A Basic Introduction To Online Reviews

Oct 29 | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 

For businesses across a wide range of industries, the Internet has become not only a necessary forum for marketing services, but also a place to network and interact with current and potentially new customers. Physical therapy providers can greatly benefit from knowing how to utilize several of the more prominent online review forums, especially in regard to appropriately managing their patient reviews. Online platforms such as Yelp, Google Plus and Facebook provide a space for patients to comment on their experiences, and are increasingly being relied on by consumers to make informed decisions. When used effectively, review forums can be beneficial for both therapy providers and their patients, because they serve as a low cost means of marketing for clinics and simultaneously serve as a free location for consumers to make educated decisions.

However, these forums require a certain amount of user knowledge, both from businesses and consumers, and come with a specific set of best practices. Here is an introduction to the basics of online reviews:

Notable online review forums for clinics 
There are seemingly innumerable websites on the Internet dedicated to giving users a space in which to write reviews and opinions. However, therapy clinics just mainly focus on:

Yelp: With Yelp for Business Owners, your practice can create a free business page that lists your hours and other pertinent information, along with photos to showcase your clinic. Furthermore, you can monitor and respond to user reviews. Yelp is open-sourced, meaning that anyone may leave a review. For clinics looking to learn the detailed specifics of this platform, Yelp offers resources for businesses regarding proper review etiquette, as well as a business owner blog.

Google: Often written out as Google Plus, this forum is the second largest social networking website behind Facebook. According to TastyPlacement, Google is prioritized above other social media in terms of Google search engine rankings, so a strong profile can potentially boost your clinic’s website traffic. Similar to Yelp, Google provides space to list important information about your clinic, although this platform is more socially geared.

Facebook: With more than a billion users, Facebook is by far the world’s largest social networking website. While it is imperative that you keep the Facebook page for your clinic professional, this is a much more social and personal forum for interacting with patients, networking and sharing news. Note that a Facebook page is distinctly different from a profile, with pages focusing on businesses and organizations rather than individuals.

Building your clinic’s pages
There are a number of necessary elements you should include when crafting a page for your clinic. Make sure to include contact information such as a phone number, street address, main email and website domain name. You may also want to include a summary of your business, perhaps listing goals, accomplishments and awards. However, pages should be professional and succinct, so avoid going into too much detail or rambling. Ideally, your practice can set up a page to provide users with all of its basic information, and then your consistent updates, along with user contributions such as reviews, to help keep the page current and engaging.

Your activity will need to vary to match each forum you’re using. For example, Yelp is not necessarily a good venue for making announcements or sharing events. The vast majority of Yelp interactions will involve responding to reviews of patients from your clinic. On the other hand, a Facebook page is a fantastic tool for sharing news, writing thoughtful notes and advertising events. To effectively optimize your pages, it’s imperative to become knowledgeable of the format and culture in each network.

Who can post reviews?
In general, business pages are open-sourced, meaning that anyone can post to them, so there is an inherent level of transparency. In other words, unsatisfied customers have as much an opportunity to post reviews as happy ones. Of course, there are effective ways for businesses to build a positive online reputation, as well as a set of best practices for responding to negative and positive reviews. Overall, clinic staff responsible for managing these pages should be well-versed in proper etiquette.

How to get started
To get started in creating a positive online presence, browse Yelp, Google, Facebook and other networking sites to see what practices appear to work well. Try and find examples of well-managed and poorly-managed pages and make note of the differences. Look for trends that seem to provide certain pages with high traffic. Then, use each website’s help section or business user guide as a reference point for creating a well-crafted page for your clinic.

In future articles, we will cover information such as addressing positive and negative reviews, how to appropriately incentivize reviews and the best practices of various social media.

 

This article is brought to you by PREFERRED Therapy Providers Inc. PREFERRED is the nation’s leading payor management services network. Our expertise is working with physical, occupational and speech therapy practices – from single clinics to multiple clinic locations.