Three Google Plus Take-Aways from Healthcare Hangout

On Monday, I had a great opportunity to try out a Google Plus “Hangout” with Reed Smith and Ed Bennett. Our goal was to try it for the first time and maybe talk a bit about Google Plus in healthcare. Great conversation and great time to sit back and learn a but from smart healthcare, digital leaders. The video is above from our Hangout. Also, Reed’s friend Bryan Person joined us…great to meet a new person on Plus.

Here is the biggest take away, three things that have me thinking about Google Plus and healthcare:

1) Google Plus is so new, we have no idea how it is going to shape or integrate into our social structure. People are still learning how to use Google’s technology and the user base is still in it’s infancy. Reed Smith brought up a good point, we do not know if this iteration is the 1.0 or even 0.5 version. So many changes are coming, more users will be joining…so Ed Bennett thinks it will be a few months to really see the major impacts in the social space.

2) Integrating Google Plus into a large healthcare/hospital system. Ed Bennett shared some knowledge…he is creating “Circles” based on service lines and departments with the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) Google Plus account. As people are adding the hospital to their circles, Ed is sending them a personal note asking what type of information that would like to receive on Google Plus from the UMMC. Based on their response, Ed is putting that person into a specific Circle based on the relevant service line or department. This allows the person to receive the information they are seeking. Also, if the person asks about an area of the hospital that does not have a Circle, then you can decide to create a Circle based on that feedback.

3) We are still not sure what to expect from a business class account with Google Plus. We do know that the business accounts are right around the corner, so we are sitting back waiting to see how/if to convert our hospital business accounts when Google Plus releases this business option. We know it is right around the corner, especially given this Mashable Story about verified and business account. For this article, CLICK HERE.

Also…one side note, Apple released their Google Plus application in iTunes for the iPhone today. For many people, it is not showing up when they are doing a search in iTunes on their iPhones. If you read this post on your iPhone, CLICK HERE and it will take you to the Google Plus application in iTunes.

If you want to connect with me on Google Plus, CLICK HERE for my profile.

Where is Plus and these social technologies taking us?

Google+ is starting to shape up as more of a B2B place for me…not a place to engage “consumers.” Now I am sure others are finding situations that are different. Let me clarify a bit, a place to engage in professional communication between colleagues and other businesses. Very few of my family members are on Plus…I am sure that will evolve.

I know many individuals are using Plus right now in the same work flow, if not similar, to other social outlets. It is a distribution point of content.

I am also thinking through how we will use this outlet in healthcare? Since this is a fluid environment, a place to engage in broader conversation…it will be interesting to see the healthcare applications. There are already so many channels to reach patients…will this be another place? Or will this be a place for medical practitioners and leadership to engage in professional communication.

Using Circles to engage in private conversations, it is a platform for creation and sharing of knowledge. I am already having physicians asking me how they should use Plus. I know one is specifically using it to stay in touch with family across the country, utilizing Hangouts for group video chats…a means to keep families connected.

It is so fun to sit back and watch the evolutions of technology grow, change, and shape culture. Twitter, Facebook, and so many others have shaped the current culture we live today. But, is our attention span so short that we will forget yesterday’s social outlet as we learn the next. What will happen to Plus after the honeymoon period is over and the pendulum swings back closer to center? What is the center?

The more and more I write, the more and more I wish all of my clients were on plus. This would be a great place to engage and share ideas. A great place to chat online or jump into a Hangout if we need human interaction beyond the typeface.

I have a theory though…Plus is going to alter our current cultural experience online. It will break us away from short chats and into longer form discussions online. It will make us question whether we should have a blog on WordPress or Tumblr, yet write fluidly in this space for a broad or finite group of people in a “Circle”. I see academics leveraging the interactivity of Plus to engage in scholarship in a whole new manner. Even teach completely through plus, using Circles as class roles.

I am 37, and I sit here getting ready to have my first child…Rose Frances. The velocity of technology and social media(s) have made me wonder what she will experience? What will Rose be using is elementary school and so on…to communicate and share information. Will outlets like Twitter, Facebook, Plus, Gowalla, Ping, Pinterest, etc. still be around?

Ok…back to the original question: how are we really going to use Plus? Are we going to use it like all the other outlets or will we change the way we communicate based on the new opportunities Plus has offered us…to participate in mutual, technological discourse? Plus is just a technology…that is it.

Google Plus & Social Outlets…WE have to stay grounded as Practitioners

We still have to stay grounded my friends…we have to stay grounded. As I was thinking through the hype of another social outlet to be added to the users’ menu, a song came to mind. Do you remember the song “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen? This tune keeps on popping up in my mind, thinking through the lyrics. Now, I am not singing the same lyrics to the tune…I have changed to “Another One Called Plus”. Yes…I think Queen would probably baulk at singing these lyrics. There is an irony in the changing the lyris, I think.

Yes…there is another one at the playing table, and within a week Google Plus has the buzz of a major player in the user arena(s). The more and more I read in the social sphere…people are comparing Google Plus to other outlets. We are seeing more user reviews making comparisons to other social outlets, because that is all they know. But…it is just another platform to connect.

We as communication professionals have to be careful not to fall back into a paradigm as technicians. Not only jump on the bandwagon and focus on the technology and the excitement of the technology, but instead trying to learn how users might interact with this new platform. Now granted it is being reported the Google Plus has experienced close to 5 to 9 million users in the first two weeks of this beta release. This is all about how your interpret the numbers, like in this article from eWeek.com.

