Google+ is a social media network many people and businesses have avoided investing much time in. While Google proudly reports 300 million active users, the reality is that Google’s perception of an “active” user is rather generous. Still, there are four main benefits for brands, particularly health care organizations, that invest in setting up and monitoring a Google+ page.
Google+ Local vs. Google+ Business
Shortly after Google created its social network, Google Places (the pages that showed reviews, maps, and addresses) was replaced with Google+ Local. Just like with Google Places, business managers can ”claim” locations to manage the facility information and respond to reviews. If you enter an address or name in the search bar, yet your business does not show, you are able to create a page.
The number of physical locations for a brand will dictate how many Google+ Local pages exist. However, just one Google+ Business page should exist for each brand.
The main benefit of a Google+ Business page is the ability to engage with customers through posting content, videos, and links back to your site. We have a headache-free post about setting up a Google+ page, so be sure to check that out before diving in.
Though you may be overwhelmed and confused, please remember that you can merge the Google+ Business page with Google+ Local listings (as long as they feature physical locations). Our State of Search pal, Greg Gifford, wrote a phenomenal run-down of how you can merge these pages.
Benefit 1: Local Reach
Arguably the most profound benefit of investing time in your organization’s Google+ page is the increased presence in Local results. Most patients are searching for organizations within a reasonable proximity a we call that Local Search a and these solutions are often pursued from a mobile device. Local search is incredibly important because it enables brands that wouldn’t normally rank on the first page to receive optimal positioning due to its location a and thus, its likelihood of providing visitors with a satisfying solution to their query.
Benefit 2: Innovative Ways to Engage
Google+ allows people and brands to interact with followers in ways Facebook and Twitter can’t. For example, a Hangout is essentially a video chat session, but unlike Skype, it can be accessed within Google+. No downloads are necessary. Helpouts, an extension of Hangouts, is a pretty cool feature that recently launched. It allows individuals or brands to help people in real-time. While most Helpouts are available at a cost, some brands are making representatives available to help an audience for free. Banfield, for example, offers real-time pet wellness information, covering a wide variety of topics. Not only does this educate an audience, it also strengthens the brand perception and public relations. It will be exciting to see how Helpouts continues to unfold and affect the way we seek solutions.
Auto Awesome is a new way Google can spruce up the photos and video you share. If you haven’t checked out the specific features, I urge you to do so.
To show an example: Google is showing off its holiday spirit by adding special effects to photos uploaded to Google+. In this case, it overlaid falling snow to the foreground of the picture I added. (This is more of a novelty feature than one that can provide much value for healthcare brands, but I wanted to show Auto Awesome in action.) It’s important to note that the Auto Awesome features aren’t automatically generated.
Once I uploaded the photo, nothing happened. About 15 minutes later, I received a notification with the new and improved photo! Auto Awesome is automatically enabled, but can easily be disabled through settings.
As more people turn to search engines when seeking health care, organization and physician reviews have increased in value and in quantity. Google takes many factors into consideration when serving results, so while a portfolio of pristine reviews doesn’t guarantee you a top-ranking position, it certainly helps the cause. Among the many ways your organization can manage its reputation through Google+, we recommend asking patients to contribute their feedback.
Not only does it give patients a chance to voice their experiences and overall level of satisfaction with the brand, it enables the organization to understand its strengths and weaknesses. And the social proof of quality care will most likely drive a higher volume of traffic to the website.
Benefit 4: Community Interaction
What separated Google from other social networks from the start was the ability to group people into categories, or circles, and thus filter what you share with specific groups. Similar to that mindset are Google+ Communities, groups of users that share a similar interest or profession. Healthcare brands and professionals are carving out new areas of interest, while simultaneously spreading innovation and connecting with other brands and patients. The “Healthcare Glass Explorers” community, for example, discusses and shares the many ways Google Glass is changing the world of healthcare.
As more interesting Google+ features and benefits roll out, it has become apparent how influential this social network website can be for brands. While we understand that exploring Communities or joining Hangouts can be time consuming, we suggest starting with the tactics that will most impact your brand’s reach in search a such as asking for reviews, claiming your local listing, and creating a Google+ Business page with a custom URL.
For more information regarding Google+ for Your Healthcare organization or to find out how your healthcare brand can benefit from a digital growth agency, contact us today.