At least one analyst says new service Google+ has the potential to “significantly change the online health information landscape.”
I’m not quite sure which camp I’m in yet, but I do think it’s important to understand Google+ and how it might impact healthcare marketing. If you’re not familiar with the basic premise, Google+ is designed to improve individual online searches and connect users who are interested in similar topics. Currently, it offers four key tools:
- Circles, for connecting socially with friends;
- Sparks, which offers a search engine-link tool for sharing content based on interest;
- Hangouts, for group video chat; and
- Huddle, for group messaging.
CMI Media has analyzed the benefits of Google’s newest tool, and it has generated initial recommendations for healthcare marketers.
CMI’s recommendations for healthcare marketers focus on an increased investment in targeted search marketing. It also encourages some websites to integrate “+1” buttons on all important pages. (The +1 button is shorthand for “this is pretty cool” or “you should check this out.” Essentially, it’s a public stamp of approval.)
CMI goes on to encourage adding a call to action for patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals to select “+1” for pages they find beneficial. The firm also advises marketers to track their volume of “+1s” by including this metric in search reporting, which it says could provide leverage in developing future search strategies.
Interesting. How comfortable will patients feel about having their search behaviors made public when it comes to health issues? And how might physicians feel about their name being associated with particular branded drugs, or conversely with search terms having nothing to do with their role as healthcare professionals?
It appears Google+ profiles will be made public, and the extent of integration between social features and search is unknown at this point.
As such, senior digital strategist, Michael Spitz, says healthcare marketers should “remember that their audiences are qualitatively different than those of other types of brands, and require a level of caution commensurate to the sensitivity of the subject matter.”
I think that makes sense. Part of me wants to jump right into “hanging out” and “huddling” because building communities with similar interests sure is enticing to this healthcare marketer. However, privacy issues will certainly weigh in. I know I’ll be watching with interest. What’s your take?