Reputation Management Part 1: Understanding What Not To Do

Physician Reputation ManagementPart 1: What is your reputation online and what can you do that will burn it to the ground?

As a physician or clinic, managing your reputation online can be a tricky task. Online review sites like Rate MD, blogs and social sites like Twitter and Facebook give patients a much louder voice and longer reach than they used to have. Worse, a couple of individuals who really don't like you can have a disproportionately large voice since - unlike your generally happy patients - they're the ones who are really motivated to talk about you. 

There are ways that you can manage and control your reputation successfully, and then there are the most common responses that do much more harm than good. By way of example, here's is an example of exactly what you don't want to do and why people do it anyway.

Case study: IMD Lasers In Toronto

A few months ago, IMD Lasers in Toronto was named in an online discussion thread on Medical Spa MD with patients calling it a "horror" and saying it should be shut down... Not what you want people to be saying but, as those who are literate in the ways of the internet know, to be expected at some point if you're treating hundreds or thousands of patients a year. The problem wasn't really that IMD had some harsh comments posted about them, it was that they were unprepared, unrealistic, and unprofessional in their response to...

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Is Social Media Worth Investing Your Time & Energy?

Is Social Media Worth Investing Your Time & Energy?

By Craig Coniver, MD

With the spreading of social media into nearly every aspects of our lives, it is worth pausing and reflecting upon their value.

Are you tweeting yet? Posting to your Facebook wall? How about connecting through LinkedIn? How big is your cirlce in Google+? With the onslaught of social media, there is mounting pressure to join each network, manage conections and monetize these various social media outlets. It seems as if social media has become the dominant measuring stick for how well you are doing as a business and how well you are connecting with others.

And while I think social media is something to be embraced, I do not think every outlet is for every person. Nor do I believe that social media serves as any type of barometer in your life (professional and personal). In fact, I think the more you are selective about where you garnish your social media energy and attention, the better you can use social media to your advantage.

Before I get to the specifics of the most popular social media outlets, I want you to come away from this article with one main point: social media presence does NOT equate to success. There is a lot of advice coming at us telling us to join all of the social media networks, trying to convince us that the only way to grow our business and connect with people is by creating these various outposts/hubs to connect with others.

The truth remains, however, that most of the time you can spend a lot of time and energy creating and maintaining these various social media outlets without actually realizing much results. And so while we embrace social media in medicine and beyond, we need to be cognizant as to the actual role of each social media outlet is providing for us. I think a better perspective is "what can I do for social media" not "what can social media do for me".

Let's review the major social media outlets. For each I will give you my personal experience and opinion:

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Defamation via Twitter? Doctor Files A $1 Million Suit In Oregon

physician legal

By Joy Tu, VP Medical Justice

A Lake Oswego doctor has filed what appears to be the first Twitter-based defamation suit in Oregon.

Dr. Jerry Darm is suing Portland blogger Tiffany Craig for $1 million, alleging she damaged his reputation with “false, defamatory and malicious” statements made online, according to a complaint filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

The case stems from commentary Craig posted on Twitter and on her blog, Criminallyvulgar, where the 31-year-old IT worker writes about everything from the recent passing of former governor and senator Mark Hatfield to computer technology, gaming, the treatment of women in comics and her large collection of shoes.

From the news story:

Craig said she was watching the 6 o’clock news one evening in late June when she saw one of Darm’s television commercials. The doctor advertises his business, Aesthetic Medicine, widely and appears regularly on local talk show segments to give advice on dealing with wrinkles and other skin and body issues, hair removal, leg veins and weight loss.

“Through idle curiosity I Googled him just to see what he was all about,” Craig said. “I found pretty much the same information as the television advertising. … It got me thinking about how you would find information about doctors or other medical professionals if you wanted, without the advertising.”

Later, she posted on Twitter that “a little bit of research into @drdarm revealed a pretty nasty complaint filed against him for attempting to trade treatment for sex in 2001.”

In a blog entry that followed, she mentioned the TV commercial, criticizing the ad’s “results may vary” disclaimer:

“Seen that around? Sure you have,” Craig wrote. “If you watch television in Portland Dr. Darm is ubiquitous. Especially on those local channels that show endless reruns of Two and a Half Men. He wants to fix you up good and spend thousands on cosmetic procedures that will get funneled straight into his Lake Oswego home.”

“What he should have added with his Results May Vary disclaimer is Dr. Darm Handed Over His Medical License Due To Disciplinary Action.”

