Dos & Don’ts for Dentists Looking to Broadcast More Online Reviews

Keys to Generating & Broadcasting More Online Reviews for Your Dental Practice

In today’s social local world dentists must incorporate some type of online review strategy in order to effectively communicate and amplify the all-important digital word of mouth communication that drives their new patient acquisition efforts.

Eliciting, capturing and broadcasting online reviews for the average dental practice is not rocket science…and it’s not expensive.

For those unfortunate dentists desperately seeking the necessary strategies and tactics to amplify their digital word of mouth but unwilling to put in the work to implement the system, there certainly seems to be a boatload of ready and willing online reputation management companies (read: money grubbing scams…most of ‘em at least) near and far willing to help you out – for an arm and a leg…and possibly a sprinkling of legal action.

Who doesn’t need more of that, right?

Is it legal for dentists to buy online reviews?

Dentists Should Grab Every Online Review They Can, No Matter Where it Comes From…

Uh, no.

With that caveat in mind, let’s examine some obvious and not so obvious – because some clueless ego-driven dentists out there still aren’t getting the digital word of mouth message – dos and don’ts of online review generation for the average dentist.

1. DO ask patients to leave you a review. This is probably the most important factor for dentists looking to up their online review street cred. If you don’t ask, you won’t get what you want!

2. DO make it easy for patients to leave you an online review on a wide variety of social media communities, local search portals, search engine environs, and dental-centric apps.

Ex: You probably send a newsletter every month; add links on there to 5 of your most frequented social media sites, local search engine listings, or internet yellow pages profiles – and ASK FOR A KIND WORD OR TWO! Better yet, send a specially crafted email message immediately following their appointment.

3. DO reward patients that take the time to leave you or your dental practice a stellar online review…with a good ‘ol fashioned heartfelt sincere “THANK YOU.”

4. DO setup an internal and external system of eliciting, capturing, and publishing online reviews about your dental practice.

5. DO keep asking…do you know how many times it takes to ask the average person to publish an online review about their dentist before they actually do it? I don’t either, but if someone has those numbers we’d certainly be interested in debating the dental-centric skinny. Point is most humans need a good swift kick in the ass before we even go TO the dentist…never mind actually taking the precious five minutes to write something nice about our friendly local social neighborhood dental superstar. (enter the automated review generation system)

Sounds pretty simple right?

So why would ANY dentist out there pay upwards of $200-500 per month to have some unscrupulous online reputation management (read: overseas child labor) publish false positive reviews about them and their practice?

My guess is ego, but really I don’t have an answer. What I do know is that if I ever found out my dentist was publishing fake reviews, I would hightail it out of her office so quick the scheduling coordinators head would spin.

So What Should Dentists NOT Do to Gain More Online Reviews?

1. DON’T buy online reviews. Full stop: It’s not worth it, you’re better than that, act like you’ve been there, have a little self-respect, respect your team, don’t be so gullible, and put down the nitrous oxide. There is no shortcut to online dental practice review success; positive digital word of mouth needs to organically come from your patients. Are you that desperate for recognition? Take your ball and go home if so, the savvy patients will find another dentist to play with.

2. DON’T limit yourself, your patients, or your practice to only asking for online reviews in one or two online environments. Google+ Local is a great place to showcase reviews, and those gold stars look great next to your listing (psst…you need 5 reviews in order to have those stars show up on search results) but to increase your Google+ Local rankings you should build additional citations…and Google loves it when those additional citations include REAL online reviews.

Citation building for dentists

3. DON’T bribe your patients to leave online reviews about your dental practice. Aside from being incredibly tacky, this type of pay to play rewards system (hello, Medicare scams anyone?) borders on illegal depending on where you are in the country – or world. Besides, wouldn’t you rather have people speak highly of you without the greasy palm?

4. DON’T try to capture all of your reviews with a kiosk, or iPad, or laptop IN YOUR OFFICE. We have a few practices that have been successful generating online reviews at their office location by having patients post them while they are in the waiting room…sorry, reception area. But this tactic is actually a violation of Google’s and Yelp’s terms with respect to online reviews. They will know all your reviews are originating from your office IP address and put the smack down on your digital word of mouth before it even has a chance to pass through the system into the wild. You could plead ignorance is bliss, but at the very least diversify your efforts – remember to THINK ORGANICALLY!

PS – Recommendations on Facebook, and reviews on other sites are free game for this game-changing digital word of mouth amplification tactic.

5. DON’T fall victim to thinking you won’t be able to generate enough online reviews for your dental practice to make a difference. A few well-crafted thoughtfully presented honest reviews of your dental practice can go a long way with new patient acquisition. The grass is always greener but sometimes it stinks like $h*t too…your local competitor may have a running ledger of online reviews numbering in the dozens but that doesn’t mean you need to keep up with the Jonses. Besides, patients are pretty savvy these days, they can sniff out a fake review faster than your tooth colored cement dries – and remember, the other local small businesses they buy from aren’t so scrupulous with their online review generation tactics….but you’re better than that!

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+Chris Barnard is the Managing Partner at Social Dental Network, a boutique digital marketing agency consistently generating tangible return on investment for dentists across North America & the U.K.