a referral and then call to make an appointment. Today, patients may still ask a friend, but they will also go online to research you before they ever make the call to schedule an appointment.
  • Encourage your satisfied customers to write a review on these sites to increase the amount and quality of the positive reviews. The more positive reviews you have, the better your practice will appear to potential patients.
  • While it is important to generate positive reviews online, it absolutely must be done in an authentic manner. Consistently adding 1-3 new reviews each month for 6 months will appear most trustworthy to Internet users and your potential patients. For more information on the level of trust of online reviews among today’s Internet users, check out this EMarketer article.

There is no higher stamp of approval of your practice than the referral of a happy patient. Make the most of their positive experience and politely ask them to share their experience online. Consistently asking patients to post a positive review increases the opportunity to reach prospective patients within your community, and helps you to build an authentic online presence for your dental practice.

How does your team actively ask patients to post online reviews? Are new patients asked upfront how they heard about your practice?

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Social Media 101: Incorporating YouTube into Your Dental Practice Social Media Plan

by Naomi Cooper February 12, 2013

Social Media 101: Incorporating YouTube into Your Dental Practice Social Media PlanYouTube is now the Internet’s second-largest search engine with 2 billion views per day. Including several one- to two minute videos on the practice’s website and YouTube channel can be an effective part of an overall search engine optimization strategy.

The videos play into Google’s algorithmic preference for fresh, relevant content, so your practice website is listed higher in Google searches, helping you to reach a larger audience. Viewers are able to learn firsthand what the atmosphere and culture is like within the practice before ever stepping foot through the door.

How to Set Up a YouTube Account:

  1. Go to www.YouTube.com. If you have a Google account for the practice, log on to YouTube with your Google account information. If the practice does not yet have a Google account, follow the steps to create one.
  2. Complete the Profile (also known as your Channel on YouTube) to include all important information,
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    such as such as address, website, phone number, etc. Consider also including your practice philosophy and/or practice mission statement.

  3. Personalize your Channel by clicking on the Channel Settings link.
  4. Choose your logo or a photo of the dentist to use as the “Avatar”, similar to a profile picture on Facebook.
  5. Upload any practice-related videos you currently have. This could include a video tour of the practice, a brief introduction by the dentist, or a welcome video. Be sure to hold off from using any videos which feature/include patients until you have received in writing from each patient a Release Form. (link/disclaimer)

YouTube Account Best Practices:

  1. Keep your Channel fresh by posting new videos, and do so on a regular basis. Maintaining a schedule and posting consistently at the same time of the week/month will help build your following. Don’t worry about video quality too much – an iPhone or FlipCam video will suffice!
  2. Aim to keep the length of the videos to under 2 minutes. Large brands often post their television commercials on YouTube. Keep this in mind when posting your own videos, and keep the videos short and sweet.
  3. As soon as you upload a new video to your account, be sure to also post links on your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn profiles. This will maximize the reach of the video, while also providing fresh content for these profiles.

Do you have a YouTube channel in place for your dental practice? Why or why not? Please share your thoughts below.

Next up in the Social Media 101 series – Connecting with Patients over Twitter…

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Social Media 101: Utilizing Google+ in Your Dental Practice

by Naomi Cooper February 5, 2013

Social Media 101: Utilizing Google+ in Your Dental PracticeWhile not as prevalent as Facebook, Google+ is another social media site that can work well for dental practices. The usage statistics do not compare to Facebook, but it is still a good idea for businesses to maintain profiles for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes. Google+ profiles are incredible drivers of SEO, so having your dental practice listed within Google+ helps patients easily find you and connect with your practice online.

There is often confusion between the 2 main components of Google+: Google+ pages for business, and Google+ Local pages. Here is a brief breakdown of each:

Google+ Page

A Google+ page is similar to having a Facebook business page. It is your dental practice’s profile within Google, and offers many opportunities to feature videos, share photos and images and create direct inbound links, all of which are very important in boosting your website’s SEO.

A Google+ page is set up in a very similar fashion to Facebook, with cover and profile photos, and an About section where you enter in your business address, phone, website, and other important information. Your Google+ page allows you to post content and share information with those who have followed you.