In 2001, the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners reprimanded Darm for “an inappropriate boundary violation” after a patient complained he offered to accept intimate physical contact as payment for after-hours laser treatment of “spider” veins.

Darm also faced discipline in California and in Washington based on the situation in Oregon, where the state medical board required him to complete educational courses about doctor-patient boundaries and risk management and prohibited him from treating adult women without a chaperone. Those restrictions were removed from Darm’s license in 2009.

Darm’s attorney declined to comment on the case but Craig’s attorney, Linda Williams, has filed a special motion to strike Darm’s complaint under Oregon’s anti-SLAPP statutes, which aim to prevent any “strategic lawsuit against public participation” on the grounds of free speech.

This procedural protection allows a defendant to request review of a speech-based lawsuit early in the process so the court can consider whether there is any probability the plaintiff can prove the case, Williams said. “If there is not,” she said, “the court can dismiss the case.”

The protection applies to speech in a public forum on topics of public interest.

Williams contends that Craig’s comments – speech made in the public forum of the Internet – were opinions based on facts in publicly available documents. A hearing on the motion is set for later this month.

Quoted from the Lake Oswego Review story: Defamation in 140 characters or less

Of course this is a non-starter as a complaint and Dr. Jerry Garm is shooting himself in the foot. Instead of quitely asking Craig to remove her tweet (being read by probably 5 or 10 people), Dr. Garm now has made everyone aware of his previous issues and has many more people aware of his "inappropriate boundary violation" issue. Not the kind of thing that gets you ahead and certainly a suit that he can't win.

About: Joy Tu is the Vice President of Strategy & Business Development for Medical Justice, a company that protects physicians from frivolous lawsuits.

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AMA Policy: Medical Professionalism In Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogging & Physicians

A new policy on professionalism in the use of social media was adopted at the November 8th 2010 meeting of the American Medical Association. These basic guidelines represent one of the first steps by a major American physician organization to offer guidance in the appropriate use of social/new media.

It's pretty generic and basic stuff but it does recognize that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and other social networks are destined to become intimately intertwined with medicine.

The Internet has created the ability for medical students and physicians to communicate and share information quickly and to reach millions of people easily.  Participating in social networking and other similar Internet opportunities can support physicians’ personal expression, enable individual physicians to have a professional presence online, foster collegiality and camaraderie within the profession, provide opportunity to widely disseminate public health messages and other health communication.  Social networks, blogs, and other forms of communication online also create new challenges to the patient-physician relationship.  Physicians should weigh a number of considerations when maintaining a presence online:

(a)  Physicians should be cognizant of standards of patient privacy and confidentiality that must be maintained in all environments, including online, and must refrain from posting identifiable patient information online.

(b)  When using the Internet for social networking, physicians should use privacy settings to safeguard personal information and content to the extent possible, but should realize that privacy settings are not absolute and that once on the Internet, content is likely there permanently.  Thus, physicians should routinely monitor their own Internet presence to ensure that the personal and professional information on their own sites and, to the extent possible, content posted about them by others, is accurate and appropriate.

(c)  If they interact with patients on the Internet, physicians must maintain appropriate boundaries of the patient-physician relationship in accordance with professional ethical guidelines just, as they would in any other context.

(d)  To maintain appropriate professional boundaries physicians should consider separating personal and professional content online.

(e)  When physicians see content posted by colleagues that appears unprofessional they have a responsibility to bring that content to the attention of the individual, so that he or she can remove it and/or take other appropriate actions.  If the behavior significantly violates professional norms and the individual does not take appropriate action to resolve the situation, the physician should report the matter to appropriate authorities.

(f)  Physicians must recognize that actions online and content posted may negatively affect their reputations among patients and colleagues, may have consequences for their medical careers (particularly for physicians-in-training and medical students), and can undermine public trust in the medical profession.

Medical Spa MD {3} Dr. Setu Mazumdar & Physician Wealth Management

Episode 3 of the Medical Spa MD Podast: Dr. Setu Mazumdar of Lotus Wealth Solutions discusses physician wealth management.

The interview in this episode is with Dr. Setu Mazumdar of Lotus Wealth Management. Dr. Mazumdar is an MD who's now changed careers to become a financial and wealth management advisor specifically for physicians who are looking to get their house (and medical practice) in order.

