Practices face a slew of implementation decisions. In addition to deciding whether to select Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media networks, they must choose who will manage their sites and how much access they’ll provide employees. Some practices allow all employees to post on the sites to build content and traffic, provided they follow written guidelines regarding appropriate content and comments.
Explore This IssueApril 2011
Ericson advocates this open approach, noting that employees can access Facebook on their cell phones if they choose. Many practice administrators can learn tips from their employees about setting up and navigating a Facebook page. And, from a practical standpoint, it’s best to have multiple users monitor the site on an ongoing basis so the practice can respond quickly to patient questions or concerns, he said.
Nevertheless, some practices restrict access to the physicians and practice manager. “Managers are afraid that employees will waste time on social media, and the truth is that they do spend time on Facebook or watching videos on YouTube,” Ericson admitted.
Monitor Your Presence
To monitor their online presence and reputation, otolaryngology practices should search online for the name of the practice and physicians on a regular basis. You also can use “Google alerts” and social media sites to build and monitor your online image. “For specialties such as otolaryngology, you don’t necessarily need to pay for Google ads,” Watson said. “There are ways to create your page so that search engines will find you.”
That being said, many otolaryngologists need help managing their presence on the web. The Internet is still “the wild West,” explained Greg Johnson, president of Vital Element, Inc., a web service provider with offices in Michigan and Florida that provides medical website design, web-based medical marketing and web strategy consulting to the medical industry. “Whether someone puts information on the web that’s true or untrue, it’s still going to show up.”
Combating that problem takes varying degrees of cost and effort. You can hire a company to defend your reputation online, but the optimum approach usually involves a balanced strategy that combines professional website development with internal practice oversight.
External service providers, for example, can help practices take control of their online presence through professional website development, search marketing strategies, social networking and patient reviews management, where a site is monitored to respond quickly to unfavorable reviews and remove them from public view.