The Google+ Project is the most recent innovation introduced to the world by Google and it may just be the biggest thing since…well, Facebook! Since Google launched their new social networking platform on June 28, accessible by invite only, it has already reached an estimated 18 million users.

What exactly is Google+?

Google+ is a social network, with many similarities to Facebook in that you can post status updates, videos, photos, and links.  Where it starts to differentiate itself from current networks, is the use of "Circles." A circle allows you to select and group friends or followers accordingly, giving you the ability to send your message out to a specific circle, all your circles, or even to the public. It allows you to separate business from pleasure in a simple manner. Now, I have the ability to share information with my classmates and others interested in social media, without confusing my mother or boring my friends.

Google Circles

Google+ has an easy-to-use interface and incorporates awesome features like Huddles, Hangouts, Sparks, and the ability to upload multimedia instantly. Now I can huddle (chat) with friends all at once, which would be great to decide on things like where to eat or what movie to see. Hangouts might be my favorite feature because it allows me to do things like talk face-to-face with my whole family via video, even though my parents are in New York and my brothers are both international. You can learn more about these features in Googe's overview.

Google Hangouts

Will we see health care organizations moving into this space?

Right now Google is asking businesses to hold off on creating accounts as it is working feverishly on a corporate version of Google+. Meanwhile, it may be too early to tell, but there are a couple theories out there that Google+ "has the potential to significantly change the online health information landscape…”

A great blog post by Ragan Communications lists the top six reasons why health care communicators should turn their attention to Google+:

  1. The large amount of features
  2. The ability to fine-tune your settings
  3. The group feature
  4. The ease of use
  5. Controlling the aesthetics of the page
  6. The promise of the future

In the past, Google has made a few failed attempts (R.I.P. Google Buzz & Google Wave) at inserting themselves into the social network world, but it looks like Google+ may have finally hit the nail on the head. Have you hopped on the Google+ bandwagon? What do you think?

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