We discuss how physician training does not equip docs with the knowledge and skills that they need to actually accumulate wealth, and how you can make some changes that give you control over your finances. Dr. Mazumdar details common mistakes that docs make and how they can be avoided.

If there's anyone who you'd like to hear interviewed or you think should be a guest on Medical Spa MD, please let us know or just leave a comment.

Social Media Marketing: Part 1

Last week we had a webinar on social media marketing and more than 70 Medical Spa MD Members signed up. I'd expected somewhere from 10-15 so having 70+ surprised me somewhat.

Alex Panagiotopoulos of Freelance MD explains basic Twitter functions for physicians running medical spas, laser clinics, and cosmetic medical practices

We had intended to post the entire webcast but, due to some technology issues, the audio wasn't usable. So, Alex was kind enough to recreate the entire presentation in smaller parts.

We'll be posting a number of 'how to' videos as they're available around social media marketing with easy step by step instructions, from how to set up your Twitter account, to advanced techniques on Facebook to attract followers and promote your medical spa.

This video is the first in this series, Social Media Marketing for Medical Spas: Part 1, Alex goes over setting up a Twitter account correctly.

Setting up a Twitter account for your medical spa, laser clinic or plastic surgery practice. of course you'll want to follow Freelance MD and Medical Spa MD on Twitter.

Plastic surgeons, dermatologists, laser clinics, medical spas, skin clinics and laser centers will all benefit from learning about the newest social media marketing tactics and strategies. Social media is growing and your cosmetic medical practice can benefit from it's growth with Twitter, Facebook, Blogging, SEO and do it yourself search engine marketing.

Facebook, Twitter, & Media Attention For Your Medical Spa.

We've already covered how to launch a Facebook page, what to post, and how to advertise your social media pages

The next step in getting more people to opt in to be marketed to is to find media, third party Facebook groups and influential Twitter users who will recommend or tout your information.

Every city has a bunch of blogs, twitterers, and Facebook groups whose sole reason for existence is to find local spa and beauty deals and to cover their experiences trying them out. They have large local followings who trust their source to be up to date and give them the best information possible. If you want to make a splash in your local scene of social media and beauty, you should definitely spend some time researching this.

Let's take a city like Denver, for example. There's a blog called Pamper Yourself! Denver, which highlights spa and beauty deals and giveaways. They also have a great Twitter feed, @denverbeauty, which has over 5,000 followers. If you have promotable events going on like giveaways and live procedures, or want someone with a local following to review your services, this is a great target. There is a "Contact Us" form on the blog, or you could tweet @denverbeauty to get their attention.

With some more googling, you can find that there's a producer at ABC-7 (KMGH, if you're keeping score at home) named Deb Staley. She has a popular weekly feature called Deb's deals, which has an online version found here. She also has a Twitter feed, with @debbiesdeals.  It is her job to report on local things that are on sale or when there's a special going on, and everyone who follows her on Twitter or reads her stories is actively seeking out that information. She's an ideal target to contact with your giveaway or special info.

Searching on Twitter for terms like denver beauty, denver spa, denver Botox, denver giveaway, denver doctors, etc. will give you info on what your competitors are doing to promote themselves as well as who would be interested in hearing about what you're doing.  @weheartdenver, with 840 followers who "heart" Denver, would be a great feed to contact with information on yourself.  @DNVDealofwk, with 1,600 followers would also be interested, provided you're doing a giveaway. Doing the same on Facebook comes up with Denver Fashion (164 fans),  Fashion Denver (1700 fans), Denver Fashion Beat(393 fans),  Denver Pure Fashion (71 fans), WOW Denver (71 fans).

So far we've only talked about third party sites that only exist to help out their readerships by promoting local deals and giveaways. Once your page is rolling, other potential targets are cross channel businesses, preferably those that already have their own Facebook pages. For example, in Denver, one could search on Twitter and Facebook for Denver nail salon, Denver beauty salon, Denver boutique, Denver lingerie shop. Send them a message and offer to give away a few of their products on your page to your fan base, if they reciprocate on theirs. You're marketing to the same people, so joining forces with related services can be a huge help.

Social Media For Cosmetic Surgeons & Medical Spas.

Social media is a major reason why traditional forms of media are collapsing across the country.

Major newspapers and tv stations are cutting staffs in half or closing up altogether, in the face of declining audiences and sagging ad revenues. Social media gives people the chance to create their own virtual newspaper, completely comprised of what they're interested in. If a topic is boring or irrelevant, it's gone. Social media groups and pages make this possible, because no matter what the topic, there's a social media group dedicated to it.

