While scanning the news recently, two separate non-connected stories caught my attention and made me think about Reputation Management and how it applies to pharmacies in these days of social media. The first was a story involving a pharmacy in Minnesota that dispensed the wrong medication to a patient that led to a customer getting a blood clot, a paralyzing stroke and permanent damage. The second article had absolutely nothing to do with the pharmacy business. It was the fact that Chipotle admitted that a majority of its restaurants were infected with credit card stealing malware. What connects these two separate incidents? Online Reputation Management.
What is Online Reputation Management?
The best definition I could find was provided by Techopedia. Now known as ORM, Online Reputation Management is basically having a strategy to influence what the public sees and perceives regarding your business. It is proactively directing public opinion regarding your services and/or products. Traditionally, most of us would consider this as PR or Public Relations. In this day and age of Social Media, anything can be documented and published about your business, and since its on the Internet…. it must be true, right? A study in 2016 showed that over 62% of adults get their news from social media, with the 20-35 age group reaching over 80% and increasing.
Using the Chipotle story as an example, a search on Google for Chipotle lists the news story on page #2 almost at the bottom of the Google results (NBC and Reuters news concerning the hack are all the way down at the #17 and #18 result positions). The search for Chipotle first brings up the following listings: It’s own website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Wikipedia, YouTube, Yelp, etc. The point is that Chipotle actively used the Internet with social media sites to actively control their company information. In other words, by being active and proactive long before the damaging news stories, Chipotle was able to dominate searches about their company on Google and limit the damage. Controlling the information resulted in minimizing the effects of the credit card breach by “knocking” the stories back to the bottom of page #2 on Google. Of course this doesn’t mean the hack will go unnoticed and not result in extensive damage to the company by TV and news sites such as CNN reporting continuously on the situation. Yet I’m hoping that everyone can understand the point.
How Do I Protect My Business’ Reputation Online?
The answer is not as complicated as it seems. Keep in mind that reputation management is like insurance -> nobody wants it until they need it! So the answer is to be proactive and take actions now that will limit the damage that a bad news story or customer complaint can bring. Using the Chipotle story again as our example, begin actively using the Internet with social media sites to actively control YOUR company information. Everyone can (and should) be doing this! We all have the ability to actively contribute to our reputations online and to control what information is presented to the public about our businesses.
Many clients ask “How do I make any money by using Social Media?” (Note – for more information regarding using social media for marketing and monetizing your investments, please visit our previous posts Facebook & Social Media for Pharmacies and Social Media for Pharmacies). The answers can be various, but a better question to ask is “How can using Social Media result in my pharmacy business not getting a bad reputation?” (and not lose customers and money). For many people in my generation it is not how we go about choosing a product or a service, but a recent survey cited by Forbes Magazine showed that 88% of consumers read online reviews before purchasing a product or choosing a vendor. Additionally it was noted that almost 90% trust the reviews as much as they do a personal recommendation from a friend or neighbor! Lastly is the important fact that consumers who experience a negative interaction were 50% more likely to share it on social media than those who had good experiences (just 30%) and 52% more likely to share it on an online review site such as Yelp or Google.
So here are the steps recommended to take now and be proactive:
1. Build a website and have it properly optimized for Google (SEO).
Remember that you only get once chance at a first impression, so make your site appealing!
2. Setup your Social Media accounts. As with your website, your design will be judged by your audience so make it a good reflection on your business. In the order I would choose:
– Company LinkedIn
– YouTube (if you have any videos)
There are obviously other Social Media sites that are popular (such as Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc.) that are not really as important. Yet they do have a use in certain instances and with certain demographics and can always help with Reputation Management.
3. Post. Doesn’t have to be as frequent as many think, especially as time goes by.
A simple rule to start would be –
Facebook – once weekly
Twitter – once weekly
LinkedIn, Google+, etc. – once monthly
*Remember to engage your audience if people do ask questions or make comments. A dialogue is after all what Social Media is really all about.
4. Ask for reviews! Especially on Facebook, Yelp and Google.
Remember that people are less likely to take the time to give you a good review, so ask them too! This is especially helpful on Google, where the Google Local Business listings are highly influenced by the number of reviews that you have. Train your staff to ask for reviews as part of your business processes.
5. Make Social Media a part of your marketing. Include your Facebook, Twitter, etc. addresses on all of your print materials and emails. Signs in your pharmacy are a great way to get your customers’ attention.
5. Accept negative reviews for what they are and never get into a “battle” online. Negative reviews are a part of the game and you will get them. Acknowledge that you understand their concerns and attempt to take it offline. That’s all that people want to see and expect from a business. If there are no negative reviews, it actually seems very suspicious to many savvy consumers.
Who Can Help You With Reputation Management?
As always, please contact us here at HealthCare Consultants if you have any questions regarding Reputation Management or any of the Social Media platforms. Keep in mind that HCC actually has 3 full time in-house Pharmacists with decades of experience in Social Media, SEO and email marketing. We welcome calls regarding consulting on these subjects and are willing to share what we have learned with you. With over 27 years in the Pharmacy Consulting business, HCC can assist with expert advice in any area of your pharmacy business or practice. With a full-time staff of in-house Pharmacy Consultant specialists, HCC can answer any questions that you may have in all areas of your business. Contact us online today or call us today at 800-642-1652.