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    Social media success stems from message management

    Maximizing social media presence means taking advantage of everything from profile listings to links between various online outlets

    Las Vegas — Social media success requires accentuating the positive, as well as recognizing the potential impact of every comment or click, according to experts at the Cosmetic Surgery Forum, held here.

    “Social media, as opposed to all the M.D. rating sites, allow us to tell our own stories, connect with patients directly on the Web and to make a better relationship with our patients,” says Emily Altman, M.D. She is dermatologist in private practice in Berkeley Heights, N.J.

    Social media use in healthcare continues to grow, she says. For starters, 72 percent of adults use the Internet to research health information, says Dr. Altman, who spoke recently at Cosmetic Surgery Forum. Furthermore, according to Insight Marketing Group, the majority of people look for specific brands online, “And they trust information from their friends or other consumers on the Web much more than they trust advertisements.”1

    Accordingly, Dr. Altman says, “Patients who find you online are more apt to like and trust you from the start.”

    Regarding patients’ online reviews, she says, “The numbers are staggering, and growing.”

    On a somewhat ominous note, she adds, the Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Physician Compare site (http://www.medicare.gov/physiciancompare/search.html) is planning to use patient reviews as a means of measuring quality and, possibly in the future, setting reimbursement levels.

    “Most people don’t log on to sing the praises of a product, service or person. Usually the Internet is crammed with people griping,” Dr. Altman says. “It serves as an outlet for people who might be frustrated and needing to vent. I’ve done that. If I can’t get a company to respond to my requests for a particular service, I post my complaint on their Facebook page. Within minutes, some vice president will email me back, trying to make me happy.”

    Barry M. Lycka, M.D., says negative reviews should not be ignored.

    “Social media are a double-edged sword. A disgruntled client is 10 to 20 times more likely to post a negative review than a satisfied customer is to post a positive review,” Dr. Lycka says. Because potential patients are influenced by negative reviews, don’t ignore them. He is a dermatologist in private practice in Edmonton, Alberta.

    Dr. Altman says Googling one’s own name represents a crucial step in establishing and protecting one’s online reputation.

    “You may not like what you find, but you have to know what’s out there.” To that end, she says, services such as Google’s “Me on the Web” can notify you whenever your name or other personal information appears online.

    However, Dr. Altman says, challenging negative reviews is difficult. Judges dismiss the vast majority of such cases, so lawsuits are not worth the time and expense. Instead, “It’s much easier to put your stamp out there first” and take control of your online presence, she says.

    Next: Short- and long-term benefits of social media


    John Jesitus
    John Jesitus is a medical writer based in Westminster, CO.


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