Even Doctors Need Good Reputation Management

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5StarControl, a reputation management website, recommends that specialized small business professionals track and control their online business reputation as they can be affected just as much as larger businesses.

5StarControl releases their weekly tip stating that small businesses can improve their customer base and increase profits by focusing on reputation management and online marketing. They point out that many self employed professionals may overlook the impact reputation management tools can make in their business' bottom line.

A supporting piece of data 5StarControl shared with its readers is the article plastic surgeon Dr. Joseph G. Bauer’s article published in the July 2012 issue of Aesthetic Surgery Journal, in which he states that it is critical for doctors and medical professionals to monitor their online reputations. Reputation management site 5StarControl writes that consumers are now researching specialized professionals, not just popular businesses, online – which is why online reputation monitoring is so important to all local business online marketing.

In their August 7, 2012 online story, the Virtual-Strategy Magazine writes that Dr. Bauer’s article confirms findings from a recent Pew Internet and American Life Project study in which 44 percent of online medical information searches by consumers targeted physicians and medical practices. “This is a huge percentage of patients researching their doctors, and seeing how involved the doctor is in the online health community and seeing what the community thinks of the doctor,” Virtual-Strategy says. Additionally, Dr. Bauer contends that because there is no way to differentiate between real or bogus patient reviews, doctors and medical practices need to be extremely vigilant in monitoring their online reputation.

In their February 1, 2011 study of online health care researchers, Pew Internet finds that although approximately the same number of consumers is using the internet to research medical information now than there were in 2002, the typical users went from being specialized users in 2002 to being typical patients and consumers nowadays. The Pew Internet study further divides “health information seekers” researched in their study into specific user groups based on gender, professional accreditation, level of income, how or where the information was accessed from (the internet or mobile devices),and health-related issues of users. The study reports that 55% of users accessed information using a mobile device. The study also found that 60% of mobile device users were in their early to late 20s, significantly more than users age 65 and up.

Consumers searching for medical information online, no matter their age, are faced with the reality that not all websites listed in search engine results offer valid, accurate medical information, either about medical problems or treatments, said an August 7, 2012 Scientific American article. The same can be said for finding real, accurate reviews of health care providers and medical practices. Because this information is not monitored for accuracy, many specialist businesses, including doctors, lawyers, dentists, and the like, are finding it necessary to turn to reputation management to guard against negative or false consumer reviews – to, in effect, police their online reputation, said the report. Sites such as Yelp offer local businesses the services and resources to manage consumer reviews about their company.

According to the Virtual-Strategy article, bogus reviews are difficult to differentiate from actual customer reviews. This means that local business marketing is challenged with reviewing many consumer reviews to make sure they are legitimate feedback posts left by real customers. For businesses faced with this time-consuming task, many business owners are turning to professional online reputation management firms to manage their online presence and consumer reviews for them.

As with most any other endeavor, however, finding the right reputation management service for your business requires research. 5StarControl maintains that not all reputation management companies are legitimate providers of this service. 5StarControl believes that social media websites like Yelp and Facebook offer better options for businesses and consumers when it comes to investigating businesses and consumer reviews, a theory that is supported in a recent report issued by Yelp, Inc. and released on August 1, 2012 which concluded that Yelp’s 2nd Quarter 2012 reviews increased approximately 54% over the previous year’s 2nd Quarter.

5StarControl recommends that all businesses regardless of type focus on their reputation management strategy and finding a reputable SEO company to ensure the best possible exposure of their business.

5StarControl is a newsletter covering local business concepts about reputation management.

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