Google+ Local Page

A Google+ local page is your dental practice’s listing within Google. It is tied to the Google search results as well as to Google maps. Where as it has the same features as a Google+ page (phone number, hours, website, etc.), it also allows patients to write an online review of their experience at your practice. This is a great site to direct your patients to in order to increase your online patient reviews. Google creates a Google+ Local page for every business in the country, but it’s up to you to claim that profile and make sure it’s accurate.

These are the basic differences between the 2 types of business profile pages within the Google universe. You can log on to https://plus.google.com/pages/create to get started.

Do you use Google+ within your dental practice social media plan? Please share your comments and experiences below. And check back here for the next Social Media 101 installment – easy to implement strategies for your dental practice YouTube channel.

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Put the Power of Google to Work for Your Dental Practice

by Naomi Cooper December 5, 2012

Put the Power of Google to Work for Your Dental PracticeOnline Marketing…SEO and Websites…Social Media…

Dental practice marketing sure has changed over the past few years. The Internet, and especially social media, have completely changed the way you promote your practice. For beginners, this can be overwhelming. However it is essential to modernize your marketing techniques in order to grow your practice in this digital age.

The first name you need to understand – Google. At first glance, you may think it is just another search engine. In reality, it is so much more. It is an influential Internet powerhouse, and putting it to work for your dental practice is a smart way to reach new patients.

I recently wrote a guest blog for Sesame Communications on this very topic. I encourage you to take a look and challenge you to leverage the power of Google for your dental practice.

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6 Social Media Sites for Your Dental Practice

by Naomi Cooper September 25, 2012

6 Social Media Sites for Your Dental PracticeSocial media is a hot buzzword in dental marketing. With so many sites out there, many of my clients say they feel overwhelmed with the prospect of using social media as a marketing tool for their dental practices. Once you gain some familiarity, social media becomes a very engaging way of reaching current and prospective patients. Here are 6 of the most popular social media sites you should get to know.

1. Facebook

With over 955 million users, Facebook remains to be the most popular social media site. Many dentists are familiar with Facebook as they use it in their personal lives. However, Facebook can be a great tool for your business as well. Creating a Facebook Business Page for your practice enables you to directly connect with your patients. Upload appropriate images for your cover and profile photos – a professional photo of the doctor, an interior photo of the office, or your logo are all great options – in order to customize your page. Build your audience by asking your patients to Like your page. Uploading photos and video, providing fresh, relevant content on a consistent basis, can help keep your practice on the tops of your patients’ minds.

2. Google+

Launched in the Fall of 2011, Google+ has 250 million registered users and is still growing. Similar to Facebook, you can create a business page on Google+, separate from your personal profile. What makes Google+ a priority is, of course, its affiliation with Google. Building your practice’s Google+ business page offers you many opportunities to feature videos, share photos and images and create direct inbound links, all of which are incredible drivers of search engine optimization. It’s just one more way to help patients easily find you and connect with your practice online.

3. Google+ Local

Google+ Local (formerly known as Google Places) is your practice’s profile page within Google Maps. This profile provides the same opportunities for inbound links, images and video as Google+, and it also includes patient reviews, which can have a huge impact on your word-of-mouth referrals. Google creates a Google+ Local page for every business in the country, but it’s up to you to claim that profile and make sure it’s accurate. Being familiar with your Google+ Local profile also enables you to monitor what your patients are saying about your practice and to highlight these comments (at least the positive ones) through other social media platforms.

4. YouTube

More than sixty hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, and over four billion videos are viewed each day! Dentists around the globe are realizing that offering short videos on their websites and YouTube channels can be an effective part of an overall search engine optimization strategy. The videos on the practice website play into Google’s algorithmic preference for fresh, relevant content so your practice is listed higher on Google searches. And the videos posted directly on YouTube drive YouTube search traffic to the practice website as well.

