How to Protect Your Residence’s Reputation Online
Your residence’s brand is who you are in the eyes of seniors, their loved ones and other senior living professionals.
Your residence’s reputation is one of your business’ biggest assets, and one of the most challenging assets to maintain in the digital age.
Failing to prioritize how others perceive your residence online can have major repercussions for your credibility, trustworthiness, and ultimately the success of your entire business.
With 83% of potential clients deeming reviews for healthcare and care services ‘important’ or ‘very important’ (BrightLocal, 2022), ensuring that you’re leaving a glowing impression on your clients is paramount to maintaining a great reputation.
Below are 4 steps to building and protecting a reputation to be proud of:
1. Research and Audit
The first step to reputation management is research. In this initial phase, you’ll discover what people are saying about your residence online. Right now, it’s important to factor in everything you see—good or bad—because it will give you a sense of where your residence stands in the eyes of prospective residents.
Parse through reviews left by senior living professionals, current and former residents, and their loved ones on review sites, Google, and your social media profiles. Be sure to also conduct a simple search for your residence’s name on a variety of search engines. For a more robust picture, also search for keywords relevant to your residence or senior living in your local area, and through some of your competitors’ digital feeds.
Once you’ve developed a firm foundation of where your residence stands, and the types of things people are sharing about you, you can start planning for your reputation’s future.
Create a dedicated presence across relevant social media
If your senior living residence is not already present on a variety of social media platforms, it may be a nice place to start. If something negative is said about your residence, you’ll need to be ready to respond promptly.
In addition to having profiles on places like Facebook or LinkedIn, consider having accounts on question-and-answer forums like Quora or Reddit, and review sites like caredupon.ca. These sources are likely beyond where your marketing team prefers to promote your residence, but they’re a valuable way to track the conversations that are being had about your residence and find commonly asked questions.
Monitor your digital footprint
In order to control the perception of your brand, it’s useful to observe key metrics to watch for any posts or comments that could be tied back to negative experiences with your residence. Sharp, unusual spikes in traffic on your website, Google listing or social media profiles can be caused by positive or negative press—both of which are worth investigating.
When responding to mentions of your residence online, timeliness is paramount. Consider setting up a tool like Google Alert to get notified as soon as you’re mentioned. Google Alerts will notify you of new stories or posts associated with your residence’s name as they happen.
How to Set Up a Google Alert
- Navigate to Google Alerts.
- In the box at the top, enter the name of your senior living residence.
- To change your settings, click Show Options. You can change:
- How often you’ll be notified
- The types of sites you’ll see
- Your language
- The part of the world you want info from
- How many results you want to see
- What accounts get the alert
- Click Create Alert. You’ll receive an email when Google finds matching results.
2. Establish a Reputation Management Strategy
Now with a sense of your residence’s overall public perception, you’ll know which areas you’ll have to focus on to improve it. As an example, imagine that you’ve found out that your residence’s reputation has been damaged by a handful of negative reviews. You’ll want to begin making changes to improve the experiences that residents, their loved ones, or senior living professionals have with your business.
Creating or updating an image management strategy will be your next step. Your reputation building plan should include the following:
A set of robust online policies, expectations and procedures tailored to each department of your residence. Marketing and sales departments are likely to be the most involved with your digital presence, but care staff, kitchen staff or external senior care partners may also want to post about you. Ensure that there’s clarity around:
- Who is allowed to use social media for your senior living residence
- Which digital platforms you’ll actively engage on
- What team members can and can't do or say on behalf of your brand
- Guidelines for personal social media use
Make these rules easily referenceable and present in your internal procedural documents. Since social media is constantly evolving, be sure to keep the conversation around your digital ground rules open.
Along with regular best practice reminders, encouraging iterative feedback from your team members will allow your residence to remain current and agile in your digital communication.
An Online Reputation Monitor
Assign specific people at your residence to keep their finger on the pulse of your brand’s image. They’ll be tasked with conducting ongoing reputation research, maintaining an awareness of your residence’s current brand goals, and monitoring incoming messages, reviews and comments.
Giving ownership of these tasks to particular team members makes it easy to ensure that all your brand’s digital communication is consistent and timely.
Marketing, customer service or sales team members are already client-facing and are likely to possess the skills necessary to ensure smooth direct-to-client digital communication.
