The twittersphere was aflutter with the news yesterday that Google+ was now set up for branded pages. Until now, Google+ was set up for individuals to use, but companies not so much. For example, if a company went to set up a page, it would be asked for its gender. Some companies like the social pioneering Ford forged ahead, but most held back. In a way, that was good because it gave time to those working in pharma to explore Google+ as individuals – getting to know the in’s and outs’. Here is a posting on the official Google blog that lists a number of companies and business interests that have already set up Google+ pages.
If one did, one would have discovered that Google+ allows one to classify people by “circles” or by their relationship to you. One can label the circles as one wants – Family – BFFs, College Chums, Co-workers, etc. When you post, you can choose who among your circles gets the post. But here is the interesting part, you can also choose to disable comments on the post and you can restrict the further sharing of the post – before you put it up. Here is a posting by a blogger on the topic in October that features a Google video explaining this feature.
On August 15 and the weeks leading up to it, the Twittershere was also aflutter about the impending change in Facebook policy that would no longer allow a company to disable comments on their Facebook page. Many wondered if the highly regulated medical products industry would pull up stakes and move on. Many of the corporate pages stayed, but many of the condition specific pages did come down.
So what? Companies still have their Web pages. But it’s not the same. Web pages make you come to them. Social media takes messages out to where people are talking – and helps develop relationships – that “social” part of “social media”.
There is an increasing patient demand for digital assets in healthcare. Just a few short years ago, many did not take social media as a credible means for supplying that demand. Today, not only do many pharma companies have multiple twitter feeds, but patient groups and medical societies are fully engaged.
So now the question becomes, does the Google+ branded page allow the medical products industry the security it believes necessary to participate? Does Google+ replace utility that some saw as compromised by the Facebook policy change?
Theoretically, a company could set up a page and have circles that would segment audiences – from scientists to caregivers to patients to medical providers. A circle could even be created for pharma bloggers like Eye on FDA to push news out to those who would spread it. While you can’t view another’s circles, it might be a good idea to observe the pages of companies that have already set up pages.
It’s all new – and perhaps I’m wrong – but I haven’t found anything that states that the branded pages will not be able to disable comments, but invite any commentary on the subject.
I think the real question in this area is a bit different: will Google Plus become an outlet for health information seeking. Hype (and a few dramatic anecdotes aside), I’m not sure that anyone goes on Facebook to figure out what that rash is or whether to double their statin dose when they miss a pill.
Seems like the real opportunity would be a platform that had both authoritative content (think MayoClinic.org) with robust, Facebook/G+-style social content. It remains to be seen if there is a platform that can do both …
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