5. Twitter

What’s unique about Twitter is that every single word you’ve ever tweeted is public and searchable unless it was specifically marked private. That means anyone who happens to be searching for any of the keywords you’re tweeting about will find your tweets. This is an incredible way to build a loyal base of followers, regardless of whether they actually know you or not. And because about half of Americans don’t have a dentist, if your Twitter followers are in your local area, they certainly have the potential to become your patients when they’re ready.

6. Pinterest

Boasting more than 20 million users since it’s start in March 2010, Pinterest is not only social media’s fastest growing site, but it’s also a known hub for the dental practice’s ultimate target demographic: moms. Moms love “pinning” stories, photos and articles to their Pinterest boards. For dentists who have a true general or family practice, and especially for pediatric dentists and orthodontists, Pinterest is the latest addition to the practice’s social media arsenal.

These 6 sites are just some of the opportunities available for you to get started in social media. Find out which ones work best for your practice, and get started!

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your dental practice involved in social media? If yes, what sites have you found work well for you? If no, what is holding you back from engaging? Please share your thoughts below.

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Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Negative Online Reviews

by Naomi Cooper August 15, 2012

Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Negative Online ReviewsEstablishing a presence online for your practice is growing more important every day. It’s a smart and strategic business practice to ask your current patients to give brief testimonials on such sites as Yelp!, Google + Local, Citysearch, Dr. Oogle, and others. This allows potential patients to learn about you before they ever pick up the phone call to make that first appointment.

However, many dentists are hesitant to promote these sites out of fear of receiving a negative review, and the potential damage that could cause to their practice. Be not afraid – in the event you do happen to have an issue arise online, there are several ways of handling the situation which can actually be viewed in a positive light by other consumers who see the interaction.

We’ve all seen it before. You are on Yelp and for every 10 positive comments, there is one negative experience from a disgruntled customer. Unfortunately, this is going to happen to every one at some point. Now, you may not have any irrational patients, but some dentists do. Instead of being frightened by this scenario, view it as an opportunity for transparency between the business and the customer to work through the issue together. Of course you would never want a patient to leave your office feeling anything less than 100% satisfied.

If an unhappy patient ever leaves a less than positive review about your practice, here’s a great system for resolving the issue:

1. Respond in a timely manner. There should be at least one team member in your practice assigned to monitoring the online profiles. Ideally they will notice the less than positive review, and alert the doctor and other necessary team members to the issue in order to investigate what really went wrong.

2. Acknowledge the review publicly. This is where many dentists are most intimidated. Who wants to ever admit they are wrong? The important thing to remember here is that you do not necessarily have to admit any wrongdoing. The truth is, you may not have done anything wrong – perhaps the reviewer was just having a bad day and was feeling overly sensitive. You only need to acknowledge the fact that someone has had a less than perfect experience.

3. Respond Positively. You would never want to discredit the unhappy reviewer – but you can credit yourself! Replying with something as simple as “The team at Minoa Dentistry strives to exceed each patient’s expectations. We are sorry to hear that you had a less than perfect experience. Please call our office at (123) 456-7890 to speak directly with our office manager. We hope to have the opportunity to resolve your issue.” This illustrates your commitment to quality customer service, and provides the opportunity to address the problem with the patient. Ultimately, you may be able to avoid losing that patient all together.

Of course, the unhappy reviewer may be that one totally irrational patient. If you respond in a rational manner, and they continue with the irrational comments, then it is probably best to let that one go. However, from the point of view of a potential patient, it is actually a positive sign to see a business that cares about their customers enough to address the issue and to take the time to try and resolve the issue.

One key component to online reviews which I cannot stress enough – Transparency is absolutely paramount when it comes to online reviews. If you do receive a negative review, do not immediately ask every patient that comes in for the next week to leave positive reviews. It will be totally obvious what is going on, and it will reflect very badly upon your practice.

The best way to counteract a bad review is to build up your positive prophylactic reviews. It is better to be proactive and arm yourself ahead of time. Set a goal for the practice to generate 2 positive reviews a month for a year. This will build a steady stream of positive, and authentic, comments which will help to balance anything less than perfect.

Has your practice experienced any negative online reviews? How were you able to resolve the problem? Please share your expert advice below!