Monitoring your online reputation

Are you being cyberbullied?

AVMA can help. AVMA members have free access to a cyberbullying crisis line at (626) 531-1140​ staffed by the experts at Bernstein Crisis Management.

While the Internet and social media may create new kinds of work for you and give potential critics a platform to complain publicly, they also offer you extremely powerful tools to monitor and respond to what is being said about you. We may lament the ease with which social media makes it possible for our critics to air and publicize complaints; but online media also open a window through which we can hear our critics’ conversations for the first time. Complaints that previously have been spread person to person, through word-of-mouth channels, have now come out into the open where we can monitor them.

Even if you don’t feel ready to curate and maintain an active social media presence, you can and should be using social media and other online tools to monitor what is being said about you. You may never have the need to jump into the conversations, but simply knowing about them can give you an early warning system that can help prevent problems from growing out of control. And monitoring doesn’t have to be difficult or extremely time-consuming; there are free tools available to help limit the workload.

What you should be doing

Monitor both the Internet and your clinic’s social media feeds for signs of trouble, and pay particular attention to your environmental scanning during high-risk periods following any incidents where a client has complained or may have had a negative experience with you or your practice. This reputation monitoring checklist will get you started and tell you how frequently you need to be doing different activities. It also includes helpful links to resources you can use along the way. Following are some key points to remember:


Make sure that you, or whoever is assigned to monitor or maintain your online presence, gets notified immediately when comments or posts are made on your social media channels. You can usually set this up through the social media platform.

  • Competent
  • Confident
  • Compassionate

Sign up for free Google alerts to notify you whenever you or your clinic is mentioned somewhere online. You can also use Google’s Me on the Web to set up alerts on key people. You can choose to have alerts sent to your designated email address as they occur or on a less frequent basis; but we recommend you set it up to be notified immediately as alerts occur. That will allow you to respond as quickly as possible.

  • Set up alerts for your clinic’s name, your own name, and the names of other key clinic staff.
  • Set up a Google alert for the following: [your clinic name] [state ]veterinary review.
  • During high-risk periods, or on a regular basis (at least weekly) if possible, search real-time reputation monitoring sites such as Social Mention and Topsy (both are free) that provide indications of the tone (positive, neutral or negative) and passion level of comments. These sites also can help you identify influencers.
  • Search complaint sites weekly (more often during high-risk periods) for your practice’s name and the names of key staff. Go Fish Digital has a free search engine that searches more than 40 complaint websites. Ripoff Report​ is another one to search.

There are also many fee-based monitoring services available, but they often are unnecessary for veterinary practices.

How often you should monitor

DURING HIGH-RISK PERIODS7 out of 10 cyberattacks on veterinarians are initiated by former clients or staff

Because approximately one-half of online attacks begin within 72 hours of the inciting situation, you should expect to expend some increased monitoring effort during the few days that follow any incidentthat is, assuming you’re aware of the incident that sparked the reaction. During the first 72 hours, or as long as there is continued moderate to high activity, you should be monitoring your social media channels at least several times daily and checking real-time reputation sites and complaint sites at least once daily.


Notifications of comments and posts and Google Alerts should be set to real-time, as-it-happens notification at all times, to facilitate early detection and response. Monitor social media channels each time you postat a minimum, once daily. Check reputation monitoring sites and complaint sites weekly.

The reputation monitoring checklist defines tasks you should be doing every day, every week, and with less frequency.

How AVMA can help


Cyberbullying warmline – AVMA members who are facing an immediate cyberbullying situation have free access to advice from crisis management experts from Bernstein Crisis Management. Just call (626) 531-1140​ at any time. As an AVMA member, you receive up to 30 minutes of free consultation and adviceenough to help you stem the tide of attack in most situations. You also qualify for significant discounts if you want additional consultation.

Reputation monitoring checklist – Use this checklist to set up and maintain your business' reputation monitoring program.

This resource was developed with the assistance of Bernstein Crisis Management.