Easy ways to master Facebook, Google, and More
Want to hear the honest truth?
The way your practice looks online is the single largest deciding factor that determines if a patient will walk into your office or not. Ninety-two percent of patients now read reviews online and 80 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. It really is a big deal. So where are people looking to find info about you? Where is your practice reputation most at risk? The most common sources of feedback are sites like Facebook, Google, and Yelp.
Facebook alone reported that after the first quarter of 2017 they had almost 2 billion users. That’s right. Billion. Add in Google, Twitter, and other review sites and the numbers are mind blowing. With such a large audience at your disposal, it’s essential to make sure your practice is not only active online but that you are showing a level of engagement and value to attract viewers. Online reviews can help your practice grow and thrive.
We know that developing a strong online presence can seem a bit daunting. A wise man once said, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” The same is true with your online presence. Start with step one. Take some time to make sure that step is running well and then move on to the next step. One day at a time, you’ll get a little closer to looking amazing online.
Step #1: Master Facebook
With just under 4 billion daily users on the internet, it feels overwhelming enough managing a website, let alone jumping into the high-speed stream of social media. It may seem easier to put a wall up in front of your practice and shut the crowds out. But for today’s modern provider, a strong online presence is not just nice, but essential to the management of your patients and practice.
The most effective way to start is with Facebook. Facebook is everywhere—with almost 2 billion daily users. Having a Facebook Business page should be considered an essential element of any healthcare marketing plan. It’s a no-brainer.
From your Facebook page, you can post a large variety of content, link directly to your site, send and receive messages, allow patients to schedule appointments, have online reviews, network with others in your industry, and so much more.
If you already have a Facebook page for your practice, good for you! Simply review each of the steps below and make sure your Facebook page is following best practices.
Let’s start with the basics:
- Create a Business Page: One of the most common mistakes practices make when setting up their Facebook account is creating a profile for their practice, instead of creating a page. What is the difference between a profile and a page? A profile is used for individual people while a page is used for businesses. When you create a profile, users have to become friends with your practice in order to connect and engage. With a page, users are able to simply like your page, allowing them to engage more easily. A page also includes a menu that allows your patients to learn about your practice, see photos and videos, upcoming events, reviews, and posts.
- Page Username: After you first sign up for Facebook, you will need to put in the name of your practice and pick a username. Your username should be three things: simple, easy, and searchable. Keep your username as similar to the practice name as possible so that your current patients, and those searching for you, can locate you or tag you on Facebook easily.
- Profile/Cover Photo: You can ask anyone—the first thing that most people see when they go to a Facebook page is the profile/cover photo. If you go with a graphic image, quality is always more important that quantity. Make sure it is a high enough resolution to look good. If you do go with a photo of your practice or staff, then 60 percent of the photo should be of your subject. Be aware of the message your graphic or photo might send and stay professional, but have some fun too!
- Content is King: Sound familiar? This phrase, first coined by Bill Gates in 1996, is the law by which the social media world is ruled. Your content carries messaging, your brand, the ability to connect with an audience, and should be a large priority of your page. Don’t be afraid to try different forms of content (variation is exciting!) and try out the tools Facebook offers to help schedule and create content right inside your page. One popular new form of communication on Facebook is Facebook Live. Check out the Solutionreach Facebook page for our most recent Facebook Live video to see this new form of content creation. See here: https://www.facebook.com/Solutionreach/
- Network: Let your current patients know your page is up, invite them to follow and like your page, and to share your page with others. Find others in your industry to network with. By creating partnerships and connecting to the pages of other practices, they will do the same for you. Together you can help each other grow your audience and exposure.
- Engage: Humanize your page by responding to reviews with a friendly, professional voice. Always respond to comments, ask questions in your posts, run contests, post trivia, video, and get creative. Reach out past the barrier of the screen and connect with the person on the other side.
Step #2: Know your Google Places
Google is ubiquitous (that’s just a nerdy way of saying it’s everywhere!). We “Google” everything these days. It is the go-to place to find whatever we need. So, it’s important that you have up-to-date information on Google for your practice. With just a small bit of effort you can update your practice info, link to a map, and show patient reviews.
Just to be clear, we are referring here to your Google listing—sometimes called Google Places—which is the tool that actually shows your practice on the map along with things like your website, hours, and photos of your office. Once you have this listing set up, you can look at also doing Google+, which is a social media and sharing tool.