A 45 year old mom in Sacramento, for example, might not be interested in sports, but she likes California politics, wine, the TV show Lost, the actor Antonio Banderas, and beauty.  On Facebook, she can be a Fan of "California Senate Democrats", Red Red Wine - Sacramento, Lost, and Antonio Banderas. On Twitter, she can follow @CAPoliticsRSS,@thegrandwinebar, @Lost_initiative, @oficialantonio, etc. When it comes to beauty in Sacramento, she can follow her hair salon, favorite spa, plastic surgeon, etc.  Every day when she logs in, she'll see what's going on in the state senate, hear about last night's Lost episode, read about Antonio Banderas' upcoming movie, and see all of the specials, before/after pictures, and upcoming events at her favorite local beauty providers.

These are all examples of direct social media exposure. Someone knows who you are, they become your fan/follower, and whatever you post will be seen by them. We've already covered how to start and sustain this attention in previous blog posts. Once you're established with existing customers and patients, the next step is to get random local consumers who are interested in you to find you.

One extremely cost-effective method is to buy pay-per-click Facebook advertising for your fan page.  These 160-character ads with a small JPEG and link to your Fan Page will run down the right side of certain certain people's web browsers while they are on Facebook.

The beauty of PPC Facebook advertising is that it can be extremely targeted, and you only pay for the local people who click on the ad and check out your Facebook page. If you have a promotable event coming up, such as a giveaway day or a live procedure that you are performing on Facebook, they are highly recommended. 

For example, you can specify that you only want the ad to be seen by women between the ages of 18 and 64, within ten miles of Sacramento, who list an interest in any of the following: beauty, shopping, tanning, travel, jewelry and spa days, the TV shows Nip/Tuck, Real Housewives, Glee, and Jersey Shore.  You can add as many keywords as you like, and remember that due to the public nature of Facebook profiles, few people are going to brazenly volunteer to the world that PLASTIC SURGERY, BREAST AUGMENTATION, AND INJECTABLE FILLERS are their interests. But they will say they like beauty, or the tv show Nip/Tuck. 

According to Facebook, this ad will be seen by 14,200 people, and there will only be a charge of about 60 cents every time someone clicks on it to go to your page. The odds are pretty good that if someone lives within ten miles of your practice, likes the keywords above, and clicks on an ad that says a local med-spa is doing a live cosmetic surgery procedure on Facebook or is giving away beauty products, that they'll want in on the action.  You can set a minimum budget of $10 a day. If you are investing money in advertising, you have to promise yourself that you will keep the Facebook page updated with good content, or else it's a waste of money.

Be creative! Valentine's day is coming up. If you have some sort of spa day or gift set special that you'd like husbands to get for their wives, put up a detailed post with pictures and video on your fan page, and then create an ad that targets local men over 30 who mention having a wife in their profiles.

Just like with traditional media, there's paid PR (advertising), and earned PR. You have to convince third parties to cover you. Our next social media post will cover this! 


Medical Spa MD Members get a Podium patient review marketing account and save $1,257

Protect your reputation. Get new patients. Medical Spa MD Members receive a special, full service Podium account that includes: no setup fee (save $300), a 10% discount forever (save $330/year) and on-demand patient review marketing training for your entire staff ($597 value).  This offer is not available anywhere else.

What Should Your Medical Spa Post On Facebook

We started with what to do if your medical spa doesn't have any Facebook fans. But 'content' that your patients want is what will drive readership.

Once your medical spa or plastic surgery marketing page is built and you've have a kickoff to get local potential patients aware of you, you should have at least several dozen people on your Facebook and Twitter pages.  The next step? Engaging them.

Always keep in mind the kind of in your face exposure this is going to bring.  When people are your fan or follower, whatever you write is going to appear in their "feed."  When people sign in to Facebook and Twitter, they are presented with a list of posts from everyone they have opted to follow. 

For example, when your made-up cousin Sally logs in to her Facebook account, she sees a post from her college boyfriend, a note from her mom, an invitation to a Tupperware party from her neighbor, and if she is a fan of your practice, your latest post.

If you are posting things that don't interest her, it is extremely easy for her to delete you from her account.  If you are posting things that interest her or add value to her Facebook experience, it is extremely easy for her to recommend you to her friends. If you don't have something good to say, don't bother! 

