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The Difference Between Brand Reputation and Online Presence

As online channels continue to take up more space and influence, medical practices have to catch up and build a strong online presence so they can raise brand awareness, reach potential patients, and drive growth.

Your online presence refers to anything that a potential customer can find about your company and services, whether that information is on your website or a third-party platform. Patients might search for a related service and end up visiting your website or reading your blog. Others may be browsing Facebook and come across your social media profile or a paid advertisement. Either way, to make a favorable, lasting impression and gain patients’ trust, you need to build up your online footprint. At the same time, brand reputation management strongly impacts the number of patients you attract and retain as well. 

While they are closely linked, there’s a difference between brand reputation and online presence. Both influence the way potential clients perceive your practice, but your brand reputation management makes up only one part of your online presence. You can influence how others see you by managing the quality and presence of your online reviews, but online presence is much bigger than just reputation. 

To simplify the difference between brand reputation and online presence, let’s put it this way — online presence makes you relevant, whereas brand reputation management makes you credible.

Focusing Solely on Brand Reputation Management Isn’t Enough

clearly highlight the importance of working on your brand reputation to make an impression of a trusted, caring, knowledgeable, and experienced healthcare provider. That’s why it’s understandable if you opt for solutions that only offer brand reputation management to improve your reputation.

Still, this approach is one-dimensional and doesn’t let you achieve your full growth potential, especially since these solutions don’t allow you to proactively acquire patients and grow your business. Soliciting patients for reviews or surveys is important for improving your reputation and being seen when patients look for you. However, a robust online presence means all-around visibility of your practice on all important platforms, such as search engines, social media, and review websites. 

Understanding the difference between brand reputation and online presence will allow you to carefully choose different elements that complement each other and improve your online visibility. That way, you can create a consistent and positive impression in the minds of the patients no matter how they find you or choose to interact with you.

Knowing Where to Start

Your online presence is the path to your practice’s front door. To ensure that more and more patients walk down that path, you need to put yourself in their shoes. Once you understand their interests, problems, and desires, you can improve your online presence and tune it to your patients’ demands.

Think about the ideal patient you’d like to attract to your practice. How old are they? What’s their current health status? Or socioeconomic status? The answer to these and similar questions will help you determine important factors, such as which social media platforms they might use and how they spend their free time. Such information can help you determine where to focus your efforts, how to speak to your prospective patients, and consequently improve your online presence.

The next step is to audit your current online presence and make a list of everything that’s present and everything that’s missing. Here are some questions to start with:

  • Do you have a website? Is it up to date—does it provide all the necessary information and user options? Do you have a regularly maintained blog?
  • Which social media platforms are you on? Do you post regularly there? Do you engage with your audience? Is the visual identity of your profiles aligned with your brand?
  • Are you present on relevant review platforms? Are reviews pouring in? Do you interact with those reviews—especially the negative ones?
  • Do your practitioners have their own professional online presence? Do they use it to promote the practice? 

 Once you’ve done that, go through the following steps on the platforms you use:

  • Confirm and correct all listings and details,
  • Validate entries of name, address, and phone (NAP) plus descriptions and details,
  • Update all personal and business profile opportunities,
  • Locate all local directory listings, and
  • Make a list of all open opportunities to improve your online presence.

What ELSE Falls Under the Online Presence Umbrella?

In addition to understanding the difference between brand reputation and online presence, forming a clear understanding of your ideal patient, and evaluating your current online presence, you have to choose other components to improve it. 

To avoid getting lost in the crowd, it’s necessary to create a collective presence with several strategies that work together:

Have A Website that Addresses Current and Future Patients

Your website is the primary component of your online presence: it is the only online asset that you are always in full control of and where the visitors’ attention is exclusively yours. This is where your patients and leads expect to find detailed information, schedule an appointment, pay their bills, or perform other important actions.

To attract new and retain current patients, it’s imperative that your website is up-to-date, in line with your brand, properly optimized for search engines, and easy to navigate. Users should be able to easily understand what services you provide, find your practice locations, and access free online resources that answer frequently asked questions about your services.

Be Active on Social Media

The versatility of the content you can put out through social media platforms makes them excellent channels to provide patients with resources for information and improve online visibility. Still, you must approach this strategically and remember to protect the privacy of your patients at all times

The social platforms that are best for your practice depend on where your patients spend their time—you don’t need to maintain a presence on each of them. If you’re on multiple platforms, don’t simply post the exact same content. Instead, try to take advantage of the unique features of each platform to maximize your reach and give your audience carefully tailored, helpful content they can’t get elsewhere.

Optimize GBP listings

Google constantly makes changes to its algorithm and the way your practice is displayed in search results is an important factor in consumers’ decision-making process. That’s why it’s necessary to set up and optimize your Google Business Profile (GBP) listings. Google reports that complete profiles are twice as likely to be perceived as credible, so make sure to fill in every section and add as much information as possible.

After you’ve optimized your GBP, it’s important that you maintain its activity. Start by regularly updating your holiday hours—to showcase reliability, for example, or by reading your patient reviews and responding to them in a timely manner—to strengthen both your online presence and your brand reputation.

Get Your Reviews in Shape

A strong online presence shines a bright light on your brand reputation—so you want it to be nothing short of spectacular. Entice your patients to write reviews and testimonials about your practice, and don’t underestimate the power of kindly replying even to negative ones. Since people trust reviews as much as personal recommendations, this can work wonders for your healthcare business and build trust among your existing and prospective patients.

Be Present on Review Platforms

While most users will focus on your Google Business Profile reviews first, informed and empowered patients are also drawing information from dozens of large, reputable, and easily searchable doctor review sites. Create your practice accounts on the most relevant ones, such as HealthGrades, RateMDs, Vitals, etc., and don’t be just a spectator—engage with users instead. Whenever possible, investigate and follow up with both positive and negative online comments to prove trustworthiness and readiness to resolve any issues.

Invest in Paid Search Advertising

If you want to increase your leads through Google search, paid search advertising is the fastest way to do so. Pay-per-click ads (PPC) will improve your online presence and help you reach your target audience. 

Advertising isn’t the least important step, but it’s the last one to make this list. Why? Because establishing a strong online presence through previously featured, organic steps will optimize your advertising efforts. Wherever your prospective patients end up as they click on your ads, it positively reflects on your advertising costs and ensures a great impression as they do so. 

Using a Multi-Faceted Approach to Improve Online Presence 

Improving online visibility is beneficial for many reasons. It gives you and your practice the opportunity to be seen, known, and found while ensuring you stay connected with both prospective and existing patients. Both algorithms and patient preferences are changing all the time, and you need to keep up.

It’s easy to get confused when it comes to different components of online presence and prioritize some more than others. Managing negative business reviews and encouraging satisfied customers to contribute more positive feedback is an integral part, but don’t forget there’s a difference between brand reputation and online presence. 

Instead of focusing on singular methods, you need to establish a multi-faceted approach to deliver and refine your online presence, align yourself with the needs of your patients, stand out from the competition, and create an online footprint that brings your practice to the top of customers’ minds as well as search results.

With the heightened emphasis on all things digital in our lives, it’s critical for healthcare organizations not only to be present online but also to deliver a positive and lasting impression. 

We believe that your online presence is the foundation of your healthcare marketing strategy and it’s SocialClimb’s mission to empower you with data so you can choose strategies that help you remain present on all the channels your patients are using and stay at the top of search results. Once you create a relevant and evolving online presence, you can make sure people are finding you for the right reasons and convert leads into loyal patients. 

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