What do I know about you?
Have you evaluated the image you portray to prospective patients? Your personal information is easily accessible, including your social media profile and Companies House business records. But how can you manage your profile proactively?
Why is this relevant?
The most reliable form of marketing is undoubtedly word of mouth. Contented patients will recommend you to their families, friends and colleagues, establishing an initial element of trust and setting high expectations about your expertise for prospective patients.
Previously, a patient might have looked up your practice in a directory and called your secretary to make a booking; but this no longer applies. Inevitably, a patient is going to do some online research prior to making an appointment.
What will a patient find when they Google your name?
Ideally, the information listed will consolidate their positive expectations, leading to a booking.
Your website should appear high up in the search results, followed by your Linked In profile. This is an optimal result, as your patients would see the image you would like to portray.
But the reality may be somewhat different…
In a not uncommon scenario, your name may be shared by multiple people, leading to a convoluted wild goose chase by the prospective patient – and a negative result.
So here’s what to look out for:
If you have been a director or owned a limited company, you will be listed on Companies House. There are numerous agencies offering information about your financial performance for a small fee.
Your home address may be listed if it has been utilised at any point as your registered address. Patients will also be able to view your business associates and collaborators. If you are involved in a family business, your patients will be able to see personal details you may wish to keep private.
Social media platforms
These set your profile as ‘public’ by default; if you are a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram user, you need to go to rigorous lengths to keep your posts private.
It’s common practice for people to check you out on Facebook. If the result portrays you drinking beer in the Caribbean, the prospective patient may opt to go elsewhere.
Often doctors are listed on numerous hospital websites; this can be confusing for prospective patients. Where do you actually work? Why are you working across five different locations?
Private health-care directories are a thriving business and you may find you have been listed on several of these without your knowledge or consent.
Directories amass their data in a random fashion and it’s often out of date. It would be fairly off-putting for a prospective patient to be referred to an obsolete address.
Increasingly, services are being evaluated online by clients, and patients will find opportunities to leave reviews and comments on the service you provide. This phenomenon is only going to grow.
This could be excellent for your practice if the reviews are positive; however, negative reviews are clearly undesirable. Assessment is always subjective and this is a factor to consider. Mumsnet is a good example of a very active site which is often used by patients to evaluate doctors and post and share reviews.
It’s possible you may be linked to a famous patient via an article in the press. This can be invaluable if your name is associated with positive accolades, but how does one deal with potentially negative comments?
It would take concerted time and effort to remove all personal data and would require dedicated, meticulous attention.
There is a compelling argument for managing your profile proactively and taking control.
You can ensure that positive comments and endorsements are easily found – this is technically achievable.
Taking control of your profile will entail an initial investment of time, as well as ongoing, regular maintenance, by means of the following:
The creation and management of a professional website is a separate issue. But, in summary, check that your website is smart, functional and contemporary, including updated contact details.
If you don’t already have a website, we would strongly encourage you to create one. A one-page website including a professional photograph, relevant contact details and a succinct welcome message about your services would be sufficient to start with.
Currently, most professionals use LinkedIn and your patients will fully expect to find you listed on this service. It’s fundamental to include a professional photograph and a good introduction.
The free service is adequate, there’s no need to upgrade to a premium facility. In addition, LinkedIn invests heavily in ensuring its results are prioritised because you will miss out if you are not listed accordingly.
The vast majority of the global populace use social media; it is feasible to participate while managing and retaining your privacy. Platforms periodically change their privacy setting and conditions and you need to check these regularly. Ask someone to look you up and see what they find.
Check the websites on which you are listed. Are they appropriate? If this isn’t the case, instigate removal of your details. If the websites are relevant, ensure listings are correct and consistent with your website and LinkedIn profiles.
Firstly, directories can easily be contacted to update your details, upload a photo and so on. Services will try to upgrade you to a premium package, which is unnecessary in most cases.
These are technically inspired. It’s possible to set up free, daily alerts and notifications on specific topics featured on the internet. You can set up your contact preferences and receive an email each time something relevant comes online.
Regular reviews of your online profile
This is an ongoing consideration. You need to evaluate and monitor your profile periodically to ensure there are no unpleasant surprises. Furthermore in most cases, a brief monthly check will suffice, especially if using Google Alerts effectively.
We are happy to assist with any aspect of the above. Please get in touch as our team of Digital Marketing and Social Media Managers can review your online presence. Meanwhile, enjoy exploring and taking control.
Jane Braithwaite is Managing Director at Designated Medical and regularly contributes to the Independent Practitioner Today publication.
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