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Is Google Buzz taking on E-mail, Twitter, Facebook?

Posted: February 11th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Social Media | No Comments »

Every morning, as I log in to my laptop my startup-routine continues to expand. I launch a slew of websites to catch up on email, chat, and find out what’s going on in the world, locally and in the tech world. I’ll launch Outlook, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, Google Apps, and now I find myself launching Gmail as well, for Google Buzz.

What is Google Buzz?

Google Buzz was launched on Tuesday as an integrated social media application within Gmail. It allows you to stay connected to your friends for a real-time interaction. Similar to Twitter where you can post a status but there seems to be no limit on how many characters you can publish, you can upload pictures (not a link) or sync with Picasa, you can display link and it’ll give you a little snapshot of it. It also allows your followers to comment and like your post.

Many are talking about how Google Buzz is taking on Twitter or Facebook. I don’t necessarily see it as a threat but a very simple tool that if used could prove to be better than Twitter, Yammer, or Present.ly for an internal network.

Is Google Buzz trying to change email?

I don’t think so as Sergey Brin put it there are different “social expectations” with email, IM, and something like Buzz. Email it’s more formal or personal that might require more attention. IM can be casual or serious but there’s an expectation to respond similar to email. With Twitter, Facebook, or Buzz there’s no real expectation for one to respond unless it’s being used to collaborate.

Google recently did attempt to take on a collaborative suite with Wave, but quickly learned that people weren’t ready to evolve their email habits. Now we have Buzz.

How about a Threat to Twitter?

Twitter gives you a platform to share publicly with everyone; Twitter had such a spark in growth because of celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Diddy, and even President Obama. But I don’t see that happening on Google Buzz, as it is a little more personable than Twitter.  It’s integrated within your email so you’re already more protective of it than say an application like Twitter where it’s public.

What about to Facebook?

It’s not a threat to Facebook, because Facebook offers a different user experience today than does Buzz. Facebook is a more rich experience. Google Buzz I keep on and it’ll run in the background. Facebook is something that I need to be on and spend time on. It’s more interactive from groups, fan pages, applications, events, video, and so much more. People spend hours playing games on Facebook. The two are different. Google Buzz helps you converse in real-time Facebook helps you stay connected and possible even gives your personal life structure.

Is it a Threat?

Where Google Buzz is a threat is to companies like Yammer, or Present.ly. The two companies offer micro-blogging tools for enterprises. To keep your employees connected, they allow you to share comments, post updates, exchange and discuss ideas. Buzz already allows this you can create different sets of groups: friends, family, co-workers, and you can even create your own. When you want to post an idea or want to discuss a project you post a message and select the group you want to discuss it with. When it’s posted only those group members can see and reply to your post.

If Google can integrate Buzz into Google Apps for businesses that would present a major threat to enterprise micro-blogging sites.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) Google is current-day Microsoft; they just do it better.

I was first resistant to Google Buzz as I didn’t use Gmail anymore but I still used Google mail (same platform as Gmail but you can have your domain email hosted there) and didn’t know if I wanted yet another area to update my “Status”. But after couple days of using it I do see the value in it as an enterprise micro-blogging tool.

What I like about it, which some people on the web don’t, is that it has threaded comments. Where I or others can reply to your comment and it stays organized under the main post. With Twitter I can reply with “@username” but you may have posted other items and not know what I’m replying to. So then I have to RT (retweet) it with my reply but, again, we’re limited to 140 characters. So in the end it gets lost with the RTs and hash tags. I don’t use Twitter as much as I thought I would or hoped to.

There are flaws:

It’s limited to people with Gmail, and only a fraction of the people use it for email.

There are also some privacy issues that have been blown out of proportion; they can be fixed with a simple edit to your profile.

The esthetics of the Google’s profile is not as appealing as Facebook but there’s definitely room for growth.

The username is your email address which exposes your email address. If you add “@gmail.com” to the username that will give people your email address. Someone definitely dropped the ball on that one. This presents a major spammer problem.

Everything is PUBLIC! Know that whatever you post that is marked public will become public on the biggest, most used search engine in the world. So be careful of your words and links as this can have negative effects in the present or future. With something like Facebook, only your friends can see what you’ve posted and recently Facebook has rolled out many privacy tools.

What Google Buzz has done has taken pieces of current social media sites and mixed them together.  Buzz has the potential to take a piece of Twitters, Yammer, Present.ly’s market share but the major flaws need to be fixed for it to be successful.


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