Veterinarians have been under attack on social media in recent weeks. Negative posts, comments & false reviews have been posted, and the term “cyber-bullying” has been used.
What does “cyber-bullying” mean? To me, when these posts or reviews come from non-clients and are inaccurate, it becomes cyber-bullying.
I’ve heard stories of individual practice’s getting inundated with negative reviews from strangers, and I watched the AVMA’s Instagram account get bullied during their annual convention.
Yesterday, the America’s Favorite Veterinarian contest was “halted due to cyber-bullying.”
You can’t fully prevent cyber-bullying, but you can be prepared for handling it in 4 simple steps.
1) Determine your veterinary practice’s position, and own it.
The Internet has created an unprecedented level of transparency in our lives. Not everything we do in veterinary medicine is glamorous, but you should feel comfortable with the work you do. If you don’t, it’s time to re-consider the types of services you offer.
This blog isn’t about discussing the morality of controversial procedures, like de-clawing or ear cropping. My 2 cents on that aspect of things is simple: Each veterinary practice should make a personal decision and be prepared to discuss their position on social media.
If you aren’t ready for that level of transparency, you’re not ready to do business in the modern age!
2) Use protocols, notifications & settings to your advantage.
Prepping for a cyber-bullying attack on your veterinary business is an important step. While I can’t offer anyone complete piece of mind, I do have a few suggestions:
- Ban “bad words” from your Facebook account. (Watch the tutorial video here).
- Use apps, like the Google My Business app & Facebook Pages App to monitor notifications.
- Have a team protocol for how to respond to any negative reviews/posts.
3) Report inaccurate reviews.
Most sites, like Facebook or Google, do not want inaccurate reviews to be posted. If non-clients have shared false reviews on your pages, report them. I’ve included links below to speed up this (super enjoyable) process! (I might be being sarcastic here. Reporting these things won’t guarantee that they get removed overnight, but you should still do it!)
- Report inaccurate reviews to Facebook here.
- Flag any false Google reviews as inappropriate by clicking the flag icon next to the review, then contact Google about inaccurate reviews here. (I’ve heard calling works best).
- Flag any false Yelp reviews for review, then email email@example.com
4) Focus on the positive.
The cyber bullies attacking veterinary hospital’s Facebook pages & Instagram accounts aren’t clients of those practices. For every cyber bully, there are hundreds – if not thousands – of legitimate veterinary clients who love their veterinarian. Not only that, but your practice’s existing or potential customers weren’t born yesterday. They can see past inauthentic reviews and posts from strangers.
If your practice gets flooded with negative attacks, don’t take it as a personal attack. Don’t react in the heat of the moment, and don’t let it weigh you down.
Instead of focusing on the negativity, remember that you have clients who love and support you. Reach out to them to get good reviews and positive stories to outweigh the inaccurate posts any cyber bullies might have posted.
[Related: How Mendon Village Animal Hospital Got 52 Positive Google Reviews]
Getting attacked by a bunch of strangers might seem terrifying in the short term, but if it is an unjustified attack, it will blow over.
Some additional resources for online reputation management that I’d recommend are:
– Dr. Andy Roark’s free e-book, 10 Tips for Handling Negative Comments & Reviews on Social Media
– AVMA’s new online reputation management tools