Google Buzz: What Is It Good For?: Part 2: Mashable Edition

February 28, 2010

1. Gathering Customer Feedback

Like Twitter, Buzz lets you post a message to a group of “followers” that subscribe to your updates. However, there are a few differences, namely that messages can be longer than 140 characters (and include supporting images and links) and that replies are all grouped under the original message. This makes conversations easier to track and follow up on. There are also built-in features to reply in a one-on-one way, via either e-mail or Google Talk.

Could Buzz be used in this way? Definitely. Will it be used this way tomorrow? No. Given some time, it could become a viable option, but for right now, Buzz is clunkier than email and doesn’t have the following of Twitter, making it harder to use Buzz to pull a Kevin Smith type publicity stunt. 

2. Engaging With Others

If you use Gmail, there’s a good chance you already have a built-in network on Google Buzz. The service helps you get started by letting you connect with those you e-mail or chat with frequently. Once you’re following some people, clicking the “Buzz” link from Gmail’s main navigation will let you see their most recent updates. You can comment on them, “like” them, or follow up personally with an e-mail or chat message.

Google Buzz does have a major advantage of being built right into your inbox. However, will this hurt Buzz instead of help? On the one hand, being able to respond via Buzz is incredibly convenient and with it’s direct line to Google Talk and Gmail, following up with a one-on-one conversation is a snap. But, it seems like many people are disabling Buzz for that very reason-it’s just too convenient. Email is seen as distracting enough to hinder productivity as is, add in Buzz and say good bye to you work day. If people start to turn on and off the feature and check it at certain times, like Twitter or Facebook, this could be a viable platform for engagement. But, if people are on their down time, do they really want to see their inbox piling up? 

3. Collaboration

Buzz can be used both for broadcasting a message to all of your followers and to select groups of them. If you’ve already set up Groups in Gmail, they’re already available in Buzz. If not, you can create new ones on-the-fly. Posting a private message on Buzz works exactly the same as posting a public one – you just select the Group you want to be able to see it, and then only those people will be able to view and comment on it. It’s instant, private collaboration.

Or since you’re already in Gmail, you could just shoot an email. Or use a Google Group. Or Wave. Or Google Docs. Just saying.

4. Marketing

It’s too soon to tell whether Buzz will have the type of impact for brick-and-mortar businesses that services likeYelp and increasingly Foursquare have had, but it has a very similar feature set. Users can “check in” at business locations, in turn notifying their followers of their whereabouts. Thus, encouraging your customers to check in on Buzz (and other location-based services) can be a way to drive free word-of-mouth marketing for your business.

This is the big one. IF people really jump on the bandwagon for this feature, Buzz could be huge. However with Foursquare being able to stream through Twitter, do people really want to check into one more place upon arrival. (Disclosure: I’m biased. I don’t use Foursquare because I barely have the patience to check my coat when I go somewhere. Add in calling my father and my quota is filled.)

5. Sharing Content

collaboration imageJust like Twitter and Facebook, Buzz has the potential to be a powerful medium for sharing content. You can use it to share blog posts, special deals, or interesting links related to your niche. Just like other social media services, you shouldn’t overdo it though – you want to mix promotional messages with a balance of other useful information and conversation for your followers.





And we’re back to the same arguments-do people want one more social medium to post things to and check into? Will the ease and convenience of Buzz integrated into Gmail and Google Talk give it an edge-or hurt it? The ability to have longer conversations in more of a forum-format IS nice and missing from other social media channels, and for this reason I’m sticking by my assertion that Buzz could become the next blog comment community forum. 






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