Google Circles may be why physicians will embrace Google+

Google Circles may be why physicians will embrace Google+After playing around with Google+ today, I’ve come away on a more positive note than my speculative post on Google’s social network recently.

Before experiencing Google+, I asked whether doctors can separate their personal and professional relationships, and how the Google Circles feature would help.

Well, if Google+ ever takes off for physicians, it will be because of Circles.

Tech blogs, however, are skeptical that most users would want to categorize their friends.

TechCrunch’s MG Siegler, for instance, writes,

Google has smartly made it so that you have to add people to Circles in order to “follow” them. This is a slight barrier to entry in terms of digging in and using the service, but it does bolster the Circle idea. But instead of creating a bunch of Circles, I foresee people simply shoving everyone into the default “Friends” or “Following” Circles and going about their business.

And consider PC Magazine’s take on the concept:

While I agree that most people separate their contacts into various groups in real life, doing so in a social network is a chore. It’s one of the reasons we have different social networks (LinkedIn for work, Facebook for friends, etc.). Asking people to do this kind of organizing proactively, on a single network, vastly overestimates the patience of Web users. Sure, some people are very organized and left-brained (like the engineers who created Google+), with spotless inboxes and well-maintained lists of contacts, but my feeling is that the vast majority aren’t.

While placing friends in different Circles may be an extra, unnecessary step for most, it’s essential for doctors who participate in public social networks.  Google+ forces you to classify contacts immediately, which makes it easy to have, say, a personal “Friends” Circle, and a more professional “Colleagues” Circle.  Better yet, these Circles can have different news streams, which makes it easy to separate personal and professional content.  It’s pretty slick.

Facebook has a similar feature, called Groups, but it’s cumbersome to use, and comes late in the game when users have already amassed hundreds of unsorted friends.

If Google+ ever reaches a critical mass, it has potential to be the social network of choice for physicians.  And Google Circles will be the main reason why.

Kevin Pho is an internal medicine physician and on the Board of Contributors at USA Today.  He is founder and editor of KevinMD.com, also on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

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