Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin are changing the way we communicate with each other. In September of 2011 Google announced their own social media site to compete with the other players for advertising dollars.
But why should health professionals even care about social media? I saw some recent statistics about the impact social media is having on our lives and I wanted to share a few of these with you:
- 1 in 5 couples meet online; 3 in 5 gay couples meet online
- 1 in 5 divorces are blamed on Facebook
- #1 benefit of social media marketing is gaining attention for the business, and 81% of business owners say their social media efforts generated exposure for their businesses.
- 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations
- Generation Y and Z consider e-mail passé – some universities have stopped distributing e-mail accounts
- 80% of companies use social media for recruitment; the percentage of these using LinkedIn is 95% Source: http://www.socialnomics.net/
Social Media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the Web
As these statistics indicate, social media is having, and will continue to have, a lasting effect on our lives, those of our families, and our clients so we need to be part of the conversation and familiar with the technology.
The newest player in social media, Google Plus, known by the shorthand “G Plus,” is an identity and social media channel that takes some of the best features found on Twitter and Facebook and combines them into one service. Any social worker who is looking to gain some visibility and connection with others can benefit from Google +.
Here are some features that make it useful:
Engagement: The main feature of Google Plus is engagement. When used correctly, it can be a tool to distribute your content from blogs, emails, documents, and be a big driver of traffic to websites. Most people already use Google’s search engine which serves that role now, and it is believed that Google+ will facilitate sharing of information.
Adds Social Dimension: Google Plus was created to add a social layer to their existing products (Google search, Gmail, documents, images, YouTube, etc.) instead of just a stand-alone social media site like Facebook.
Circles help categorize connections: Another important Google Plus feature is enabling users to categorize their connections into “circles” -such as business contacts, friends and family. Using this feature, you are able to share different information with each circle- just like you would in real life. And unlike Facebook, you needn’t accept all “friends” into one network, which sometimes results in sharing information that, at times, is irrelevant to many of them. Google plus allow you to create niche circles for specific categories such as a “Referral Sources” circle, or a “Colleagues” circle, or “Classmates” circle. This allows you to tailor the content of your messages to your audience.
Sparks to share information: Google is known as a search engine information resource, and the “sparks” feature now offered through Google Plus makes it easy for people to find interesting information to share with their circles. Sparks also allow you to easily filter information, by providing you with relevant content about your interests using the power of the Google search engine.
Hanging out online: The “hangouts” feature of Google Plus, by far, the coolest feature, allows you to have a video chat with up to 10 people at the same time for free. This is much better, in my opinion, than Facebook’s video chat feature, which requires you to initiate a call. Google Plus allows you to let your contacts, or even your entire circles, know that you are “hanging out” online and you can invite them to join you for a group chat.
Social Gaming: Google + has over 37 games and Google+ games are located under a games tab which gives games less visibility and has separate notification from the others a user may have.
Add Business Page: Google Plus allows you to have a business page on Google where health care workers can list their practice, and your business page can easily integrate with all your other Google + features.
Link Google Plus to Your Website: So how do you bring visibility to your Google + page? Google has many different badges/buttons (icons) you can put on your website or blog to let people know you are on Google +. Visitors can then click on the link to be directed to your business page on Google+.
Be sure to create and discuss your social media policy with your clients before initiating a social media campaign.
In addition, don’t forget to draft a marketing plan that includes what target population(s) you’d like to reach, what information would be useful to them, how often you will contribute, and how much time you will devote to social media.
For more details on adding a Google Plus Button and Badge and Complete Business page go to: