The power of the viral post

Emily Mongan
Emily Mongan

It happens just about every time I go to look up a new restaurant online — the good reviews get overshadowed by one keyboard-happy person who dedicated a chunk of his or her day to writing a small novel bashing every detail of the restaurant, from what the server was wearing down to the soap in the bathrooms.

These kinds of reviews always trip me up. No matter how glowing the other reviews are, you have to wonder if there was some truth to that one negative review. On the other hand, the restaurant could be just fine, and the ranting reviewer was either having a bad day or is a budding writer with a lack of an outlet outside of Yelp.

For as tricky as the medium of online reviews can be for the consumer, I imagine they must be even trickier to navigate for the business owner on the receiving end. Especially when that scathing review goes viral.

That's the situation one Indiana provider found itself in last week, the subject of a graphic post that at my last check has been shared more than 40,000 times and racked up nearly 20,000 comments.  

The comments on the post are largely supportive of the resident's family that wrote it, sending well wishes and condemning the Signature HealthCARE facility. Several local media outlets also have run stories on the post, putting the facility in a not so great light.

So what can a provider do to lessen the blow when a review like this goes viral? While the situation isn't ideal, one could benefit from handling the issue the way Signature has — by acknowledging the backlash with social media posts of its own.

Signature's responses don't take a defensive stance, but instead tout the work of the facility's staff and ask the public not to cast judgment based on one social media post. The posts also include a promise of action, with the provider stating that it has launched an investigation into the family's allegations of neglect.

Did the responses clear up the issue entirely? No, of course not. The comments sections of the responses are filled with residents' families backing up the facility, along with some less-than-desirable comments and fights between the two groups.

But what posting the responses does is show the public that, even if the facility was at fault, its staff is listening to the concerns of the community and taking them to heart instead of staying silent and letting the ruckus die down.

As social media and review sites like Yelp make it easier for anyone to share their nursing home experiences, it's important for providers to have a plan in place for when the feedback escalates from the occasional negative review.

Even if it's just a quick post acknowledging a widely publicized issue, responding to the community online will become an important part of long-term care facilities' outreach efforts. It shows that the provider is listening to the community member's concerns, even when those concerns come in the form of a scathing online review.

Follow Emily Mongan @emmongan.


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McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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