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When considering taking the plunge into the social networking world of Facebook and Twitter, many doctors we work with are concerned that they will open themselves up to negative comments from patients and/or employees.  While you certainly need to be concerned with negative comments, ignoring these sites will not solve the problem.  In fact, negative comments can be posted about you on these sites, whether or not you use them yourself.

If someone is disgruntled, they will complain somewhere. In the past, “somewhere” was usually limited to their friends, family, or coworkers. Today, more and more people will use social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter, or they will post ratings and reviews in various online directories.

When joining these sites, some people expect that they will be able to remove negative comments, but in general this is not the case.  You can not delete things that someone else posts on Twitter. On Facebook, if you have your own Fan Page, you can delete things others post to it; however, if that same person posts a comment about you to their own page, you can’t do anything about it.

In general, the less you participate in these various sites, the harder it is to influence the conversation. If someone has something negative to say, they can post it to a review site and/or on a social networking site.

On the other hand, If you have a presence on these sites for your medical practice, you can increase the chances that patients who have something good to say will say it.  And in the end, that is the best way to deal with any negative comments.  After all, no one is perfect.  When people read reviews, they don’t expect perfection.  If you have many positive comments along with the rare negative, people will focus on the positive.  But if you only have a few negative comments, with no positive reviews and no voice of your own, you’ll reduce the number of new patients that you see.