The Benefits of Using Google+ as a Health Activist

It came to me as no surprise that many Health Activists are already on Google+ and braving the first portion of confusing adaptation to dig in an learn how they can latch on and really take advantage of possible opportunities therein. Health Activists are experts at communicating and often among the earliest of early adopters. We love social and we love sharing resources – enter Google+.

Here’s why I think Health Activists could really benefit from using G+ and a few changes or adjustments I’d like to see made to better enable their user experiences here.

Benefits of G+ for Health Activists:

  • Usability! Once you get over the arguably steep learning curve, G+ is easy to use. You can drag and drop, +1 (Google’s version of the Like), upload photos, videos, and comment on others’ posts in a snap. Everything is the same size and there aren’t awkward threaded boxes for you to figure out.
  • You can Edit. This is a huge one for me. There is no – “oh no I posted too fast – delete! Re-post” dance that many of us experience on Facebook. It’s maddening to catch a spelling error and be unable to fix it right away. Health Activists like to get things right and accurate – this is possible and easy.
  • Notifications are in your Gmail. Gmail is right there – many Health Activists email their community members and rely on long-form communication. Your Gmail and G+ communities are linked. That means only one tab needs to be open and you’re just a click away from re-engaging in a post conversation on G+.
  • Hangouts. I haven’t tried them yet, myself. But there is a huge potential here. For those Health Activists that are home due to chronic pain, fatigue, treatment regimens, or because they are caregivers or busy parents – this is a way to get face-to-face with up to 10 people in your community. Instead of the sometimes-awkward one-on-one Video Chat (you can still do that, though) – you can meet with a whole team of folks. Think of the possibilities: it’s the closest facsimile we’ve ever had to an in-person support group. Huge.
  • Circles – one for each “you.” In the past, many have written about the new way that Facebook Sign In has made it virtually impossible for you to keep your Health-you and you-you separate. As I’ve heard from many Health Activists, sometimes sharing personal health details is something you only want to do with your community members. Some Health Activists get more personal with their blog-readers than they do their own friends and family. With Facebook – it’s a complicated process to try to separate all the versions of conversations you want to have. G+ makes that a cinch. For those of us who have numerous Facebooks, Twitters, and blogs (myself included) this is an incredible step in the right direction. You can now decide who you’re sharing that clinical trial link, treatment news, or how you’re feeling with. And, conversely – you can keep the more personal pieces you may not want to share with your health community – relegated to your friends. This is possible on Facebook and Twitter but to create Groups or Lists there is a complicated search and add feature that involves lots of click and redirecting – G+ seems to be designed for finding people and dropping them into a Circle instantly. [Jump to keep reading!]
  • Networking. Over at WEGO Health we work to bring Health Activists together – so people can meet across conditions and share resources, ideas, and tips for being even better bloggers, tweeters, and online leaders. We’ve seen that Health Activists love to meet each other and connect. It’s essential to being your best. You can do this on G+ in a similar way but move even beyond the health world. You can Circle industry leaders, favorite online writers, people you’d want to know, and – best thing about being early to the game – they may just Circle-add you back.
  • Stay caught up. It’s easy to watch your Facebook or Twitter feed sail by – missing some of the best content pieces until you somehow happen upon them later. Sure you could Favorite or Bookmark like crazy – but it’s easy to do this on G+. As suggested in this G+ Guide, make an empty Circle called “Read Later” and toss in whatever piques your interest but don’t yet have time for. You can also sort your Stream to show exactly who you want to catch up with – unlike with Facebook who mashes everything together and sometimes hides the posts you may want to read.
  • Collaborate. As Dianne Rees shared, “I think people feel freer here to brainstorm and form groups that actually create things, which has great potential for health activists (and educators).” Use a Google Doc to collaborate, all join a Circle, use Hangout, Huddle (on Mobile) or comment using photos like a SlideShare. The possibilities seem pretty endless when it comes to team-creating. Imagine how easy it could be to create an online awareness event!
  • Chat! Want to reach out and support a community member in an easier way than bringing up Skype or AIM or DMing hopelessly back and forth? Move them into a Circle and Enable that Circle to Chat. Now you can gChat with them. Collaborate quickly on an upcoming Guest Post or plan your next TweetChat. Excellent for those of us (no names, ahem, self) with mild to severe telephonophobia.
  • Sparks. Instead of delving deep into your Reader, set up Sparks that correspond with your community and stay up on the latest news, posts, etc on the health topics that you cover and bring back to your members and readers.
  • Awesome moderation abilities. This month’s theme is focusing on Empowering Your Community and Yourself – that means curbing negativity when it starts to drag down conversation. As we know all to well – echo chambers of complaints can draw more complaints like moths to flame. While being honest and addressing the pain, sadness, and frankly upsetting parts of living with a chronic condition – you don’t want your posts to quickly nosedive into a place of reinforced pessimism. You can Disable Comments – sorry, everyone – you were hi-jacking my post. (It’s important, as a Health Activist, to moderate conversation in your community.) Or, if the conversation you were adding to spirals out of control – you can Mute it. No more Nofications from that conversation – and you can keep your head up and disconnect if you find yourself getting to emotional or heated.
  • Make your post un-shareable. When you publish a Post you can disable “reshare” and keep it just between those to whom you shared it. This is great for keeping it “in the family” or health community as it were.
  • Mobile! Of course, most of our networks are mobily accessible and, in fact, many of us prefer to socially connect on the go. G+ is no exception and allows for easy integration into your day, keeping you up to date on your community even when you have appointments, travel, or errands to run.
  • The +1. By installing a +1 button on your blog or health community, you’ll be reaching out to a new audience. When someone +1s your post, it jumps to G+ and perhaps broadcasts into Circles you hadn’t even though to add yourself. Yet! Also by +1ing (that’s a complex verb!), you raise your hand and say “hello” to other G+ Posters and may open contact with new people.