Ready to get started?
Go to google.com/business and click on “Google My Business.” Enter your practice name. If it is already listed, select it. If it isn’t there, enter your practice name, and click “Add.” Then click “Next.”
You’ll need to verify who you are. Google wants to be sure you have the authorization to set up or update this business. You can click “Verify by Phone.” If you can’t use this for some reason, you can choose the postcard option.
When you have authorized your account, you can review and update your listing. Make sure all the information is accurate. Check your address, phone, and website as well as your hours. Be sure to add photos of your office. When you are done, click “Done Editing.”
Here’s what it should look like when it’s done:
It’s that easy! Now when someone is searching for you or for a practice like yours, they will get your up-to-date listing with all the information they need to connect with your practice.
Having an up-to-date listing will also allow you to send happy patients to Google to leave reviews. Nearly 85 percent of patients now use online reviews to find a new provider. So, having positive reviews on sites like Google is critical.
Here’s what it should look like when it’s done:
Step #3: Become a Google+ Guru
Google Plus who?
The lack of conversation surrounding the social platform released by Google in 2011 often causes the average person to wonder “Google+ who?” when they hear it mentioned. Even with the domination of social media in the everyday lives of the average person, Google+ appears to be the platform still living in the dark...or at least it seems that way.
So let’s shed some light on why your practice should have a presence on Google+ and what makes Google+ different than the other platforms out there.
The Why for Google+
Why Google+? It is actually quite simple. Google+ has 198 million active users, and is available to over 4 billion users who use other Google tools. The potential of reach and connection is almost endless. With the ability to reach just the active users, why wouldn’t you want to use Google+?
It is more than just numbers though...Google+ offers three unique features that make it stand out from the other platforms. These features are Google + Circles, Communities, and Collections.
Google + Circles
In November of 2015, Google rolled out a quiet update to their social platform. Although they kept the already known feature of “circles," they made some big changes to how this feature could be used. Before the update, a circle was created to sort your contacts in a very simple way, more of an organization tool. Now circles are used to create networks, and define your audience. You can have a contact in multiple circles, make public or keep private, target them with specific content and updates, change settings within a circle for the circle alone, and even do live video streaming with one specific group at a time. Circles is a great way to customize your Google Plus experience for sharing and receiving information.
Google + Communities
A new feature with the update is that of Communities. In social media one of the primary goals is to create a community where the participants help each other progress. Centered around a topic, product, location, etc., this feature allows your practice to be in the role of moderator as the members discuss, exchange ideas, and share information under the umbrella of the subject of the community. Communities can be public or private, allowing you to create the community that will benefit your practice as a whole. Communities are a great way to build relationships with your audience as you step into conversations in a role of trust, allowing them to ask questions and be heard. The only real downside is that as moderator you do not entirely control the content being posted in the community.
Google + Collections
The last of the three features and the second of the new update, Collections is similar to Communities in that when you create a collection on Google Plus you do get to determine the subject it is centered around. However, the distinct difference is that with the Collections feature, only the owner of the collection can post content. This is unique, but as a common concern with many social platforms is that the main feed is often jumbled and doesn’t match the interests of the user, this allows you as a user to make sure that your feed is filled with the information, content, and topics that you are really interested in. Collections are also able to be public or private, they can be shared with a specific circle or they can be shared publicly for all to see. If you follow a collection then any content posted to that collection will appear in your home stream, always making sure that you see the topics most associated to you and your interests.
With these three features and the ability to reach audiences in a more personal, individual way, Google+ offers great options for your practice and patients.
Step #4: Don’t Forget Yelp! And Other Online Listings
While Facebook and Google are the top sites for engaging with potential patients, online listing sites are also a great way to get noticed, attract patients, and increase the growth of your practice.
On these online listing sites, practices can “claim” their business listing, read reviews, and extend their reach. One of the biggest of these online sites is Yelp. Yelp receives over 142 million visitors each month. By claiming your Yelp Business Page, you’ll be able to upload photos, add a link to your website, and ensure that your hours, phone number, and other important information are always up to date.
Follow these quick steps to claiming your Yelp listing:
- Start by visiting the Yelp Business Page. Go to biz.yelp.com. From there you can enter your practice name and area to find your practice.
- Claim your business. Once you have found your practice, click on “Claim this Business.” If your practice has already been claimed, you should check the information to make sure it is accurate. To do this, click on “Already Claimed” and log into Yelp to make changes to your listing.
