So how would you answer the question? Do you know? What sites have you checked? When did you last check?

Over 90% of consumers use internet reviews when choosing a product or service.  The number is not quite that high for senior living, but it is significant.

Do you know what people are saying about you?   

Are you making an effort to control your online reputation? 

Based on the searches I have done, many senior communities are doing little or nothing.  In fact I am surprised at how often I see a community with a single review and it is terrible. . . . not you right?

Your Marketing Program

Whether you have an online reputation or don’t; one of the most effective steps you can take to maximize your overall online marketing program is to know what your online reputation is, and make sure it’s accurate and positive. Let me start by saying that if you run shoddy senior housing, care and/or services, that your time is much better spent cleaning up your operations.  It makes no sense to focus energy controlling a bad online reputation when it is deserved.  Not that every negative online review is necessarily valid, but trying to squelch negative online comments and reviews when your services are substandard is akin to playing whack a mole – you’ll never get them all.

How You Handle Negative Reviews

But, let’s assume that’s not you.  How you handle negative reviews speaks volumes about your company, not just to the complainer, but to everyone else who reads the interaction.  The internet is rife with conversations between consumers and businesses where a complaint or negative review is met with an improper or unprofessional response.  These retaliatory responses, born of frustration or emotion do exponentially more damage to a company’s reputation than the original negative comment. By contrast, negative reviews or complaints posted online handled professionally and courteously serve not only to minimize the negative affect, but can actually help to foster a positive reputation.   A customer is not happy and vents online (bad); the business apologizes and offers to correct the situation (good), extending courtesy and expressing appreciation for bringing the issue to their attention (even better). Now let’s consider the impact of positive online reviews and comments.  William McClain, MBA, Strategic Branding & Communications Specialist with Sage Age Strategies tells me, “In the senior housing industry, community reviews are very important from an SEO standpoint and are increasingly essential for building a strong brand and growing sales for your community. Online reviews are becoming the “Go To” option for those shopping for senior living services—especially among the web-savvy adult children of aging parents—and are often used as the objective third-party source for making the purchase decision. Generating positive reviews and controlling your online reputation can boost your search ranking and your brand reputation.  Clearly, social media has taken traditional ‘word of mouth’ to an entirely new level.” On Sunday this series will conclude with some specific recommendations for increasing building your on-line reputation.

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