Thursday, 11 February 2010

Is Google Buzz Over-Hyped?

Following the Chrome browser, Nexus One mobile device, Wave and Chat, Google this week launched the latest in a line of new tools that are rapidly turning it from search engine specialist to all-encompassing communications behemoth. Google Buzz was launched amid much hype as a ‘Twitter Killer’ and a major competitor to Facebook. But is all the buzz justified?

Buzz combines a number of different social media tools into one platform. It has a friends function, commenting and media (photos, videos) like Facebook, it has simple, public status updates like Twitter, and it has geo-location based updates like FourSquare. And perhaps more importantly, it has a ready-made 175 million strong social network of people who have a Gmail account, which is the standard login process. Everyone one of these account holders is being given an invitation to sign up this week.

At first glance, Buzz would appear to be a social media dream. The equivalent of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr all in one place and combined with your email account? Genius! Except that you have to have a Gmail account to use the service, and can you really see people porting all of their contacts into Buzz? This could be a threat as much as an opportunity for Google. Furthermore, there are some pretty big privacy concerns over Buzz, as voiced in this excellent blog post.

But what of Buzz from a marketing and PR perspective? As it’s hardly out of it’s packaging, it’s a little too soon to see quite will work out for marketers – it is, after all, designed very much as a personal tool rather than something companies can use. But it’s only a matter of time before it opens up – Google won’t miss a trick like that! There’s a ‘follower’ function like Twitter, so it may be that Buzz evolves into more of a business tool for companies. But what it does do that other services don’t is attempt to filter content from your contacts so that the cream rises to the top (in theory). That lends itself to being creative with updates, images and videos, and that’s where marketing may come in due to the holy grail viral affect

In short, watch this space…

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