What Are Eyecare Professionals Saying About Google+?

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By Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD, FAAO

TAMPA, Fla.—Google+ is now a month old and has over 25 million users. A major source of discussion on the internet since its debut in late June, Google + or Google Plus is the new social-networking platform from Google. As we explored in the July 6th edition of CLICK and in an additional 3-part series about Google + and Facebook on Vision Monday.com, the arrival of this new platform is expanding the reach of social media.

While I have found traditional marketing strategies to be increasingly useless in promoting my practice, Bright Eyes Family Vision Care, it has steadily grown through online marketing. We use email, blogging, Twitter, Facebook, and Google daily to reach both current and potential patients. After receiving an early invitation to check out Google Plus. I've spent much time learning how it works and discovering how I can use it to promote Bright Eyes.

The Google Plus release is noteworthy for several reasons. The past social applications from the search giant, Wave and Buzz, were considered major missteps. The recent roll-out of the "Plus One" button was seen as Google's copy of Facebook's "Like Button" that would have little impact on the social web. This time, however, Google Plus is receiving major attention as a potential force to alter the internet ecosystem for both individuals and businesses.

The novelty is wearing off and users have had time to sort out for themselves what they think about the new social network. Is it a dud? Is it a Facebook and/or Twitter killer? I have talked to a variety of eye care providers who have spent time on Google+. As one would expect, results are mixed.

Many ECPs have a positive initial response to Google+. Dave Macarty, OD., "I hardly use Facebook anymore, because everyone is on it. I love the Google+"circles" concept of selectively sharing with people."

Optometrist and social media writer, Alan Glazier, OD, FAAO, likes the interaction with existing online tools, "It integrates with my Google toolbar, so I can go right from my Gmail to my Google +; from old school email to new school social media communication and back and forth with ease."

Many people see similarities between Facebook and Google+, but not everyone thinks this is a good thing. Walt Mayo, OD, owner of DoctorSights.com, likes it, but thought the interface could have been different. "I think Google+ is better for small groups, but I wish they hadn't copied so much of the Facebook 'look'."

Some, like Dickson Chin, OD, are pessimistic about Google+'s chances of success. "With so many amazing connections and reconnections on Facebook, I just don't see Google+ ever giving the type of random connections that can turn into valuable friendships."

We will not know how Google+ fares until business pages are available and it is open for the general public. Some, like Cheryl G. Murphy, OD, like the service but are skeptical about it knocking Facebook out of the top position. "I think Google+ and Google are great because they are connecting things like has never before such as a social network, email, document-sharing," she says. "However, I think the general public is dreading the switch from Facebook and having to start from scratch on Google+. Time will tell if everyone takes the leap of faith over to it."

But it may turn out that it what keeps from being mainstream is not just the concern of starting over, but the same powerful feature that techies like. As Ruth Villeneuve, owner of Social Visionaries says, "I think the promise of Google+ is exciting. However, I fear that the very thing which makes it great, the Circles, maybe intimidating some users and keeping them away.

Want to learn more? Watch this short video series about Google+: A Quick Look on You Tube. And Mashable offers regular information and updates about the Google+ platform.

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD, FAAO, Bright Eyes Family Vision Care, Tampa, Fla., is an optometrist specializing in the vision of infants and children. He helped create "Peripheral Vision" which educates eyecare professionals about social media. Dr. Warford was a speaker at the first CLICK Conference last year and will be on the program again at the 2nd CLICK Conference this year on Thurs. Sept 22 in Las Vegas. He chairs the social media committee of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development and the Florida Optometric Association's Children's Vision Committee. He founded Foursquare Day in March 2010.