Social media impersonators are more common than you may think. Popular names attract followers faster than unknown names and few people think to verify if someone is really who they say they are. Mayo Clinic’s Medical Director, Farris Timimi, never expected to find two Twitter profiles when he searched for his own account. But that’s exactly what he found when he searched for himself on Twitter. He had to report the impersonator and wait for the problem o be fixed. That’s why you should claim your own identity before someone else does, and you should search regularly for impostors and act quickly if you find one. (If you set up alerts for names, you will be alerted faster with less effort.)
Most social sites have policies against impersonating others, so there are procedures for reporting imposters:
Twitter Account Reporting
Report your problem immediately here, but only if you have the authority to do so. Here are some guidelines about who can act. After you report the account, you may be asked to provide proof that you are the real McCoy.
Google+ Account Reporting
Go to the impersonating profile and find the “Report / Block” option by clicking on the down arrow next to the communication icons. Indicate the account is impersonating someone and then answer the additional questions that come up.
LinkedIn Account Reporting
You must be a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd connection to report a profile here. From the member’s profile page, click the down arrow next to Send a Message or Send InMail . Select Flag as inappropriate, then select a reason for flagging the profile and click send.
Facebook Account Reporting
If someone created an account pretending to be someone else, Go to the timeline and click and then select Report/Block. Next, select Submit a Report and choose This person is impersonating someone. Follow the additional prompts. If you don’t have a Facebook account, you can report someone this way.
Google+ just got a new look, and it came packed with a lot of new features. Some of these features are especially useful if you’re providing medical education or promoting healthcare services.
Hashtags help you associate your information with related healthcare discussions!
Hashtags are more important than ever. If you include relevant hashtags in the Share section of your tweet, your post becomes associated with other posts tagged with that hashtag. When a reader clicks on a hashtag box that includes a hashtag your post used, your post comes up as related information. Take a look at the sample post. Notice the hashtag #tweetchat in the box that is pointed out? If my readers want to know more about tweetchats, they can click on the hashtag and see more posts with that hashtag (the card seems to visually flip over to reveal related posts), BUT it also means that a reader clicks on this hashtag inside someone else’s post, my post might become visible as a related post. (NOTE: If you don’t include hashtags in your Google+ post, Google will select some for you that aren’t so accurate.)
Communities prominently feature your practice or organization.
Communities are good places to provide educational material related to patient health concerns and your services. But NOW they are also great places to attract new patients if you create your own community. This is because communities prominently feature the company page that created it. Every time someone visits the community to read up, your practice name is seen. (NOTE: Personal pages don’t seem to get the same billing yet.)
Video hangouts can include a message explaining why you’re holding one.
You might not be able to discuss a patient’s specific health issue on Google, but you can answer patient questions about procedures, recovery, etc. Now with the ability to include an explanation with your invite, you can make yourself available to those who might want to know about your services. This might be especially handy if you invite a specific community where everyone shares a common health issue or lifestyle. (NOTE: This option currently only exists in the Hangout Party option.)
Kathi Browne shares some first steps in managing online reputations of your physician staff.
Is your medical practice physically fit when it comes to social presence? If you haven’t had a recent checkup, don’t put it off any longer. Negative online comments can hang around for a long time, turning potential patients away. Knowing what is out there and taking control is a necessary part of today’s practice.
How do you compare with other local practices?
Google your specialty and location. Is your own website on the first page? Do other local doctors have more impressive presence or reviews? Do you even show up?
What first impression do you make on the internet?
Google your practice and see how you look. Does anything jump out as being really good or really bad? Posting new content regularly, encouraging happy patients to post reviews, claiming your page on other listing sites, and making online news for community participation can help flush out old news that might hurt you.
Now scroll on down through the search results to see if any reviews appear (you can also add the word reviews to your search). Are your reviews mostly good? Do your physicians even show up?
Are you neglecting your social profiles or engaging with the public?
Too many healthcare entities set up Facebook pages and then think they run themselves. The problem with this philosophy is that one bad comment can pick up speed real fast and tarnish the reputation of a provider. Likewise, if someone is going to take the time to say how wonderful an experience was, don’t you think a thank-you is in order?
Is your website serving a purpose?
It’s no longer good enough to post a page simply to display your practice name and address. Your site should serve a purpose so patients remember you and share your site with others. Some practice sites post health tips. Others offer blog posts that reveal the human side of staff. Some sites provide online appointment scheduling, or form downloads that save time getting seen for the first time. Most offer information on what to do in an emergency when the office is closed and how to contact the office. How are you considering the needs of your patients with your website? Is your competition doing a better job?
Are you reaching your patients where they are participating online?
There is no one-size fits all when it comes to deciding where your practice should interact with patients. Facebook might be a great place for the elderly and new moms, but Google+ or YouTube might be time better spent communicating with career men and women. Don’t be shy about surveying your patients to learn where they want to find you.
A checkup can reveal where you need to give some attention. A little online activity today can prevent leaving the wrong impression tomorrow.