- Add your practice (if not already listed). If you can’t find your practice after searching, click on “Add your Business to Yelp.” Fill out all required information. After the listing is verified by Yelp moderators, you will receive an email explaining more about the process.
- Once finished, click “Add Business” and check your email for any additional instructions.
In addition to Yelp and Google, you should make sure that your practice is also found in the following online listing sites:
- Bing Places - https://www.bingplaces.com/
- Yahoo Local - https://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/local-listings
- Yellow Pages - https://adsolutions.yp.com/listings/basic
- Citysearch - https://signup.citygrid.com/cyb/find_business
- Mapquest - https://listings.mapquest.com/pl/mapquest-claims/preview.html
When claiming a listing on any of these sites, be prepared with the following information, and keep it consistent from one site to the next. Consistency helps your SEO (search engine optimization) efforts. Putting Brown Dental on one listing and Dr. Brown on another will hurt your rankings in Google and other search engines.
- Business name
- Address (city, state, zip)
- Main phone number
- Business hours
- A description of your business, minimum 250 characters.
- Business categories
- Logo and pictures
Just to be sure you have covered all your bases, consider doing a Google search for your practice and providers as well. Conduct this search a few times over a period of time like a month. See if in these searches any other rating and review sites like Healthgrades come up on the first page of results. If they do, claim and update those as well.
Once you’ve claimed your listings, continue to regularly review them and update needed information.
A Note about Navigating Negative Reviews
First, and this can’t be said enough, the best way to handle negative reviews is to drown them out with a lot of positive reviews. So, put more focus on improving the patient experience and requesting those reviews.
Of course, bad reviews will happen. When they do, here are some tips.
- Give them value. Time is a currency that everyone accepts. Responding to all reviews in a timely manner should be a priority for every practice. For negative reviews it is important to keep the response time in a window of 48 hours. This response time shows that you are paying attention and value their feedback.
- Think before you aim. Do not engage, I repeat....DO NOT ENGAGE. Don’t add to the fire, extinguish it. It can be hard to not take a negative review personally, so take a step back, give yourself an hour or so and then come back to it. Respond only when you feel that you will not be on the defensive side. Hitting back is not a way to end a fight. Resolution is.
- Keep the future in mind. The review is online, it isn’t going anywhere. Respond knowing that the majority will see the review only in the future. Don’t respond to the negativity now, respond to how you want to be viewed later. Take the criticism as an opportunity to grow, improve, and express that. Tell them you appreciate their feedback, and then later share the improvement with them.
- Keep it short and sweet. The response you give to a negative review does not need to be lengthy. Avoid trying to justify any interaction with your practice, or explanation of events. Keep your response to the point and address all of the concerns the patient may have expressed.
- Stay positive. Be kind, genuine, and empathetic. Beat the negativity out with some positive light. Light wins over dark every time...just ask Harry Potter.
It can be difficult to hear negative feedback, especially online where you cannot directly respond and resolve it. Online there is an audience watching how the interactions of both are played out. It may feel at times like a personal attack, but remember this: “Online, the customer is always right, even if they are wrong.” (Suma Kabani)
Negative reviews will happen; they are 100% part of the deal with online reviews. Make a plan, decide how your practice is going to respond to any negative reviews. Then, when you do get a negative review you will already know just what to do. You can respond, then move on.
Step #5: Automate, Automate, Automate
The average person in 2016 spent an average of two hours on social media platforms a day—most of which was spent on Facebook or Google. But your practice probably doesn’t have that kind of time to spend on social media. So how can you keep up with the level of engagement needed to be effective?
By taking advantage of modern patient relationship management (PRM) software, your practice can post to your Facebook page and Twitter account whenever you have a free moment. Posting to social media through a PRM platform makes it easier for your practice to provide information like educational materials, articles, and announcements to your patients. Your PRM can also help you encourage patients to leave online reviews—you can request reviews from the right patients, in the right places.
Using a PRM software can help your practice build an online presence, saving your staff time that can be better spent with your patients. In fact, successful use of PRM software to boost your online presence is one of the easiest ways to shrink that elephant down to a more manageable size. It’s time to gear up, grab your PRM software, your laptop, and your courage, and get busy!
Want to Learn More?
Solutionreach has many products we can show you that can help your practice grow!