The downside of social media

2008 08 25 09 39 13 628 Richard Geller Thumb2

Editor's note: Richard Geller's column, Marketing Madness, appears regularly on the advice and opinion page, Second Opinion.

The new reach of social media Web sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and even Google have a dark side you must be aware of.

Let me tell you how one client recently experienced this dark side.

I'll call her Helen. Helen contacted me, very upset. Someone had posted some bad reviews of her dental practice on a well-known online review site.

This is a "social media" site. Not only do people see the reviews on this site, but the site uses an RSS feed and other sites pick up its content. So what gets reported on this one site tends to end up on tens or hundreds of other Web sites.

Since this site is extremely prominent, Google considers it "high authority." So when you put her name into Google, her own Web site did NOT come up.

Instead, this review site came up. And Google even quoted a snippet of the bad review in the search results.

What someone had said on this site was hurting Helen's practice and causing her sleepless nights. She had lost a great deal of confidence in herself and her dentistry. And she was at the end of her tether.

I asked her to tell me what had happened, and she said that while there was some truth to what the reviewers had said, there was a lot of untruth, too.

She said she had had a bad employee, a front desk person who mistreated patients. She got rid of that person. And now she had competitors, other dentists in her area, who she was sure had placed bad reviews on this site, in order to have an advantage over her.

So here is what can happen to YOU:

  1. Someone goes on one of these review sites. They are very common. There are local sites, sites like Yelp or Yahoo, that cover every geography, plus various other directories.

  2. They anonymously talk about you and your practice.

  3. They lie or misstate the truth.

What can you do?

There are three things that you must know about social media and bad reviews:

  1. The sites will disclaim any responsibility to edit the reviews. You can threaten legal action and may get somewhere, or you may not. Yelp recently changed its policies somewhat to let people who have been slammed fight back a little. But don't count on it.

  2. You should be proactive by making sure you have a strong Web presence and that you are on various social media sites with some sort of presence.

  3. You should monitor what people say about you. Go to Google and set up a "Google Alert" with your name. If you have a common name, like Smith, use "John Smith Dentist" in the Google alert. You will receive notifications from Google in many cases when there is something new attached to your name. This does not replace using the Google search engine to uncover problems on a monthly basis, but it does help.

By following the above steps, you will hopefully avoid the nightmares some dentists and other businesspeople are having.

And please stop by my site and get on my list so you can attend an upcoming webinar about getting unlimited patients from Google.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

Copyright © 2009

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