What's the first thing many of us do when ourselves or a loved one is given a new diagnosis by a physician or other healthcare professional? Head straight for the keyboard and Google it. Why? Even if it's something we're somewhat familiar with, we want to know what to expect. We want to know what treatment options are available. And we want to know how other people have coped under the same circumstances.
The Internet continues to be a vast collection of information about anything you ever want to know about. And caregivers continue to use the Web to find information and connect with other people who have had similar experiences for support.
Caregivers tap into the social power of the Web
The past several years have reflected this trend, and research results indicate that caregivers are using the Internet for information more so than any other group. Pew Internet's latest survey shows that 8 out of 10 caregivers have access to the Web, and 90 percent of those with Internet access use it to find health information for someone other than themselves.
Caregivers are more likely than non-caregivers to seek out and follow another person's health situation and progress online. This trend is made possible by the increasing number of individuals who choose to make their personal health circumstances public, via a blog or a public Facebook page, as a means of self-coping, creating a community of supporters or providing a resource for others going through similar circumstances.
Caregivers are more likely to seek out others' opinions or read about another person's experience with a specific drug or treatment, medical facility or provider. The Internet is evolving into a highly social platform, opposed to the static source of factual information it once was.
Reputation management: A top priority for senior living providers
This poses an interesting challenge to senior living providers, who not only have to ensure that they're putting high-quality information on the Web but also must monitor and maintain positive feedback among social communities.
Providers no longer have complete control over what's out there on the Internet about themselves or their organizations. A commitment to top-quality service, continuous reputation monitoring and rapid resolutions to problems are the foundation of reputation management in today's highly connected, social environment.
Online reputation management is increasingly complex
As caregivers adopt more social networks and capitalize on the social aspects of the World Wide Web, online reputation management becomes increasingly complex. Consumers have a greater impact on the purchasing decisions of others than ever before; it's far simpler to share both positive and negative opinions with thousands of people instead of just a few.
G5, a provider of digital experience management software and services to senior living owners and operators, recently shared some survey results indicating that 75 percent of consumers don't trust the information that companies put out there about themselves in marketing and advertising messages. "Consumer reviews are 12 times more trusted than descriptions that come from the business or manufacturer," the company reveals.
First steps: Taking charge of your online reputation
Monitoring consumer opinions is only the first step. Encouraging consumers to provide positive feedback in a public forum can increase trust--but you first must engage them. Like it or not, there will be information about your company on the Web, whether you initiate it or someone else does. The only way to maintain control over your online reputation is to embrace it.
- Claim your company's brand name across popular social networks.
- Don't just monitor the conversation; take an active role in engaging your audience.
- Set up Google Alerts for your brand name and other relevant terms to find out when new content is posted about your company.
- Be responsive to comments and feedback and strive to create a positive community.
- Encourage open discussion, solicit feedback and input and provide useful and relevant information.