One of the simplest formulas for infection control taught to every first year resident is: “the solution to pollution, is dilution!”  This is very similar to managing your online reputation — the reputation that you have worked years to build.  Online reputation management is a process of monitoring, addressing, and mitigating what is said about you online. Where, you might wonder, would your patients post their comments about you? The answer is everywhere — blogs, Facebook pages, rating websites, Twitter, and other platforms.  Remember that anything said about you would be perceived true unless mitigated to the point of dilution.  Meanwhile, physicians and healthcare professionals are worried about privacy issues of engaging online.  Social media is the only way to protect your online reputation and counter any negative influence of a few comments. It should be clear that reputation management is one of the most meaningful reasons why physicians and healthcare professionals should be online.  The first step of managing your online reputation is to have a deep digital presence.  Your presence includes a complete and up-to-date profile including a professional picture of you.  You need to have all your social media sites set up and activated.  These include your Facebook page, Google+ page, LinkedIn profile, Twitter site, Youtube channel, etc.  Whether you ask your patients or not, they now have the field wide open for them to make their comments and share their experience — positive or negative — about you.  The idea is to flood the web with overwhelming positive comments which would then dilute the negative comments and, literally, push them out of the visitors view. How, you may ask, would the dilution work?  Online reputation management is primarily done through the results of the search engines.  Search engines e.g. Google, uses algorithms which look for dynamic and relevant content.  This ranks well with Google and any search about you would bring your content on top.  This is the essence of countering the negative comments and pushing them down the results ladder.  Why would it matter for you to be on the first page?  Because more than 40% of people do not go beyond the first page of a Google search.  Almost 85% or more do not even go to the second page.  The negative comments about you would simply be invisible to people.  Remember also that you need to have a dynamic and interactive website which enables sharing.  This would then significantly boost your search rankings, putting you on the top of the search results.  Although negative comments will not just go away, people will simply not find them. Considering the importance of your reputation, next time when you ponder the question “What are the benefits in doing social media marketing?”, consider, the alternative of not being online — priceless!  Keep in mind that regardless of how great of a doctor you are, you can never make each and every patient happy.  Nevertheless, you can be proactive and take charge of your digital presence. So, how can you start to manage your online reputation?  The first step of reputation management is to have the knowledge of what is being said about you online. This can be managed by a simple method — Google Alerts.  Set up alerts for your name, practice name, associate’s name, and any name related to you.  Once done, Google will send you a message alerting you if something is said about you online.  This would be a good first step and easy to do and free.  Then, flood the web with your content.  You should also ask your patients to write comments on your digital platforms.  Realize that this is a process and it will take time for Google and the other search engines to pick up and place you higher in their rankings.

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