Set your online reputation monitors up for success by creating situation-specific online response guidelines. Afterall, the best responses will be the ones you plan— knee-jerk reactions to online comments can come off as rude and be damaging to your residence’s perception.
It’ll also be important to consider a crisis management plan to inform your digital team’s responses during situations that escalate quickly or are difficult to control, like a particularly scathing news report or slanderous reviewer.
Two key types of adverse scenarios to prepare for are:
- Complaints: Poor experiences that can be resolved through collaborative action.
- “Reputation Bombs”: Dishonest negative reviews, poor media coverage, or an appearance on a defamatory website.
Below we’ve defined a framework for you to create a “Tone Guide” for your brand to help support your team’s online communication strategy.
A “Tone Guide” for Responding Online
89% of consumers say they would be ‘fairly’ or ‘highly’ likely to use a business that responds to all reviews, positive and negative (BrightLocal, 2022).
With this statistic in mind, frequent replies to reviews with high quality responses can profoundly support the development of your residence’s positive reputation.
A key part of creating quality review responses is a defined “brand voice”. Writing for and about your residence in a specific way helps future residents develop an understanding of your brand and lays the foundation for consistent digital communication. If your residence is seen responding rudely to criticism but positively to compliments, it can create an unfavorable, inconsistent impression with prospective residents.
Tone Guide Basics
- Consider Your Audience: How do your current residents, their loved ones or other senior care professionals already speak? You’ll want your brand to come across as something that shares their values, seeks to connect with them authentically, and communicates with words they understand.
- Position Your Brand: With your clients in mind, take a moment to consider how you’d like to portray yourself to them. What pain points does your residence hope to address? Are you an educator, a comfort provider, an authority, or something completely different?
- Play Nice: No matter how you define your residence, you’ll probably want to avoid being seen as angry, aggressive or uncaring. Prepare responses to both positive and negative feedback to handle each situation with grace. You never know who may come across your reviews.
- Learn From Mistakes: Sometimes the best laid plans don’t go as expected, and that’s okay. Protect your brand’s reputation by taking responsibility and allowing the situation to become a learning experience. For example, if a pre-drafted response did more harm than good for a negative review, use this insight to create more effective responses to avoid a repeat of the issue.
3. Gather Social Proof
79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (BrightLocal, 2020), while just 4% trust paid spokespersons or ads, to guide their buying decisions (Inc, 2019).
This is the essence of “social proof”. Your reputation and credibility rely heavily on the way that others talk about your residence online.
Gather and nurture social proof for your brand by delivering incredible care, encouraging advocates to post about you on social media, and by inviting satisfied residents or their loved ones to leave you positive reviews on a variety of platforms.
With nearly a quarter (23%) of senior living sales coming directly from online sources (Creating Results, 2018), having a strong, consistent reputation across your digital presence can positively impact your bottom line.
Reviews posted to your Google listing or Facebook pages will help with your omnichannel reputation management strategy, 93% of consumers on Facebook and 90% on Google have indicated that they're at least 'a little’ suspicious of the honesty of the reviews (Brightlocal, 2022).
Using a vetted third-party review platform reviews can help support your brand’s trustworthy reputation and help prospective clients and their loved ones feel more confident engaging with your residence.
Platforms like Cared Upon have already established trust as a client-focused digital information hub and offers care providers a unique opportunity to view and respond (or resolve) reviews before they’re posted. This feature separates this platform from Google or Facebook where care providers have no control over who, or what is posted about their business.
Cared Upon’s thorough vetting process keeps damaging reviews at bay, while supporting mutually beneficial client relationships between residences and the seniors who receive care from them.
4. Take Action Based on Comments, Feedback, and Reviews
Understanding how your residents view your brand is a valuable tool for guiding business decisions based on real data. It’s important to realize just how valuable each review is—they’re an incredibly rich source of client feedback.
Negative feedback illuminates areas of your senior living business that need improvement, while positive reviews let you know what your residence is already great at and should continue doing.
Taking action based on comments, feedback, and reviews helps you manage your reputation and leaves prospective clients with the impression that your residence’s management team is responsive, open to feedback, and committed to making meaningful changes that your current and future residents want to see.