First Look: How ECPS Are Using The New Google+ Pages

By

By Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD, FAAO

TAMPA, Fla.—Google has been very prolific and has made news almost every week with a new product or update. Although Google Music has gotten a lot of attention this week, the addition of Brand Pages to the Google+ social network is much more relevant to eye care practitioners. Launched two weeks ago, Google+ Pages are extremely simple to set up and maintain, and there are already thousands of Google+ Pages from companies in every industry. Some excellent examples of Google+ Brand Pages are: Pepsi, Toyota, Allstate, Fox News, and even Yahoo!

There are two primary reasons for an ECP to have a Google+ Brand Page: interactivity and findability. On the surface, the new Pages give businesses and brands a presence on Google+. Previously, only people were allowed on the network and they were required to use their real name. Now the doors have been thrown open and you can have one or more identities on Google+. This provides a new way for your business to connect with patients. Google+ has over 40 million users and they tend to be a little more high-tech than the average social media user. If this is a target demographic for your practice, then now is the time to start building the relationship.

For my practice, Bright Eyes Family Vision Care, the Google+ Page has given us an opportunity to connect with a new group of people. Although we are active on Facebook, Twitter, and foursquare, I have connected with many engaged people on Google+ for the first time. Many of these are small business owners. I will Circle their new Google+ Page and then they in turn will circle mine. It has become an active local community of people with Google+ in common.

The search value of Google+ may actually be a more important factor in the decision to use Google+ Pages. In the increasingly competitive search engine landscape, small businesses must work harder to be listed in the top spot in a Google search. Additionally, you don't want to just have one single prominent listing, but if someone Googles your practice, ideally you want to have the entire first page provide links to only sources that you have control of or influence over. Because Google owns Google+, the relative value of Google+ Pages is higher than that of other properties. I have seen the search value for Bright Eyes Family Vision Care's Google+ Page increase quickly on Google.

Others ECPs are also excited about Google+ Pages. Craig Miller, OD said, "I think Google+ and its users are a perfect fit for Gahanna Vision Center and the culture we're creating here. Early adapters of Google+ are alt-thinkers that are looking for something new, fresh, and tired of the current forms of social media which are flooded with posers and spammers. They want something better. At Google+, these users get that chance to re-connect and make true social interactions."

For Keely Rowe of Vision Source Midwest City, Google+ Pages are about both the community and the functionality. "Having our business join the Google+ Pages is more than wanting to be a part of the new and exciting social media platforms - although we do want to be a part of that. Google+ Pages offers us outstanding opportunities to engage our community and to measure what messages are being received and passed on." She plans to do this with targeted Circles and Practice Hangouts.

Brad Bodkin, OD of The Vision Center at Seaside Farms also likes the ability to assign contacts in Google+ Circles. He says he is using Google+ Pages "...similar to how we are using other social media outlets, but there will be more targeted posts to only certain people using the circles feature."

Even in these early stages Google+ Pages can be beneficial, but they are still very much a work in progress. Currently Pages cannot have multiple administrators, which may be a problem for large practices. Other tools, such, as analytics will be added in early 2012.

Want to see what other ECPs are doing with their new Google+ Pages? Check out these great examples:

Need to learn more about Google+ Pages? Read what Vision Monday posted a week ago, "Google+ Pages: What You Need to Know."

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD, FAAO, Bright Eyes Family Vision Care, Tampa, Fla., is an optometrist specializing in the vision of infants and children. A social media evangelist, he helped create "Peripheral Vision" which educates eyecare professionals about social media. Dr. Warford was a featured speaker at this year's CLICK Conference where he addressed the expanding influence of digital media. He is the chair of the social media committee of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development and is chair of the Florida Optometric Association's Children's Vision Committee. He founded Foursquare Day in March 2010.