Ultimately, there is nothing more important than your senior living community’s reputation. The credibility of your brand among current residents, family members, prospects and referral sources is at the very core of operating a successful company or facility.
The Internet and online communications have become the go-to source for information and conversation today. E-commerce is at the epicenter of the 21st century marketplace and is an area you must excel in to optimize your success. At the same time, it presents increased risk that your image could be damaged by disgruntled individuals.
Tips for Successful Online Reputation Management
In our new world of instantaneous communications and “viral word of mouth,” there are important steps you should follow to strengthen your brand and protect your reputation. The evidence is very clear that a good offense is the best defense for keeping your reputation strong and intact. The goal is to optimize positive reviews on “page one” and drive negatives to lower pages. The evidence shows that 95% of all people conducting a web search never look beyond the first page of a ranked search listing.
Apply SEO best practices – Know what your customers are looking for and use key words that match their needs. Optimize web section word counts and use your community’s name frequently and especially in important places that have the maximum impact on your search rankings.
- Engage in Social Media PR – Social media such as blogs, Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn – a key business-to-business medium – provide an excellent platform for delivering a positive image to your clients, prospects, referral sources and staff. In addition to enabling you to shape your desired public personality, they offer a means for creating a reputation for your organization as a thought leader or subject authority.
- Actively monitor your brand – Search for your company name frequently. It is important that you stay aware of what is being said about your community online. You may need to respond to inaccurate stories, deal with an aggrieved customer or simply reply to an unanswered question. Many monitoring tools are available to help you with this.
- Respond to negative online comments ASAP – If negative comments do surface, the prevailing wisdom is to act immediately and contact the source. First, ask if there is anything you can do to change their perceptions from negative to positive. If that doesn’t work, be sure to post a comment to give your side of the story and explain to readers what you are doing, if appropriate, to rectify the source of the discontent. Never underestimate the benefits of strong service recovery. Sometimes you can make lemonade out of lemons.
- Create a positive service culture – In the HealthLeadersMedia.com article, What’s Your Brand?, the author asserts, “Your brand walks on two legs.” Every interaction your staff has with your residents, family members or referral sources is viewed as a reflection of your brand and directly influences your reputation.
- Utilize testimonials and recommendations – If you have positive feedback from your residents and families, take full advantage of it across your entire platform of online communications. Positive endorsements of your community and staff that go viral, provide a great return on your investment in excellent service and care.
- Distribute SEO-rich media releases regularly – Sending out search-optimized media releases can help you to rank highly for relevant keyword searches. This provides your community with another opportunity to have a page one listing for search engines such as Bing, Google and others.
- Check out your Wikipedia page – Wikipedia entries about companies typically appear on the first search page, usually within the top five results for a company’s name. If there is negative or incorrect information about your community on your Wikipedia page, ask them for suggestions on how to fix it.
- Be opportunistic, but realistic – Sometimes negative things occur that you just cannot control. As we all know, “stuff” happens. That’s why it is so important to be highly proactive in taking steps to influence top search engine results and create a positive image of your brand. The simple fact is that it’s extremely difficult to eliminate negative content when it surfaces.
Implications for Senior Living Providers
Social media has upped the stakes and increased the importance and urgency of online reputation management. Today, it’s an unfortunate fact that some people may be motivated to make negative comments online about your organization. If you need additional expertise and experience in strengthening, managing and protecting your online reputation to achieve optimal growth and brand equity, be sure to look for an experienced organization that operates exclusively in the senior living marketplace and has the specialized expertise and experience required to succeed.