Google has taken the plunge into the world of social media with its announcement about Google Buzz. Its foray into the social media is a melding of pieces of Facebook and Twitter.
Google Buzz is a new way to start conversations about the things you find interesting and share updates, photos, videos, links and more. There will be no more fuzzy little pictures: Buzz makes it easy to quickly flip through photos and experience them the way they were meant to be seen: big and full-resolution. And videos play inline so you can watch them without opening a new window.
Buzz is built right into Gmail, so you don’t have to peck out an entirely new set of friends from scratch — it just works. Buzz sets you up to follow the people you email and chat with the most. You have the choice to share publicly with the world or privately to a small group of friends each time you post. You can connect other sites you use, such as Picasa, Flickr, Google Reader, YouTube and Twitter, so your friends can easily keep up with what you’re doing online — all in one place.
Making sure that you don’t miss out on the best part of sharing, Buzz sends responses to your posts straight to your inbox. Unlike static email messages, buzz messages in your inbox are live conversations where comments appear in real time.
There are many basic tasks you can perform using Buzz such as leaving a comment on someone else’s buzz, liking it, or even emailing it. And you can make your buzzes private or public too. One of the major benefits is the excellent built-in search functionality. The Buzz search beats Twitter’s search hands down and is definitely one of its killer features.
You can follow the specific people whose posts you want to see, but Buzz also recommends posts from people you’re not directly following, often ones where your friends are having a lively conversation in the comments. If you’re not interested in a particular recommendation, just click the “Not interested” link and your feedback will help improve the recommendations system. Buzz also weeds out uninteresting posts from the people you follow — collapsing inactive posts and short status messages like “brb.” These early versions of ranking and recommendations are just a start; they’re working on improvements that will help you automatically sort through all the social data being produced to find the most relevant conversations that matter to you.
Buzz is also available on your mobile phone. It uses your mobile device and geo location technology to see where you are which can put context into the items that you share on the go. When you’re out on the move, a lot of the information you want to share often has to do with where you are or what you are doing: for example, you may want to buzz about a trendy hair saloon that you are patronising for the first time or the score of the English Premier League game you’re watching at a sports cafe. Buzz for mobile thus brings location to the forefront and makes it easy to have conversations about places. Additionally, the ability to see who is buzzing around you (it doesn’t matter whether you are following them or not) is really neat. Buzz’s integration with Google Maps comes in very handy to find “hot spots” or areas where people have left advice, tips and the like.
In the months to come, it will be very interesting to see how Google Buzz fares against Facebook. Will Buzz triumph over Facebook to become the “Google” of social media? Let’s wait and see!