The New Word of Mouth Math

Remember the old Faberge shampoo commercial starring 80s’ bombshell Heather Locklear? If you are too young, Google it. The gist was if you tell two friends about the awesome shampoo, then they’ll tell two friends… and so on and so on and so on.

Today, we refer to this word-of-mouth campaign as viral marketing, and Locklear’s estimates are seriously low-balled given the advent of social media and how it has changed the way we communicate.

Social media sharing is word of mouth marketing … on steroids. A decade or so ago, one unhappy patient might complain about a less-than-perfect experience, but today that same unhappy patient can literally broadcast her displeasure to thousands of fans and followers in a matter of seconds. He or she can also take to review sites to turn up the volume further. We see this time and time again. A good doctor with a reputable practice can become the focus of one dissatisfied, angry patient online (and everyone has some of those) and it becomes a marketing nightmare.

Those fans and followers can (and will) share the rant with their own fans and followers, and there you have it – a reputation killer. The same paradigm holds for medical device manufacturers, pharma companies and skin care brands. Once someone gets burned, they turn to social media to spread the word, and spread it does. The biggest dilemma is that many of these comments are made anonymously which makes them harder to track, pin down, or even respond to. HIPAA regulations add another level of complexity to this process for healthcare professionals, and the decks become stacked.

But what if this power could be harnessed to spread good words too?

It can. The power of social media lies in its capability to create vocal brand ambassadors for your products and services.

Listen. See what your fans, friends and patients are saying about you in the office and online. What do they like? What don’t they like? If they are not disclosing this info, ask. Social media platforms provide instant access to positive or negative feedback too.

React. Fix the negatives quickly and effectively whether long in-office wait times or complaints about a product or procedure. If someone is vocal online about a negative experience, respond and take the conversation off line ASAP. You are on the clock. Today’s patients expect insta-feedback. The same holds for positive feedback. Thank individuals for their support and kind words and encourage them to share their experiences with friends, family and followers.

Share: Online reviews of products or services should be prominently displayed on separate and individual pages of your website and promoted throughout your site, with direct access from the main navigation. If your new sunscreen is getting rave reviews on social media, amp up marketing efforts in the office and elsewhere.

With the new math, a happy or a dissatisfied patient will tell 1,000 “friends”… who will tell 2,000 friends and so on and so on. Bad news spreads faster than good news so you need to pay attention to the buzz that is around your brand.

Need help with your practice marketing? Have a question we can answer? Reach out Anne@wendylewisco.com

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