Dental Marketing: Lawsuit Looks at Slander in Negative Online Reviews

Dental Marketing: Lawsuit Looks at Slander in Negative Online ReviewsDentists, just when you thought there was no hope for combating negative online reviews, Virginia contractor, Christopher Dietz is suing a former customer, Jane Perez for a negative online reviews she wrote on Yelp and Angie’s list.

What makes this case encouraging is that the judge has already granted Dietz a temporary injunction against Perez and has ordered the ex-client to change her online reviews.

Perez had written online that the contractor not only performed shoddy workmanship, but some of her jewelry had also disappeared. She further wrote, “Bottom line do not put yourself through this nightmare of a contractor.”

Dietz didn’t take her negative posts lightly, and sued Perez, stating that not only had he completed the job as contracted, but performed more work than was agreed upon and still has not been paid.

Deitz further contends that the negative online reviews have cost him about $350,000.00 in business.

Slander is a legal term for stating a falsehood and presenting it as true which could harm the reputation of a person or business. In the case of Perez, if contractor Dietz did not steal any jewelry (and apparently there is no police report stating that he did) then Perez could be found libel for defamation of character and Dietz would be able to collect damages.

Some might argue that the lawsuit seeks to squash Perez’s right to free speech, but freedom of speech does not protect you from the consequences of free speech.

Perez can offer an opinion like, “I was not happy with the quality of work.” But she cannot say things like “He is a ripoff artist who steals from his clients.” One statement is an opinion based on feelings the other is a statement that she’d have to provide proof that he is a “ripoff artist who has been convicted of stealing from clients.” Technically, you can’t bear false witness, so when leaving an online review, the review must stick to the facts, like “I had to wait two hours for my appointment,” or “My steak was medium when I asked for rare,” or “The toy broke the minute my son picked it up,” and so forth.

It’s been difficult for dentists, as well as business owners to get used to the idea that a dental patient or a patron can complain about their business in such a permanent, public way and the courts are scrambling to legally catch up to this new technology.

And lawsuits themselves can bring more unwanted negative publicity.

Deciding to sue can paint a dentist into a more negative light with the general public than the damage done by the negative review, but what does a dentist do if the online review is truly defamatory?

Hiring an attorney to manage the process of suing the reviewer in court can be extremely costly, so a dentist would need to weigh the costs against any revenue loss directly attributed to the negative review.

The Wealthy Dentist has advised dentists to instead use the money to initiate an aggressive Internet dental marketing campaign to counter the review. Immediately addressing the review in a calm manner can also help quickly counter what the reviewer has said.

Typically the general public does not search past page two of online search results and this is where a dental practice’s online engagement can help bury a negative review. Facebook Pages, Twitter pages, YouTube videos, and Pinterest pages all show up high in search.

If a dental practice has taken the time to develop an internet dental marketing plan for their online presence (using the dentist’s name and the dental practice name) they can fill the first page of Google with their own social media presence.

Regularly updating a blog and writing press releases can also help control what dental patients find when they search for a dental practice online.

If need be, dentists can use the money they would spend on an attorney to buy Google ad space for their dental practice covering the dental practice name, the dentist’s name and a geo-targeted search term like “North Beach dentist.” This will place the dental practice at the very top of search for a period of time. If a dental practice can push the negative review site from the first page of search with content and social media they’ve created specifically for dental patients, they can begin to counter the damage caused by a negative online review.

Recent publicity surrounding negative online review sites and their vulnerability to false negative reviews by competition, or personal vendettas have caused people to question the validity and trustworthiness of consumer review sites. Parodies like Joe Plummer’s “Real Actors Read Yelp Reviews” have further shown just how ridiculous online reviews can be and the lack of oversight by the review sites themselves.

Bodyform even got into the act by responding to a Facebook rant with a video parody making fun of the cliches surrounding women’s use of their feminine products while directly answering the review. Their humorous video response quickly went viral.

Keep in mind that a negative online review can add validity to the positive online reviews. It can make a dental practice appear more balanced and one negative online review in the mix will make most people think it was a difficult dental patient instead of a bad dental practice.

But no business should have to deal with slanderous, vindictive reviews and eventually online review sites are going to have to figure out a way to deal with the libelous reviews, regardless of anti-SLAPP. Eventually a business owner will win big over a slanderous review and online review sites will be forced to set stricter review guidelines.

Would you have sued if a dental patient made the same type of claims against your dental practice that Perez made about Deitz?

To read more about contractor Deitz’s lawsuit see: Virginia Contractor Sues Woman for $750,000 for Bad Yelp Review.

Facebook Dental Marketing (Video)

Dental marketing with FacebookFacebook dental marketing is picking up steam.