Ideas for G+ Version 2.0:

  • Blog integration! Create a tab on each person’s profile of their blog that has it feed there. Or allow for different types of Posts and allow people to sort by them.
  • Hashtagging. While Google may not love the inane Twitter hashtag-dom (though sometimes it’s hilarious and fun) there should be a way to tag Posts by topic. This would be hugely beneficial to anyone in a health community who wanted to have their Posts viewable by anyone who clicked “Diabetes” or “Chronic Pain” for example.
  • Clean URL for sharing G+ posts on Twitter or elsewhere. Right now it’s lengthly and ambiguous. I’m sure that a fix will be on the horizon.
  • Twitter integration. I know people are of two minds on this one – many folks don’t want their G+ bombarded with Twitter streams. I agree. But I do think there should be a way to quickly share what you’re already sharing on your other networks in G+ and perhaps customize it (like many Health Activists do anyway when differentiating between sharing on Facebook or Twitter, etc.)
  • CMS for Posts. I realize that would make the clean interface a bit more cluttered – but it would help to be able to post bullets or numbered lists as well as more easily bold (right now you use *s) and italicize (you use _s). I don’t think it would be necessary to add colors or different sizes of fonts – but added a “Quote” feature would be good. As would be the ability to hyperlink text so you didn’t have to drop in links when siting your sources in longer paragraphs.


But that’s just a few of the things I thought of. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Whether you’re a Health Activist or simply an online user with an interest in health (that accounts for upwards of 80% of Internet users!) – do you think G+ has unique features that will benefit the health community? What are they? What would you like to see added? Or, if you’re still wondering what all the fuss is about – why do you prefer your current social networks over G+?

Check out the G+ posts that inspired this one here and here.

9 thoughts on “The Benefits of Using Google+ as a Health Activist

  1. Great post! I’m still trying to figure out how, exactly, I want to use G+. But the first thing I did was create a circle of the health bloggers I know who are on there, and I was so happy to see you there, Amanda! 🙂

    1. Aw – I was equally happy to see you there! I’m learning so much from the folks on there – it’s going to be amazing to see how we can translate the business/tech aspects to suit our health-centric/blogging world! I’m hoping we can take advantage of the group-project atmosphere and really plan things that will help those beyond the realm of G+ (and bridge the digital divide in any way we can) – only time will tell! 🙂

  2. Excellent post Amanda. I think you really captured the essence of G+.  There’s a whole new world of new connections out there.  I’m surprised that I hadn’t uncovered some of these new connections before now.  This is an amazing platform and I’m looking forward to see how this evolves.  Thanks for the incredible overview!

    1. I completely agree! I’m learning so much already. I’d really be interested to hear your take on the body of current G+ users vs. who isn’t there and how we can really work together, there, to help others beyond. Early adoption is wonderful but I hope that we can really pave the way for collaborative projects and eventual big high-impact change! #dreamer 🙂

      1. It’s amazing – there’s a whole different universe of health activists on there that I had no encountered using Twitter or FB.  To me, the expansion of my network has been amazing.  There’s some great things ahead – I can tell!

  3. Cathy Chester says:

    Will there be a video of this posting?  I learn more easily (I have found over the years after learning about my son’s Learning Disability) when I hear content.  If not, I will take my time learning it the way I did in school!  Thanks for all of this – I am excited to learn Google+!!!!

  4. Cathy Chester says:

    Will there be a video of this posting?  I learn more easily (I have found over the years after learning about my son’s Learning Disability) when I hear content.  If not, I will take my time learning it the way I did in school!  Thanks for all of this – I am excited to learn Google+!!!!

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