Hospitals: Just Say No to Google+

Google launched Google+ a few weeks ago as a serious competitor to Facebook. Ten million people signed on in the first two weeks! The social media world was in a flurry to receive invitations and chime in about the newest contender for social media stardom.

Social media guru Chris Brogan spent 250 hours immersed in Google+ and published a relatively brief (770 words), mostly positive summary on Forbes.

One of my favorite social media thinkers and prolific writers, Brian Solis, wrote 3,272 words analyzing Google+ on his blog.

I’m grateful for their work, and I loved getting their take on it, but honestly I didn’t have to read anything about Google+ in order to give hospitals and their marketing directors/business developers my best advice about this shiny new object.

That’s because I learned everything I need to know about Google+ from Howard J. Luks, MD, in his blogpost last March. Our job, said Dr. Luks, is to get people interested and engaged, and the best way to do that is to stick with the key (popular) platforms.

“Let’s follow the KISS principle here,” he said. “Let’s keep it really simple.… If we’re talking about too many platforms and too many avenues and too many startups… We’re just going to confuse (everyone).”

We don’t need to be early adopters

People like Chris Brogan and Brian Solis, and maybe even a few in our own healthcare world, are futurists and early adopters. Their careers are built on identifying the next big thing and preparing for the day when it may actually be the big thing.

But you and I, we live and work in the present. And we have only so much time and energy every day. We don’t need to be early adopters. And today, Google+ has 10 million users. Facebook has 800 million. Hmmmm. 10 million? 800 million? I wonder where I should be putting my efforts?

When the time comes that Google+ has 300 million or 500 million users, and when Facebook is imploding like MySpace, that’s when we can migrate over and bring our fans and friends – our loyal community – with us.

For now, focus on today. Build a strong community. Keep it simple. Listen to understand. Have a conversation. Inform. Educate. Be generous. Be real. Trust your community. And ignore that shiny new object.


While you’re just saying no to Google+ visit our What We Think page and download our popular e-book “How to Engage Patients in a Facebook Community.”

6 replies
  1. Craig G.
    Craig G. says:

    Thanks for the post Dan! I do agree with you that hospitals should fish where the fish are, but I also believe that there needs to be a strong presence on new platforms as well. As a fan of Dr. Luks, I am sure you read his blog titled “Healthcare and Social Media…the ROI is Real, but the Message Matters” in which he said that “we all have moral obligation to fill Google’s servers with quality content to drown out the commercialized nonsense that exists online today.” I am a firm believer in Dr. Luks’ statement and I also believe that if we wait for the time to come when “Google+ has 300 million or 500 million users” it will be too late. With the latest statistics showing that patients are actively searching the web for medical advice, if the healthcare community does not address these new platforms immediately, we run the risk of having inaccurate information being disseminated to the uniformed public. If we do this and Google+ turns out to be a failure, at least credible content has been distributed to those who were early adopters.

    • Dan Hinmon, Principal
      Dan Hinmon, Principal says:

      An excellent point, Craig, and honestly one that I had not given much thought to. Yes, I do like Dr. Luks’ mission of creating quality content for the internet. Whether it’s essential to do this through Google+ or not, though, it’s still a question. My main concern is for hospital marketing directors who are already swamped and sometimes overwhelmed with social media. They can wait awhile and still have plenty of opportunity to be engaged — if this thing is a success.

  2. Dan Hinmon
    Dan Hinmon says:

    Thanks for your comments, Dave. I could have mentioned you, along with Chris and Brian, as an early adopter since you’ve been at all this for years. It is going to be fascinating to see how this shakes out. If nothing else, the competition will end up creating some better choices for all of us.

  3. Dave Ekrem
    Dave Ekrem says:

    Hi Dan, I think this is going to be less a question of whether than when, since Google seems to have learned from past mistakes and is getting traction pretty quickly. Also, with their market share in search, Plus may turn out to be a different (and more valuable) social platform than Facebook. If we wind up in a game where we need to create content that has value and encourage people to share it in their social networks, Google will have the whole package. -Dave

  4. Dan Hinmon
    Dan Hinmon says:

    Thanks for the excellent (as always) thoughts, Chris. We definitely should be paying attention to Google+. The key will be how many of the patients and families hospitals are engaging will leave Facebook to take advantage of this new platform. I doubt they will do both. Until that’s clear, I’m advising hospitals to fish where the fish are.

  5. Chris Brogan...
    Chris Brogan... says:

    True that I’m an early adopter, but be advised that 13 million people are already using Google+ in the first few weeks. So, it’s going to grow quickly and might not be the “futurist” hang out for very long. If you look at occupations listed at , a third party site that scrapes profiles, you’ll see quite an interesting bunch of info bits.

    Just some thoughts.

    I don’t disagree that tomorrow is the right day to start, but to “watch and see” might not be a very long period, either.

    Thanks for the post.


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