It’s often said that talk is cheap but when it comes to trash talk about your practice, it can be disastrously expensive. If you’re not monitoring what’s being said online about you, your practice and your competition, you’re missing out on the sort of market intelligence that can make or break your business.
You can, of course, pay an employee or outside agency to monitor Facebook, Twitter and the ever-growing roster of new social networks out there — not a bad idea — but you can get a jump on the process with a few clicks of your mouse by signing up for Google Alerts.
Simply put, Google Alerts troll the Internet to see what’s being said about you (or other topics of interest) on websites, blogs and social networks and forward the results to your email account. It’s essentially an ongoing, customized search that eliminates the need to input search terms over and over again.
And it couldn’t be easier to use. Simply go to http://www.google.com/alerts and input the word or phrase (e.g., your name or practice), what you want Google to monitor (news, blogs, discussions or everything) and how often you want to see the results (once a day will probably suffice). Click “Create Alert” and the results will be delivered to the inbox of your choice.
The number of Alerts you can set up is unlimited but for most doctors a handful will suffice. The following 3 subject areas offer good places to start:
You and your practice
Every doctor should have alerts set up on their name and variations of their name to leverage Google’s regular indexing of new content. You can (and should) also set up alerts for your practice name, Twitter handle and any other online identities linked to your business. If someone posts a positive comment or a link to your blog, you can follow up with a thank you message; conversely, if someone posts a negative comment, you can reach out in an effort to resolve the issue before it goes viral.
You and your competition
Monitoring other doctors’ presence online can be invaluable in determining how to compete with them. Are they posting frequent updates to social media sites? Writing articles or answering consumer questions or getting mentioned in the local paper? Likewise, if they’re receiving kudos from consumers, what is that they’re doing to warrant such praise — and is it worth emulating their efforts? Alerts can help you make more informed decisions as you develop your own online efforts.
You and your profession
Keeping tabs on new products, procedures and consumer trends can be a full-time job all by itself. Maybe you’re curious about JeNu or considering investing in PicoSure. Whatever the subject, you can create an alert for it to see what aesthetic consumers are interested in, whether other doctors are pursuing similar opportunities and any related trends, issues or newsworthy developments.
That’s a lot of market intelligence for a few clicks of your mouse and zero dollars.