“Google+ has more than 5 million users in the United States alone during its first two weeks of existence, according to a couple of creative calculations by early users of the fledgling social network.

Open June 28 to limited field-testing, Google+ is Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) major bid to bite into the massive growth and influence of Facebook, which has more than 750 million users and poses a threat to Google’s display ad business.”

BUT…there are still communities still interacting in all the other platforms and digital media outlets. As this new platform emerges, we have to stay vigilant in our roles as communication practitioners. Each platform is going to apply to different communities of users and how they communicate. We have to sit back, educate ourselves with these new platforms, let the honeymoon dust settle, then see how/if we can apply this to what we are doing.

I do not think there is going to be a mass exodus from Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and other social/digital mediums. I think people will will use the medium that best serves their abilities to communicate with the people they want connect with regularly. But, we must educate ourselves with these new technologies and see how/if we can apply our communication knowledge to this platform as practitioners. Whether we use online video to communicate our message, write a blog, create a Facebook campaign, do a media buy, or even implement a digital media strategy…we need to assess this platform and see how it might play into how we communicate our message.

Remember…it is about people, stupid!

Google+: Circles is getting us back to basics, communities! Removing the noise hopefully.

I think one of the big things many of us in the this social space have been feeling for a while is the explosion of noise in the social space. More and more outlets, channels, places to shout our information.

Twitter was so fun two years ago, not many people were using this outlet…so it was a smaller community base of people interacting. Now it has exploded.

More and more people are wanting to lock down and limit their friends in this “social space”, protecting against the mass markets. Yes we can “Like” pages, but there are restrictions. The one thing that Facebook has going for it, the ability to have community conversations.

I would take part in Twitter chats and notice many of those same people would jump over to Facebook to have more private, engaged conversations…away from the mass 140 character updates. The hardest thing about Facebook is the restrictions on some of the interactive flexibility to share different types of media.  The other concept that helped Facebook, is the idea of being a “Friend”, which is a two way decision.

Twitter has a great concept, but the idea of “Followers” is a bit egotistical fundamentally. People would, and still do, focus on how many “Followers” they do or do not have. That name created a culture of competition, a race that fulfilled most American egos…I want more. This notion turned Twitter into a mass communication piece…just people buying into a culture of amplification.

This idea of “Circles” is intriguing. It takes the real time update concept of Twitter, combining with the ability to attach media with updates from Facebook, and combines the discussion idea of Wave…into Circles. I am actually wondering why they did not call Google Plus….Google Circles.

You have the ability to create a private room, a private place for a group of friends to interact and share. I have read so many people saying that they are going to go back to less numbers of people and move to a more intimate group of friends they know using Circles.

We want to be close to our friends. We want to share and be heard. Mass digital media has created so much noise that we are searching for a place to have conversations with friends we know in person and people we have met online. We want to have a closer relationship and feel open to speak freely, away from the public scrutiny of bad Tweets. The many politicians and public figures have shown us that Twitter’s amplification can hurt our credibility, especially when we share the wrong picture, say the wrong thing, or mis-represent the wrong brand.

We just want a place to be ourselves and share with our friends. It looks like Plus might provide that refuge…Circles is a place to be ourselves again and feel open and honest to share. So we do not have to change our handles to names that no-one knows and put avatars up to hide behind.

I am not sure how Plus will evolve, especially when they open it up to business accounts later this year. What are you doing when you go into Plus for the first time? Are you honestly re-thinking who you will let in, or are you just transferring the same online friendships and tendencies you had in other social outlets. Or, are you looking for a richer experience online with a tight nit group of friends. I know I am, I have a circle just for my Frat Brothers and one for my close friends.

I guess we will see what happens!

Google Plus: Circles…Circles…Circles…step back Facebook?


Oh yes…I have been completely impressed by the Circles concept in Google Plus. But my only reference point here is my Facebook account settings and Twitter Lists…but this is completely different.

So may times I have wanted to only interact with a group of people in a discussion, but has the interactivity of Facebook. I have found a link, an idea, a video, a picture, or an opinion…and only share quickly with a specific group of friends. This can be done by just creating a Circle of connections (people) then updating your status for these to see.

This to me is where I am beginning to see some value, and where I see where Google Wave has some influence. I can quickly create a “Circle” where I add friends/people/connections, then I can interact with them and only them. No more worrying about trying to separate a status update from those who you feel do not need to see this information. So many times on Facebook, I wanted to share a video with just a group of friends…but was worried about either upsetting someone on my public timeline or marginalizing someone based on the content of this update.

If you look below…you can see how an update will go only to a group of people are just in my “Friends” Circle.

Now…only my friends are interacting with this content. Just the friends I have dragged to this circle below:

So what does this mean…I can do more collaborative discussion online. I can create a “Circle” for a discussion and interact with them on the fly, separating that discussion from others I have connected with on Google Plus. This opens up a new paradigm for a person like me. I can create a “Circle” for a class I am teaching, creating discussions between the class members. I can create a “Circle” for a client, using this as an opportunity to have discussions, share media, share links, etc…all on the fly.

The other thing I like, is that you can extend this conversation beyond a circle. You can click to add more people and select to add a “Circle” of people to include in this update. You can also select “Extended Circles” as an option where this update is extended to that “Circle’s” group of friends. So you have grown you network of influence of an update by selecting the option for an additional degree of people to take part in that discussion.

You can add other “Circles” or even make the update public. Very cool…you can decide on the fly who you will interact with in one drop down menu. This is under the assumption you have set-up all your Circles of contacts. Pretty Cool Stuff!

Here is a video from Google about Circles: