More Ways for your Practice to Get Social – Google’s “+1” Social Search
Google is officially joining the social scene, now in the experimental stages of a new search function allowing users to share their recommendations with friends through their newest feature, “+1”. Similar to Facebook’s “Like” button, +1 is a way for you to show your friends your stamp of approval for a specific search result. If you are on the searching side, you can look for results that your friends have “+1’d” to get recommendations on everything from a delicious chicken recipe to a 5-star hotel (and even an eye doctor!).
What does this mean for you?
'Getting social' means that more and more of what you do online is getting noticed by everyone around you. Therefore, if you surround your “self” by patients and potential patients, then they'll notice what you are doing ... and as long as you're up to something useful and interesting, it's good to be noticed!
How does it work?
For starters, if you aren’t already using Gmail as your main office email account, it’s time to switch. You will need to set up a public Google profile and if necessary, forward your current practice email to a Gmail account. This will automatically add every patient and potential patient you interact with through the account to your social network. Encourage your staff to do the same and your network will keep expanding.
When signed into your Google account, a regular search engine search can become social, connecting you to everyone in your Gmail (or Google Talk) chat list, your “My Contacts” group in Google contacts, people you are following in Google Reader and Google Buzz and people you are connected to through social sites such as Twitter and FriendFeed that are linked to your Google account. You may also be connected to more removed users who are connected publicly to your immediate social network such as people your Twitter friends are following. With more connections, your practice will gain a wider reach and greater potential for free exposure.
How do you get started?
Since Google +1 is still in the experimental stages, you probably aren’t yet seeing a whole slew of +1’s when you do a Google search. You can however, join the experiment once you have your Google account set up. Once you join, go to Google.com, search for 'eyecarepro' and hit +1. What better way is there to start your Google social experience ;-) ?
In the screenshot below, you will see where the +1 button will appear on the right side of the search result. Selecting this button tells your friends that you think that EyeCarePro.net is “really cool”. Notice that under the URL, you will find the picture and name of other friends that have recommended the site. When there are many +1’s for a particular site, you will also see the total number of people that have given their stamp of approval.
While Google slowly rolls out +1 across North America and then worldwide, you have the chance to get a head start on getting social. Once your Google presence is established and you sign up to join the fun, start interacting through your account. The more you do, the more your practice name will begin to appear on the screens (and therefore in the thoughts) of your friends and contacts.
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