But a lot of dentists still don’t know how to use social media for internet dental marketing.

“It’s educational for new and current patients,” said a Minnesota dentist. “Facebook is a necessity in today’s social media driven society.”

“Not a huge hit yet, but lots of potential for referrals from our patients that not only ‘Like’ us, but love us: our raving fans,” said an Illinois dentist.

We conducted a survey asking dentists if they have a Facebook Business Page. About two thirds of the respondents have one.

Jim Du Molin and Julie Frey discuss how dentists are using Facebook in their dental practice marketing:

Most dentists use Facebook for dental practice marketing in the following ways:

  • to share basic information about their business
  • to share content like videos and images
  • to connect with current dental patients
  • to offer specials and discounts

About one third of our surveyed dentists use it for connecting with peers in dentistry.

Half of the dentists who aren’t on Facebook said they’re just not sure what to do.

“I don’t use it very well or very much,” said a California dentist. “I also don’t really know what to do. I’m sure it’s something I SHOULD be doing. I wish I could learn and arrange time to do everything I SHOULD be doing.”

“I’m not sure how the best, most cost-effective way to use it in a way that fits our practice,” wondered an Alabama dentist.

The best thing to do is to use Facebook as just one part of your overall internet dental marketing strategy — link your dental website and your practice’s Facebook profile to attract more new patients.

“We are able to connect not only with our own patients, but also with their Facebook friends when they like or share one of our posts or videos,” said a Missouri dentist. “It helps us to get the word out.”

Does your practice have a Facebook page?

Dental Marketing: Negative Online Review Appears as a Facebook Page

negative dental page on FacebookIn the past The Wealthy Dentist has written about negative online reviews in such articles as Appeals Court Says Yes to Dentist Lawsuit Against Patient for Online Review andWhen a Dentist’s Relationship Goes Bad on the Internet — both stories about harmful dental critiques posted on review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List.

But in August of this year, Chris Cook of Bakersfield, CA, pushed negative online reviews to a new level.

It was reported in dental news site DrBicuspid.com that Mr.  Cook took his 5-year-old son to see Bakersfield pediatric dentist Edward Dove, DDS, for a tooth extraction. Mr. Cook claims Dr. Dove mistreated his son during that visit by extracting a tooth before the child was adequately sedated.

According to DrBiCuspid.com, Cook stated that his son vomited up most of the sedative, screamed, and urinated on himself while allegedly being held down by three dental assistants during the procedure.  Allegations Dr. Dove vehemently denies.

Chris Cook decided to take matters into his own hands and created the “I Hate Dr. Dove of Bakersfield” page on Facebook, attracting more than 200 members in its first 48 hours.

Luckily for Dr. Dove, Facebook does have a policy for pages with the word “hate” and considers them in strict violation of their terms of service.  They swiftly moved to shut down the dental hate page.

Cook was undaunted by the Facebook boot, turned around and created a second Facebook group page, “Bakersfield dentist DOES NOT ROCK!!!!!!!!!” which is still up and active.

Dr. Dove has handled the situation by defending his treatment in the press and pointing to his 23 years in practice without a single disciplinary action. He has chosen not to engage with Chris Cook on his Facebook page, and was quoted in Dr Bicuspid as saying, “I think my reputation will be hurt a little bit, but right now I just want to calm down,” Dr. Dove said, “This guy is going ballistic, he’s trying to smear me, and I’m getting bullied.”

But should Dr. Dove be more concerned?

Just how significant are bad reviews for the future of your dental practice?

A new survey by market analysis firm Cone, Inc., found that four out of five consumers have reversed purchase decisions based on negative reviews found on the Internet. Another survey by Ratepoint found that 40 percent of consumers indicated they are more likely to consider a local business when they respond to a negative online review.

In the case of a Facebook page being dedicated to hating a dental practice, a dentist has little recourse since the unhappy page creator would have to allow the dentist to join the group page in order to issue a response.

Dentists have had little luck in defamation lawsuits when it comes to negative online reviews since the courts tend to look upon unhappy reviews as free speech. In a recent defamation case in California, a dentist has been ordered to pay $80,000 in attorney fees to the parents who posted a negative online review.

So how do you combat something like a negative Facebook page?

By making sure your dental practice has more than one website that appears on the top pages of Google when your business (and personal) name is searched online. Also have your own Facebook page, or pages for each type of treatment you offer. Have a Twitter page and make sure your practice is listed in as many dental directories as you can find. The idea is to control what appears on the first page of Google about your dental practice. Regular press releases help with this too.

For solutions to multiple name search and directory listing go to: www.InternetDentalAlliance.com.

