There’s a lot of feedback about Google Buzz since it launched. Some positive, some negative, and some just hilarious. There are some great things about Buzz, and there are certainly some flaws. But even if Google does nothing to change/modify Buzz, they’ve created a product that gives me everything I always wanted from Twitter but never got. Don’t misunderstand the point of this post. I still really enjoy using Twitter and will continue to do so. But Buzz offers some incredible features that I always hoped would come from Twitter.
Smaller, more genuine friends list. I don’t follow back on Twitter. At least not on my personal account. So the idea of building up networks of 10,000, 50,000, and 100,000 followers made of 50%+ spammers and bots really never appealed to me. I wanted Twitter to be about connecting with the people and the information I cared about. I choose to follow people that interest me, and my hope is that people follow me for the same reason, not with false hopes that I’ll follow them back.
Social media is not, and should not be a popularity contest. I want genuine friends to connect with. I want smaller, not bigger. Google Buzz gives me that. I would be shocked if I end up following more than a couple hundred people on Buzz. Ever. Because I’m not going to let random people I don’t care about fill my inbox. Sorry, not gonna happen I get enough email traffic as it is.
Threaded, not linear. The Linear posting was fine to start, but with hundreds or thousands of followers, it’s obnoxious to not have threaded conversations. A system where I can’t easily see who else has replied to a certain post? That makes absolutely no sense. With Google Buzz, they take from the initial Google Reader system of Like and Comment, and it works beautifully. Its this reason that I liked FriendFeed, but FriendFeed just never really got enough critical mass or interest for me. Linear posts are an anachronism, and Google Buzz does away with it.
Spam be gone. I have to imagine that most people will take my route and not follow back with their Buzz accounts. If that’s the case, there will be no market or growth potential for spammers on Google Buzz. Twitter was an easy breeding ground for spam accounts due to the ease of use and the existing (broken) social contract of following back. With no such contract in place (the only people I follow back *automatically* are the ones already in my contact list who I clearly have had some sort of interaction with), spammers are screwed you have to opt-in to follow them, something that will no doubt happen quite rarely.
Right where I want it. I already use Gmail as my primary (personal) email account. This means I don’t have to go download another application like Tweetdeck, Swift or Seesmic if I want to see my Buzz account. I don’t have to load up Facebook.com or FriendFeed.com if I want to view those live feeds. I’m already there. And it’s on my mobile phone, too. Listen, I’m lazy. The fewer clicks I have to make and websites I have to remember, the better.
Feature integration. Easy, intuitive integration of blog feeds, Twitter, Google Reader, etc. make this an easy win. You can integrate a number of feeds into Twitter as well, but the ease of use for Google Buzz is unparalleled, in my opinion.
Mobile did right. Buzz is perfect for mobile use. With an easy tie-in to Google Maps, it will easily (and quickly) provide extraordinary relevant and up-to-the-minute results. Now I fully understand why Google just decided to kill off their location-based Dodgeball. Buzz would have destroyed it anyway.
Imagine the possibilities with the Google Maps tie-in over time. First off, the Android platform will continue to take off, which will add a lot more users. Add live results to search so when you’re searching for Mexican Restaurant Seattle, you don’t just see the results, reviews, and websites, you see a heat map of what places are really hopping. Will this happen? Who knows, but I sure hope so.
The people I want to connect with. I don’t know about you, but most of my friends are already on Gmail. Maybe it’s a generational thing, but many of my friends and I connect over Gchat, and pretty much all of my friends from college exchanged our Gmail addresses when we left off to move on to the real world. This means that without doing anything, my FRIENDS are already connected to me through Buzz. Sure, there are plenty of additional people I will have to add, but this is a great start for me.
The negatives. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows for Buzz. There are still a handful of things it does worse than Twitter. But my hope is that over the next few iterations, some things will change. And if not, there’s no reason I can’t still use Twitter it’s still a great program.
Mass dissemination of information. By only following a tightly-knit circle of friends, news stories will take longer to get to me. Think of the idea of six degrees of separation. On Twitter, you’re really only 2 or 3 degrees away from a big story, because chances are you’re connected to one or two people who have hundreds of thousands of followers. When someone with a megaphone gets the news, it spreads like wildfire. News will take slightly longer to break on Buzz, but then again, do an extra 15 minutes REALLY matter? Plus, once you get the news, you can comment on it using threads, making things much neater!
Social media marketing campaigns suffer. Twitter was really easy to use when it comes to mass marketing a social media campaign. Stories were extremely easy to share (retweet), and a company with multiple products could create multiple accounts in order to divide and conquer. Buzz takes a step backward there. I don’t foresee many TV shows saying Follow us on Buzz! the way they did with Twitter. Could happen, but seems less likely. But marketers will find a way to penetrate Buzz, I’m sure. It’s just a matter of time.
New friend discovery. One of the advantages of Twitter is that it really introduced a lot of new people. Without Twitter, I may have never met some of the amazing people at SMC Seattle. Buzz makes it more difficult to discover that kind of people. But there are still opportunities using the Nearby feature on mobile, and by browsing other user comments. Frankly, it can be a more targeted networking solution you meet friends of friends, rather than complete strangers. But the downside is that it really gets rid of some of the fun discovery processes of meeting total strangers and connecting.
Automatic opt-in. I know a lot of people who don’t (or really won’t) care about Buzz. Being opted-in automatically isn’t ideal for them, as they really don’t want the extra clutter. But for those people, it’s not all that difficult to ignore. Seriously. Plus, now some people will be introduced to social media who never would have gotten started in the first place. This could turn out to be a good thing.