Online Reviews / Social Media

Managing Marketing | Legal and Ethical Aspects of Marketing

According to the marketing intelligence agency Mintel, 70% of those consumers who seek advice before purchasing a product or service visit online review sites for information as part of the decision-making process.

Many times, service providers or business owners who receive negative ratings say that online ratings sites are unfair and that allowing reviewers to post anonymously encourages them to post without regard for the facts. While that may or may not be true, the reality is that online reviews are a fact of life in today’s online world.

See the articles Online Reviews and Negative Online Reviews in this module for more details about how to manage this aspect of your practice’s online presence.

If your practice is the subject of a negative online review, you may be able to protect its online reputation, or minimize the fallout, by following the steps below. More information is available in the article titled Negative Online Reviews in this module.

  • Decide how to handle any negative review on a case-by-case basis. Some dentists opt to simply ignore them.
  • If you decide to respond, do not engage or get drawn into an online debate over the incident that prompted the negative review. Doing so can make you appear defensive, confrontational, or accusative and may inadvertently reveal protected healthcare information.
  • Make sure that any response presents you as the caring, concerned and compassionate dentist you are. Consider a statement along the lines of:
    • “I’m sorry to hear that you had a less than exceptional experience at our office. I would like to learn more about what happened and how we can improve the situation. Please contact us as soon as possible so we can make things better.”
  • Also make certain that any response offers no hint as to the identity of the person posting; always protect the patient’s privacy.

Resources:

The FTC’s Advertising FAQ’s: A Guide for Small Business

The FTC’s Advertising and Marketing on the Internet: Rules of the Road

The FTC’s U.S. Safe Web Act

The FTC’s Policy Statement on Deception [PDF]

The FTC’s Endorsement Guides: What People Are Asking 

The ADA Practical Guide to Creating an Employee Policy Manual