For more on this story see: Facebook Pulls Plug on Angry Dad’s Antidentist Page

Top 10 Dental Marketing Articles from The Wealthy Dentist

Top 10 Dental Marketing Articles from The Wealthy DentistDental marketing is essential to the success of a dental practice and dental marketing is on the minds of many dentists as 2011 draws to a close.

Dental practice marketing can be one of the dentists’ greatest challenges and in the current volatile economy — greater even than running a dental practice and managing a dental staff.

The Wealthy Dentist has compiled our top 10 dental marketing articles to help dentists boost their dental profits in 2012.

Top 10 Dental Marketing Articles from The Wealthy Dentist

1. Dental Marketing: 7 Ways To Turn Your Dental Office Into a Hot Marketing Machine
Dental marketing is more than just a geo-targeted, search engine optimized dental website and an effective email newsletter marketing plan. It also involves branding and an effective dental office display…[Read more]

2. Dental Marketing: A Guide for Avoiding Negative Online Reviews
In customer service it used to be said that an unhappy customer would tell nine to fifteen other people about their negative opinions. Today an unhappy dental patient can influence hundreds of people by leaving a negative review on an online review website… [Read more]

3. Dental Marketing with Google Offers
Who in their right mind wouldn’t want $421 dental package with exam, X-ray and take home whitening for life for just $59! I’d sign up personally if I lived in Portland. This is exceptionally great marketing title that grabs the most jaded consumer by the throat…[Read more]

4. Dental Marketing: Google Offers vs. Groupon
Not long ago Google tried to buy Groupon for something like 6 billion dollars. Groupon turned the offer down. Within a month Google started Google Offers. Mike Blumenthal’s blog reviewed the early test results on Google Offers for the local Portland beta test…[Read more]

5. Dental Marketing: Geo-targeted Local Search Strategies
According to Google, 97% of consumers search for local businesses online. A geo-targeted local search strategy makes it easier for your dental practice’s prospective new patients to find your dental website and your practice. But what exactly is geo-targeted local search? …[Read more]

6. The Essentials of Dental Patient Marketing: Dental Office Presentation
Marketing your practice through a powerful dental office presentation strengthens your identity, reminds people of your dental practice and is simply good business. Dental practice marketing may seem — to the dentist —like an overwhelming task…[Read more]

7. 5 Simple Online Marketing Strategies for Dentists
The right Internet dental marketing strategies have been proven to grow a dental practice and attract new patients. With over 5,000,000 searches for “dentist” online, it’s now more important than ever to have a viable web presence…[Read more]

8. Dental Marketing: How to Set Up a Google+ Dental Practice Page
Google has launched Google Plus For Business which now allows dentists to create a Google Plus Page for your dental marketing. Google Plus For Business is a set of tools that can help you grow your dental practice and enhance your dental marketing efforts…[Read more]

9. Dental Marketing on the Internet: What is the Value?
Social media has joined the Internet dental marketing toolbox along with multiple targeted websites and directory listings that are now required for maximizing new patient flow. Dentists measure many things in order to determine if their actions justify the cost…[Read more]

10. Dental Marketing: A Doctor and His Dog
As much as many of you would like to think that you should be drawing patients from across the country with your marketing, the truth is that the average urban/suburban dental practice draws close to 90% of its new patients from within a geographic circle of 6 to 8 miles…[Read more]

The Wealthy Dentist keeps its word. Since 1985 Jim Du Molin has been giving no-hype dental marketing and practice management information that can help dentists attract more patients and better run their practice.

Internet Dental Marketing: How Google Search Plus Your World Works (video)

Internet Dental Marketing: How Google Search Plus Your World Works (video)Are you curious how the changes to Google search will impact your Internet dental marketing?

Search Plus Your World is what Google is calling their personal search algorithm intended for the users of Google Plus.

When a Google Plus user is signed into Google, their search results will be very different from searches done outside of Google Plus. Search Plus Your World will include photos, blog posts, and recommendations from the user and their friends.

They will see the personal results and the profiles of people they know (or follow) on Google Plus included in their search results. They will also be able to expand their Google circles by discovering people and brands related to their search —  Google will be offering these recommendations to them too.

If the idea of Search Plus Your World has you a little confused, Google has provided the following video, which shows how Google intends personal search to look for the Google Plus user —

These changes to Google search mean that individuals will play an ever-growing part in search results from Google.

Dentists can help their Internet dental marketing efforts by creating and sharing dentistry-related content as always, but with a new attention directed at Google Plus. Maximize impact by educating your dental patients on who you are and how you can help.

What are your initial thoughts about Google’s Search Plus Your World, and how is your dental practice using Google Plus?

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