Last week Google announced a new product called Buzz.

There’s been a lot of talk about what it is and what social network it’s designed to "kill" and so on. I’m going to take a look at what this product is, how it works and what you might want to do with it. This tool is very new so take this as an early-adopters-only/beta-beta-beat reviews.

At first blush, Google Buzz looks just like Twitter. It’s a text box for you to enter in bits of information, links, etc. This has led lots of people to think it’s a "Twitter killer." That sort of conversation is probably more distraction and noise than it is useful. Let’s dig into it a little.

Bolted on to Gmail

One of the first things I noticed was that Buzz isn’t a standalone product. So if you don’t have Gmail, you’ll have to get Gmail in order to use Buzz. This is a little obnoxious for those of us who don’t use Gmail, but whatever — you win some you lose some. Remember though, signing up for a Gmail account doesn’t mean you have to actually use that e-mail address.

Tying Buzz into Gmail creates a few barriers: It isn’t as easy to start using as Twitter or other sites where you simply start an account and get going. Also, since it’s nested into your Gmail, there’s all this other distraction floating around. I know, let’s take a short-format distracting medium and add more distractions.

The other thing about tying Google Buzz into Gmail is that if you already use your Gmail account, it picks out some friends for you to be following based on people you e-mail frequently. Maybe this is nice. Also, since your Buzz feed is publicly available on your Google Profile, this feature lets the world know who you e-mail frequently. Pretty useful. If they haven’t modified this feature by the time this article is published, I bet they modify it soon.

Social content aggregator

Once you’ve gotten your Gmail account, you can tie other social networking and content platforms to your buzz account. As of this writing you can integrate the following into your Buzz stream:

  • Twitter
  • Flickr
  • Picasa
  • Any site you have verified through Webmaster Tools
  • Google Reader (for shared items)
  • YouTube
  • Google Chat Status

After all that it starts to look like a "FriendFeed Killer" except that there’s really no need for one of those. …CONTINUED

What to do with it

Google Buzz is pretty much just another social content aggregator that’s been shmooshed into Gmail. It’s going to make you use Gmail maybe.

Or maybe it’ll make you care more about your Google Profile. It’ll certainly make your Google Profile more useful since it will contain more up-to-date information.

One way to use it would be as an aggregator. Connect all your social content sites to it and let it generate a big feed that shows up on your Google Profile. Then maybe use your Google Profile a little more.

For example, hook your various blogs up to Google Buzz to make them publicly available on your Google Profile. Then you’ve got one place with all your content. Maybe list your Google Profile on your business card instead of your twitter handle and your blog, etc., etc.

If you’re a little underwhelmed by this so far, you’re probably not alone. There’s nothing here that hasn’t been done before. Though having the Google name on it will help. And the giant install base of existing Gmail users definitely gets it rolling.

Mostly this looks like a defensive maneuver more than creating something new and useful. As Twitter disrupts e-mail (what’s your response time for an e-mail vs. a Twitter direct message?), building a Twitter-like service that is mashed into Gmail makes sense for Google.

Also, as Twitter disrupts RSS feed readers (why use my reader when people I trust will already be telling me what to read via Twitter), having a Twitter-like system that ties into Google Reader makes sense for Google.

I don’t see a ton of uses for how Google Buzz makes sense for users. That doesn’t mean I won’t (I’ve been playing with it only a few days, after all). Remember how the Twitter resistance held out. Maybe Buzz will change things up. Or maybe it’s just a gambit for Google to make their feed reader relevant and to get more ads delivered.

For now, I’d say for low-impact usage hook up your blogs and worthwhile social content streams so that your Google Profile is up to date. And keep an ear out for how it gets better or (like so many Google projects) dropped.

Gahlord Dewald is the president and janitor of Thoughtfaucet, a strategic creative services company in Burlington, Vt. He’s a frequent speaker on applying analytics and data to creative marketing endeavors.


What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor.

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