The following post is from Robin Texeira, an Associate of Wide Angle Communications.
Now that you’ve signed up for a reputation monitoring service, what do you do when you receive your first report?
Read it! Look at your search engine rankings. When consumers search for your hospital are they finding what you want them to find? Your first page of search results should reflect the image you want to spread about your hospital. There are ways to improve your search results. Look into them if you aren’t seeing what you want.
Check any blog comments made about your hospital. There may not be a lot but even one means someone is talking about you. It took only one blogger complaining about his problems with a Dell computer to launch a revolution in Dell’s customer service attitude.
Respond. This is probably the most important thing you can do. A common blog posting I see for hospitals will be from a new parent. They are sharing pictures , bragging about the new baby and in doing so they mention the hospital where the child was born. Find the appropriate person in your hospital — the chief medical officer, chief nursing officer, risk manager, CEO or whomever you think appropriate — and get them to post a comment on the blog. Something as simple as thanks for mentioning us, we’re glad you choose our hospital for the birth of your child and that you had a positive experience with us. That’s it. You don’t have to sell yourself, go into detail or ask questions. It will take five minutes and can end up generating a lot of goodwill for your hospital.
Be prepared. For negative comments, bad search results, no search results. You have a crisis communications plans, right? Does it include how to handle an on-line reputation crisis? It should. You need to know how you’re going to respond if, for example, there were a major medical error at your hospital and someone starts blogging about it.
You may find that little is being said in social media about your hospital. So why bother checking? Why get involved? The benefit of starting a conversation is that it allows you to establish the direction future conversations will follow. One of the best and easiest ways to do this is to start a blog. Get your community talking about you. Start a blog where patients post experiences they have during their hospital stay – good or bad. Start a hospital team blog and let staff share their thoughts on the future of your hospital, the current healthcare situation, whatever strikes their fancy.
Social media in the form we know it today may look entirely different five years from now. But be assured that communication via social media on the Internet will continue to grow and evolve into a phenomenon that will require more and more participation on the part of organizations. The days when you can ignore what your community is saying and figure they need you no matter what are gone.