Quick Thoughts on Google Buzz

google-buzz Okay so when Google started pushing Google Profiles the other day I knew that they were laying the foundation for something social, and it wasn’t going to be Orkut on steroids, insert sarcastic giggle here.  I went ahead and setup my profile a few weeks ago, you can find my profile here…

Turns out my assumption was correct, Google launched Buzz this past week inside of Gmail, which I thought was a little odd of a way to launch at first, but after giving it some thought, it was probably a pretty stealth way to roll the product out.  I know a few people that didn’t even notice the link on the sidebar until I showed them, and one person totally missed it and didn’t know about Buzz until they hit the internal landing page that slapped them in the face once they had logged into their Gmail account.

Turns out Google had all of their ducks in a row in one regard prior to releasing Buzz onto the mainstream, they even have a wireless version of Buzz that they are promoting.  Setting up Buzz was pretty easy for the most part w/ one huge exception that might have only affected me, but it was annoying nonetheless…

The Problem Connecting Sites to My Buzz:

When I went in to setup my sites w/ my Google Buzz I first thought that surely they would just bring over the sites that were connected to my Google Profile page that I had created a while back, but that wasn’t the deal at all.  I had a list of sites that I could connect initially, like my Blogspot, Twitter, Picasa, Flickr, Digg, and YouTube just to name a few.  I set these accounts up, although I haven’t used Blogger in forever.  Underneath these sites I had 5 or 6 more sites that I could “connect”, none of these sites were my blog?  I found this odd and sat here scratching my head for a few minutes trying to figure out how they got the list of “suggested sites” that were my options.  These websites were actually sites that I had built for clients, and I had them listed and verified inside of my Webmaster Tools account, where I record their sitemap links, etc. 

I thought to myself for a moment that if maybe there was some way to delete these suggested sites that I would eventually work my way through the list of 800+ sites that I have in Webmaster tools until I got to my blog and I could do it that way.  Well, that wouldn’t work because I wasn’t able to do anything but add a site, couldn’t remove it from the “suggested” group of sites.

I went into my Webmaster tools account and went ahead and verified my blog (surprised I hadn’t done this a long time ago).  Once I did the verification process I went back into Google Buzz and clicked on selected sites again and noticed that my site was now in the list so I added it that way. 

What a headache!  I think it would have been much more efficient if users Buzz feed was originated by the sites that are connected to their Google profiles.  I am sure that Google had a reason for doing this but for the life of me I can’t think of why they would do it that way.

Now, here’s another dilemma I encountered.  While I was able to add Friendfeed as one of my connected sites, I got to thinking, if I connect all of these other sites to my Buzz, why would I need FriendFeed connected to my Buzz?  Wouldn’t that be overlap and duplicate content in my feed?  I opted to disconnect my FriendFeed from Buzz.  I still haven’t been able to get my Delicious links connected to my Buzz either.  Kind of makes me wonder if Google even wants third parties involved w/ their Buzz stream…  Has anyone else encountered the same issues that I have?  What am I missing?? 

Do We Need Another Social Network? And from Google?? 

It’s no secret that Google has attempted to get into the social networking business before, their Orkut product never really got wings for some reason, and I honestly think Google has known this for a while, which is why they never gave it a big push.  If you are unfamiliar w/ Orkut, here’s my profile you can checkout…

While Google Buzz is being labeled a Social Network, I don’t really see it as a “social network” like Facebook or Twitter.  In fact, I see it being more of an aggregator, sort of like what FriendFeed is.  I think eventually Google wants to be the place where you can plug in all of our “social properties” and content feeds.  If I was Google, that’s exactly the direction I would be looking as well, but I think they are going to have to package it a lot differently.

One component of Google Buzz that I did notice was that you can add friends more or less by “Following” people.  This component gives it the “social networkish-ness” but that’s honestly about all I have seen in that regard.  Friends can comment on other friends posts, etc.  I guess it’s sort of like Facebook w/out all of the Farmtown…

In Conclusion…

I don’t want to sound like I am down on Google Buzz, because as I mentioned earlier, I think that they have the right idea.  I just found the initial setup phase of joining to be somewhat frustrating and still don’t have my account setup w/ all of the sites that I want to connect but will live with things the way they are for now.

The bottom line, I think eventually if Google is persistent, they can grow Buzz into something cool that will rob other networks like Facebook and Twitter of face time, but it’s going to take some work.  I am advising my clients if they have the time to get their profiles setup and to start adding their sites to Buzz but not pushing it as something they need to do urgently…

Stay Tuned…

I think that the next edition of The Cotton Club might include some discussion regarding Google Buzz so be sure to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes so you don’t miss it.

In case you are unfamiliar w/ Google Buzz, here’s some info I found on the Google Blog:

We’ve blogged before about our thoughts on the social web, steps we’ve taken to add social features to our products, and efforts like OpenSocial that propose common tools for building social apps. With more and more communication happening online, the social web has exploded as the primary way to share interesting stuff, tell the world what you’re up to in real-time and stay more connected to more people. In today’s world of status messages, tweets and update streams, it’s increasingly tough to sort through it all, much less engage in meaningful conversations.

Our belief is that organizing the social information on the web — finding relevance in the noise — has become a large-scale challenge, one that Google’s experience in organizing information can help solve. We’ve recently launched innovations like real-time search and Social Search, and today we’re taking another big step with the introduction of a new product, Google Buzz.
Google Buzz is a new way to start conversations about the things you find interesting. It’s built right into Gmail, so you don’t have to peck out an entirely new set of friends from scratch — it just works. If you think about it, there’s always been a big social network underlying Gmail. Buzz brings this network to the surface by automatically setting you up to follow the people you email and chat with the most. We focused on building an easy-to-use sharing experience that richly integrates photos, videos and links, and makes it easy to share publicly or privately (so you don’t have to use different tools to share with different audiences). Plus, Buzz integrates tightly with your existing Gmail inbox, so you’re sure to see the stuff that matters most as it happens in real time.

We’re rolling out Buzz to all Gmail accounts over the next few days, so if you don’t see it in your account yet, check back soon. We also plan to make Google Buzz available to businesses and schools using Google Apps, with added features for sharing within organizations.
On your phone, Google Buzz is much more than just a small screen version of the desktop experience. Mobile devices add an important component to sharing: location. Posts tagged with geographical information have an extra dimension of context — the answer to the question "where were you when you shared this?" can communicate so much. And when viewed in aggregate, the posts about a particular location can paint an extremely rich picture of that place. Check out the Mobile Blog for more info about all of the ways to use Buzz on your phone, from a new mobile web app to a Buzz layer in Google Maps for mobile.

We’ve relied on other services’ openness in order to build Buzz (you can connect Flickr and Twitter from Buzz in Gmail), and Buzz itself is not designed to be a closed system. Our goal is to make Buzz a fully open and distributed platform for conversations. We’re building on a suite of open protocols to create a complete read/write developer API, and we invite developers to join us on Google Code to see what is available today and to learn more about how to participate.
We really hope you enjoy the experiences we’ve built within Gmail and for mobile phones. If you want to learn more, visit buzz.google.com. We look forward to continuing to evolve and improve Google Buzz based on your feedback.

If you are already using Google Buzz, I would love to hear your comments about the product. 

I have only had 48hrs with the product and I will admit that there might be a lot about the product that I am totally missing.