Saturday, June 11, 2011

Google Buzz: land of pioneers

Google Buzz has been capturing a great deal of my imagination lately. When I look at all the ways in which it integrates with other services, it seems like open territory waiting to be explored.

The down side is that I have somewhat forsaken the other social networks. For example, Google Latitude allows you to check in to places. This works for now as I want to cultivate friendships on Buzz.

In Buzz, I find that there indeed is a community; but, it's very different from the A-list social media crowd. It's kind of like what social media was back in the days. People share, discuss, and chat; but it tends to be a tighter group.

Most social media big names have shied away from Buzz because they don't enjoy the same numbers of followers there. They will tell you all day about cultivating community and reaching out to your audience; that is, only if everybody jumps on the bandwagon with them. Otherwise, it's a failure.

In the case of Google Buzz, it's actually a good thing that the big names stay away. It forces you to discover people you may not have ever known simply being one of the fans.

I've written how prepaid phones are bringing in more and more Google users, who are accidentally discovering Buzz through Google Maps. Android users don't need an app to participate in Buzz; it's built in to Maps. Somebody also pointed out to me that many people have Facebook blocked at work, so Google Buzz gives them a way to socialize. Gmail does not typically get blocked.

Whatever brings users to Google Buzz, the end result is that it is sticky in its ability to retain users. In my experience, Buzz also seems to have greater diversity in terms of user nationalities. I am fascinated that some of my Buzz friends live in so many different countries than my Twitter and Facebook friends.

Overall, I don't think Buzz will end up stealing users away from other networks. It has a different vibe and utility. Google Buzz will be in addition to rather than instead of. For now, it's full of pioneers.

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