For more than two years I’ve been working with social media to build brand awareness and share important health information for the hospitals I represent. Our current arsenal includes Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Over that time, I’ve seen an explosion in the use of these tools among hospitals. Now, just when we build a comfort level with these networks, a new one breaks onto the scene.
Google+ has arrived. At first, it was in beta, and an “invitation” was needed to try out this new social network. Now, Google+ is available to the masses, and as of this writing, its usage surged 1,269 percent, catapulting it into the top 10 social networks. Last week alone, it tallied 15 million visits to its site. While that’s peanuts compared to Facebook, it could very well become a formidable contender.
So what is Google+? It’s a social network designed to be a fierce competitor for existing networks like Twitter and Facebook, and it carries the weight of the Google brand. It shares some characteristics of both, and yet goes well beyond in some ways as well.
There are some features within Google+ that are incredibly appealing.
Circles: You can build lists within your G+ community and organize it in ways that are helpful to you. That means you can share information with some of your community but not others. For hospitals, that means you could have circles for media, individuals in the community, other hospitals, etc.
Hangouts: This feature is extremely appealing. It allows you to have video chats directly within G+ with multiple users. For hospitals, I can imagine chats with doctors on hot topics or even interviews with journalists quickly and easily.
Following a conversation thread: When someone comments on a post, the comments appear directly beneath it–very similar to Facebook and very unlike Twitter. It makes it easy to see and understand a thread.
Will hospitals use it? I truly believe Google+ holds some great features that would be useful to hospitals as they continue to engage with people in social networks. That said, it’s also one more network for which to build content, and then monitor and engage with your social media audience. With few hospitals having resources dedicated solely to social media, the burden may be too great in terms of the amount of time required to manage another social network.
The other question is how successful will Google+ be. The “early adopters” have hopped on board and are using it, but it’s going to be hard to top the now 800,000,000 users on Facebook. Ed Bennett’s blog reports that some hospitals have already joined. I can say that we’re considering it.
Is your hospital planning to join the Google+ world?
This post was written for and originally appeared on www.hospitalimpact.org.