Dentists: Fake Negative Online Review Nets Business Owner 150K

Dentists: Fake Negative Online Review Nets Business Owner 150KOver the past three years The Wealthy Dentist has covered stories regarding negative online reviews and how dentists should handle them as part of an overall dental marketing strategy.

We’ve agreed that no one should be allowed to post an anonymous reviews against a dentist, because the costs to a dental practice can be high, and the dentist has little hope of investigating the circumstances to turn the situation around.

Not to mention the real possibility that the dentist might be dealing with an anonymous derogatory review that is actually fake.

The best a dentist could do was soften the impact of the negative review online is by responding with positive attributes about his or her dental practice. Any attempt to sue over a negative review always seemed to favor the poster of the review — not the recipient.

But it seems the courts are finally starting to take notice.

Recently, the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld a $150,000 putative damage reward to a plaintiff for defamation caused by 3 fake online reviews.

In 1999, Peter Mitchell and Michael Hosto co-founded a property damage restoration company. Their restoration business was so successful that in 2003 they created BoardUp, Inc., a lead generation service for restoration companies covering five area codes that encompassed significant portions of central and eastern Missouri and the southwestern portion of Illinois.

The partners successfully ran the companies for 4 years until a deterioration in their relationship and the commencement of litigation forced Mitchell and Hosto to dissolve their business associations by entering into a Settlement Agreement in 2007. As a result of the agreement Hosto ended up with BoardUp and Mitchell ended up with the restoration company.

But Hosto was apparently not happy with how the settlement came down.

Hosto went online and posted 3 fake negative reviews about Mitchell and his restoration work. According to court records the first two reviews were posted on March 31, 2008, on Google and Yahoo, respectively. In those fabricated reviews, Hosto used the names of prior customers of the restoration company to create detailed accounting of dealings with Mitchell that encouraged potential customers to avoid contracting with the company.

Here are 2 of the fake reviews:

1. 1st Review on Google (there were 2) –
Grade: F. Dealing with these people was the single biggest mistake I have ever made in my whole life. I[t] was a miserable experience and the job was done so poorly we decided to sell the house. They were great salesman [sic] but their workman [sic] were idiots and the owner was not willing to help in any way. I was so happy just to get them out of my life I paid them much more than I should have because their law firm threatened to lien my house if I disagree[d] with any part of their bill. All I can say is if they show up in your front yard in the middle of the night after your house catchs [sic] on fire, RUN! Do yourself a favor and call your insurance company and get a referal [sic] for legitimate business people.

2. Review on Yahoo –
They were a pain in the neck when I least needed one! Like the other guy [,] The Fire Works Restoration Company showed up in the middle of the night while the firemen where [sic] still putting out the fire. Their emergency board up guys were great. I liked them so much I decided maybe they weren’t so bad when a salesman from the Fire Works Restoration Company showed up the next day. Then they offered to do a “Free Estimate.” So [F]ire [W]orks was a lot higher than the other company. [T]hey got into a long drawn out fight about 1) the cost to remove the water and 2) the cost to dry out the house and 3) the cost to rebuild the house and 4) the cost to clean our stuff. The whole thing turned out to be such a nightmare that I figured it was just easier to deal with the insurance company contractor (the one these guys told me was gonna rip me off!!!!). [S]o when I told them I was not going with them then they sent me a bill even bigger than the first that the insurance company already said they didn’t want to pay. [T]he [F]ire [W]orks guy said it was a “supplement” and the first bill was not complete. [T]hey wanted an additional $1,700 more than the first bill (which was already too high!!!). Moral of the story–––people that seem nice usually are nice but not always.

As soon as Mitchell discovered the negative reviews, he initiated a “John Doe” lawsuit to ascertain the identity of the poster of the online reviews. Yahoo identified Mitchell’s ex-partner, Hosto as the person who posted the negative review on its website. Ultimately Hosto emailed Mitchell admitting that he had posted the negative reviews. Mitchell then brought a defamation suit against both Hosto personally and his company, BoardUp. In response, Hosto filed a counterclaim alleging defamation against Mitchell.

A jury agreed with Mitchell in his personal defamation claim against Hosto and only awarded him $1.00 in actual damages, but awarded him $150,000 in punitive damages. In addition, the jury rejected both Mitchell’s defamation claim against BoardUp and Hosto’s counterclaim against Mitchell.

At first review it might be hard to understand why the jury only awarded Mitchell $1.00 in actual damages, but this may be because it is difficult to prove that a potential customer who Mitchell has never done business with actually decided not to employ the services of his company based on a negative online review.

But the $150,000 in punitive damages does send the message that online posters are responsible for the negative reviews they leave online.

In a research study by Cone, Inc., they found that 80% of consumers have changed their mind about purchases based on negative information that they found online and 87% claimed that positive reviews reinforce their purchasing decisions.

In the future a dentist may very well be able to prove that his or her dental practice was adversely affected by a false negative review and will receive a more sizable actual damages amount.

Have you ever experienced a fake negative online review? How did you handle it?

For help in handling negative online reviews, see The Wealthy Dentist’s dental marketing article, Dental Marketing: A Guide for Avoiding Negative Online Reviews

Online Video is Hot: 181 Million in U.S. Watched Over 36 Billion Videos in April

Online Video is Hot: 181 Million in U.S. Watched Over 36 Billion Videos in AprilComScore, Inc., a leader in measuring the digital world, reported that 181 million U.S. Internet users watched nearly 37 billion online content videos in April with video ad viewing reaching a record-breaking 9.5 billion — representing 1 out of every 5 videos viewed online in April.

Video ads reached 52% of the total U.S. population an average of 60 times.

The more popular video ads are ones featuring the Olympics, which is no surprise considering  the opening ceremonies are just two months away.

One of the current trending Olympic ad videos is Visa’s “Go World,” featuring Morgan Freeman’s voice matched with footage from past Olympic games.

Click on Play to see why this video has become so popular —

With YouTube celebrating their 7th year anniversary this week there seeming to be no end in site for the world’s appetite for online video.

Dentists are you still not sure about utilizing online video for your dental marketing?

The Internet Dental Alliance provides informational videos that dentists can optionally include in their New Patient Portals.

These professional videos educate current and prospective patients on dental topics like cosmetic dentistry, tooth whitening, braces, dental implants, and more.

Stop by the IDA Dental Video Marketing Opportunities page and read all about Internet video marketing.

For more on the ComScore U.S. Online video statistics see: Video Ad Delivery Continues to Soar to New Heights, Representing 1 in 5 Videos Viewed

Black Friday Christmas Food Court Flash Mob Hallelujah

Black Friday Christmas Food Court Flash Mob HallelujahThis week’s Friday random video comes to us from a mall food court during holiday shopping.

With over 35 million views on YouTube, this video stands as one of the world’s all-time favorite “flash mob” videos.

Talk about a brilliant Internet marketing move, this flash mob was organized by Alphabet Photography to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. More than 100 singers from the Chorus Niagara were coordinated to rise from their seats in a shopping mall food court to sing the Hallelujah Chorus.

It became an instant Internet sensation and went on to be an iTunes download and Alphabet Photography was inundated with free press coverage, phone calls and emails from around the world.

Click Play to watch this wonderful video —

This further proves that the success of Internet marketing lies with the ability to create content people naturally will want to share.

Here’s hoping your Christmas shopping is as enjoyable.

For the complete story behind this flash mob video see: Hallelujah! Christmas Food Court Flash Mob Video – Why Alphabet Photography’s YouTube Gift Went Viral.

Friday Random Video: Millions Find the Orange Annoying

Dentists: have you heard of Annoying Orange?

Annoying Orange, a popular YouTube series with more than 850 million views, is now getting a show on Cartoon Network.

The YouTube phenomenon is centered on an anthropomorphic orange named The Annoying Orange, (often simply referred to as “orange”) voiced by creator Dane Boedigheimer.

His partner, Spencer Grove, writes the plot of the majority of the YouTube episodes. Orange resides on a kitchen counter, which he shares with his best friend Pear, a Bartlett pear, also voiced by Boedigheimer. (Wikipedia)

According to Wikipedia, the channel is ranked as the eighth most subscribed channel, and 30th most viewed. There are currently more than 2,000,000 subscribers to the YouTube channel realannoyingorange.

Click on Play to hear just how annoying an orange can be –

The characters all seem to have great teeth … I wonder who their dentist is …

Enjoy your Friday random video and have a great weekend!

Why Google Is the Only Search Engine You Need to Worry About

When it comes to internet marketing, search engine positioning is your most important concern. And while there are lots of search engines out there, the savvy web marketer knows that Google is the only one that really matters.

The latest numbers from June show Google controlling 63% of the web search market, with about 10 billion searches per month. That means that two out of every three web searches went through Google.

Yahoo! had 19% of the market, and Bing (the Microsoft search engine introduced last year) was in third place with 13% of searches.

Yahoo! has announced that it will soon use Microsoft’s Bing for its own organic search infrastructure, but the transition has not yet taken place. Yahoo! has indicated that the switch could take place as early as next month, or as late as next year.

Organic searches are the search results that come up naturally when a person searches for a keyword or keyword phrase. Paid search results are sponsored links that are part of pay-per-click (PPC) web marketing campaigns. Paid search listings typically are displayed above organic search results in a shaded section, or to the right in a sidebar.

While some dental practices use PPC dental marketing, organic search engine optimization is the real goal of dental website marketing. Your search engine ranking (how high your website ranks) depends on the quality of your website content, your keyword optimization, and incoming links from other websites.

When people talk about “search ranking,” they almost invariably mean Google ranking. The holy grail of SEO is for your website to display on the first page of Google search results (that is, in the the first 10 search results) for your target keyword phrases.

To see how your dental practice website ranks with Google, just enter in your target keyword phrase — for example, “cosmetic dentist Tulsa” or “Van Nuys dentures.” And cross your fingers!

If you’re on the first page, you’re doing well. If you’re in the top 3, your SEO is excellent. But if you don’t see your site on the first page of results, it may be time to review your site’s search engine optimization. Internet Dental Alliance specializes in optimizing the SEO for its dental websites.

Understand that in competitive markets, a search engine optimization company will charge you from $400 to $1,400 a month per website, with no guarantee of results. In fact, any company that claims it can guarantee you placement on the first page of Google is misleading you. In the ever-changing world of internet dental marketing and search engine technology, there can be no guarantees.

A note about Google searches: if you’re logged into Google or Gmail when you conduct your search, your results will NOT be the same as what other people will see. Google tracks information (like your location and interests) to display custom search results that it thinks will be most relevant to you. To see the same search results as potential patients, make sure you’re logged out of Google and use the “Private Browsing” option under the “Tools” section of your Internet browser.

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