Saying that social networking has changed the dynamics of ‘how to use the Internet’. Since the launch of Orkut in 2004, Google has made the leap on the social networking bandwagon with rival rivals Facebook and Twitter. The latest version of Google’s bouquet of web-based applications is Google Buzz, a new tool intended to distance users from other social networking sites.
What is Google Buzz?
Google Buzz is an email-enabled social networking medium that (according to some) is about to take the social networking world by storm. It is designed to allow users to share photos, videos, links and status updates with their friends, as well as discuss shared content. This is similar to the news feed in Facebook in that regard. It is also similar to FriendFeed, a social sharing service that Facebook acquired last year with a small but following following.
The great thing about this application is its easy, one step integration with users’ existing Gmail accounts – something that Google is counting on to make this product a success. With a user-base of 174 million ‘Gmailers’, Google Buzz is looking at a huge pool of potential users.
Not so big, it is similar to a lot of services already on the market. Google Buzz looks like a “me-too” product. People already have many ways to share content with their friends: Facebook and Twitter are two popular options. Blogging is another. E-mailing text and pictures to friends is still very popular. So will Google Buzz succeed in switching consumers?
With a 400 million-strong loyal user-base, the social networking giant Facebook has been in business since 2007 and is rapidly growing in the market every minute. Constantly creating and adding new features, Facebook has managed to attract and retain more users than any other social networking site, and is Google’s No. 1 competition. In second place is Twitter, which has 18 million registered users.
Over the years, Google has made several attempts to catch up with the competition, but has not managed to pull it off.
Unstable track record:
Google has not established itself in the social networking space. The search-engine giant is struggling with building a loyal customer-base and seems to be able to handle more applications than the market. Most famously, Orkut failed to take off outside India and Brazil, and Google’s other social media efforts also crashed into the market: Dodgeball, Jaiku and OpenSocial, to name three.
Recently, Google launched Google Wave, another medium for sharing information, data and opinions, which did not really take off. Representatives of Google have acknowledged that Buzz was inspired by Google Wave and described it as “an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration”. “A wave can be both a conversation and a document, where people can discuss and work using richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.” Originally, Google Wave e-mail, instant messaging, an online collaboration tool and a wiki all rolled into one service. So what is the difference between Buzz and Wave?
Buzz vs Wave:
Google Buzz uses email updates while Google Wave is real-time communication (you can actually see someone typing their responses or comments on an individual wave) Wave was built on collaborative features such as editing a document Doing, planning an event, making meeting notes and more. But if you only want to share photos, videos or comments that don’t require real-time communication, then Google Buzz is probably the better option.
One of the problems with the Wave is that it is a difficult tool to explain to others, and once you understand what the Wave is, it is even more difficult to understand what you can do with it. Buzz, on the other hand, works similarly to e-mail and focuses on one thing: sharing content with others. This is perhaps one of the reasons why Google Wave did not perform as well as everyone expected.
Still, Google Buzz can be a lot more promising than its predecessor:
Buzz is, on one day, a better and more elegant service after six years than Facebook. Part of the reason for this is that Facebook had to build its network from scratch and in order to advance this category, many items had to be overcome to overcome this point. Meanwhile, Google has the advantage of being able to create Gmail and get good ideas from both Facebook and Twitter. I call it “second mover advantage”. Google Buzz is simple, elegant and very fast. Buzz makes it easy to include photos and other media in posts, which is a win on Facebook. Google is not used to making major changes, as users become comfortable with previous changes. Facebook seems to have a crack; Google does not
Google privacy defeats Facebook privacy. Despite being below # 1, Google usually gets good marks for protecting user data. Facebook has a series of secrecy, which has led to considerable user distrust. Buzz works inside Gmail. Integrating social networking into one application makes the majority of people live in e-mail, making it a more natural part of communication, not a separate online destination and process. Gmail users are the basis of your community in your contact list. Buzz automatically builds relationships, resulting in a social network in which you have more existing friends, provided they use Gmail. Creating a network automatically has pluses and minuses, but seems like a user benefit.
Potential for marketing:
Another point I would like to highlight is that Facebook has carved out a niche in the ‘informal and purely social’ space, with Google Buzz having the ability to target business user space. Today, the more users use Gmail and Gtalk for commercial use, the more users are more likely to create a permanent business network on this platform. This leaves a lot of space for B2B marketers who learn to use this medium effectively.
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