Facebook is great for embedded multimedia like pictures, video, and links, so simply writing text like "Come in and get Restylane for your lips, everyone is doing it!" is like buying a Ferrari and keeping it in first gear.  Instead, show people why they should come in and get Restylane injections.

An easy to digest mix of entertainment, usable tips, and reality content that shows off what you do best is a winning formula.  For example, over the course of a week, you could compare "The Octomom" Nadya Suleman's "trout pout" lip filler results with your own before/afters, have your aesthetician give ten winter makeup tips, and post a hand-held video (using a FlipHD video camera) that one of your assistants shot of you performing a procedure.

Posting your own reality content can even garner local media attention, just for the novelty that you are performing cosmetic surgery or injecting Botox live on Facebook. 

Any of this content that showcases your expertise in a fun and interesting way provides you with easy exposure.  Keep your website URL and phone number in several places on your fan page, so if someone sees something that sparks their interest, they can get in touch with you.

The biggest follow up question many doctors ask after this is, "How often should I post?"  As it says above, if you don't have something good to say, don't bother. Just posting endless plastic surgery liposuction ads or touting your laser hair removal treatments is a short trip to the off-list. But, if you have quality content, then set up a schedule and figure out what you'll do for the next month. 

Give your patients a feeling that they know you. A post every other day is fine to start and the more personal the content is, the better.


Medical Spa MD Members get a Podium patient review marketing account and save $1,257

Protect your reputation. Get new patients. Medical Spa MD Members receive a special, full service Podium account that includes: no setup fee (save $300), a 10% discount forever (save $330/year) and on-demand patient review marketing training for your entire staff ($597 value).  This offer is not available anywhere else.

Why Doesn't Your Medical Spa Have Any Facebook Fans?

Marketing your clinic via social media is a bit different from what many medical spas are used to.. but as more plastic surgeons, dermatologists and medspas add Facebook and Twitter that's going to change.

Taking out a half-page ad in the local paper, buying radio time, or getting a PR placement showing off your latest procedure, are all one-way forms of communication. It goes out, and people will either take action, become aware of you, or do nothing.

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, are a two-way form of communication that requires people to opt in. Besides some nominal SEO benefits, they are only as effective as the number of local Fans and Followers you have who are interested in what you do. You are still sending out messages at your discretion, but people can choose to receive it, and even send instant feedback.

If you’re paying someone in your office to log into Facebook every day, post your latest Botox special, and there are only 10 people receiving that message, you are wasting time and money. No one is receiving the message and, no offense, people will not “opt in” to hear about your Botox specials every day. If people wanted to see advertisements constantly, TiVo wouldn’t exist.

The key to social media marketing for your medspa is finding a way to break through the protective barriers that people have. TGI Fridays certainly did.

TGI Fridays is a restaurant chain that in September, started a big social media push. They created a fictional character named Woody, gave him a Facebook fan page, and started an ad campaign: everyone who becomes Woody’s fan on Facebook will get a free burger on October 1st.

They did some advertising, got some press, and most of all, it was an event that gave people reason to tell their friends about it. The oft-used buzzword “viral” applies here… word of the promotion spread like a virus. With social media, it takes about three mouse clicks to tell all of one’s friends about something you found.

Woody garnered about a million fans, and on October 1st, TGI Fridays dutifully gave out the free burgers.

Today, in January, 2010, Woody still has 945,000 fans. Whenever TGI Fridays wants to market to a large number of people who already have a positive impression of them, and have demonstrated that they enjoy eating hamburgers, they have instant exposure.  For example, on November 17, TGI Fridays got massive exposure for a new happy hour promotion.

We’re marketing cosmetic products and treatments, and not hamburgers, but it still applies. Using a giveaway model on the local level can make yourself the talk of the town, and get hundreds of people to “opt in.”  If you are giving away beauty products and treatments, local people will sign in if they are interested in that sort of thing.  After the giveaway, you can market to them however you please.

It clearly doesn’t cost TGI Fridays a lot of money to give away a hamburger; and when people got their hamburgers, they also probably got fries, a drink, and some dessert.  A giveaway winner in your office can potentially get other products and services.

What could your medical spa be giving away?


Medical Spa MD Members get a Podium patient review marketing account and save $1,257

Protect your reputation. Get new patients. Medical Spa MD Members receive a special, full service Podium account that includes: no setup fee (save $300), a 10% discount forever (save $330/year) and on-demand patient review marketing training for your entire staff ($597 value).  This offer is not available anywhere else.

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