The Importance of Socially-Based Review Sites
Thursday, September 1, 2016
by Jake Laban, MBA, Total Social Solutions
“You can no longer be a jerk and get away with it.”
This quote is from a good friend of mine; a young, successful cosmetic surgeon starting his new practice in a world that is unlike the one surgeons knew just ten years ago.
Of course, he is speaking about review sites. Cosmetic surgery practices will thrive or die based upon online review sites. Surgeons can either stick their head in the sand to ignore this reality or radically change the way that they look at the decision-making tools used by prospective patients.
Generally, review sites can be broken down into two types; the more traditional online review sites, and socially-based.
TRADITIONAL REVIEW SITES
Sites such as Vitals, RateMDs, HealthGrades, ZocDocs, and CitySearch have been popular for than a decade as a repository of ‘crowd-sourced’ reviews from people who may, or may not, leave their actual identity for surgeons whom they may, or may not, have actually visited.
Over the past five years, these sites have become less popular as the legitimacy of their reviews has become (rightfully) questioned. There are many reports of surgeons using these sites to damage competitors’ reputations with anonymous and fraudulent reviews.
As these reports become more prevalent, the public’s level of trust in the validity of the reviews on these sites has dropped, and their attention has turned to more ‘legitimate’ sources of ‘real’ reviews. However; these sites are not without controversy of their own.
SOCIALLY-BASED REVIEW SITES
Review sites atop the backbone of social networks (i.e. Yelp, Google+ or Facebook) have become far more popular over the past four years. Through these sites, prospective patients can see the reviews of surgeons from people in, or proximate to, their personal peer group. These sites represent the intersection of local, social, and search, where geo-location mobile technology allows users to get relevant and local reviews from their friends, instantly, on their mobile devices.
In other words, socially-based review sites represent word-of-mouth on a mass scale. Through these review sites, every prospective patient has the ability to make or break a cosmetic surgery practice with the use of their mobile device. These sites give the aesthetic patient a great deal of confidence in deciding whom to see for a consult. Surgeons who ignore these sites today will fall behind their competitors in years to come.
These sites are not without a great deal of controversy. They do employ strict filters in response to the abuse suffered on the traditional review sites. Additionally, these social media platforms force a user to use their actual identity on the social network, or employ filters that will not allow anonymous or potentially fraudulent reviews.
Decision-making has changed forever. As tech giants such as Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft focus their efforts on giving customers more relevant, geo-located search results; social-media-based review sites will become a more important part of a cosmetic surgeon’s marketing plan for years to come.
For more practice management success strategies and tips, look to the Practice Management educational track at the 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting, coming up Feb. 9-11 in San Diego.
Article originally appeared in AACS Surge magazine.