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by Lucy Griffiths on 10th February 2010
Google are to launch a new social media tool that will be bolted on to their Gmail service. But has Buzz got enough to compete with Facebook and Twitter?
With the social media bandwagon continuing to gather momentum, Google have now thrown their hat in the ring. Not satisfied with integrating Twitter updates in their SERPs or introducing Social Search [see: Google's Social Search Adds Further Personalisation to SERPs], they are now getting in on the action with a new platform of their own – Google Buzz.
But with Twitter and Facebook seemingly cornering the market, is there really enough room for Buzz to get take a slice? Conventional logic would suggest not, but this is Google.
It would take a brave man to suggest that a Google product will fall flat on its face, and I’m certainly not going to buck that trend. But Buzz does have an uphill challenge. Facebook is the king of social media. With 350 million users and the second largest traffic stream (behind Google.com) of an individual domain, there is undoubtedly healthy competition out there.
What Google does have on its side is brand recognition. Gmail is one of the most popular email services and their search engine receives 80% of all online searches; in short, Buzz has a decent marketing platform. Integration on Gmail will also mean integration on Android mobiles, not least the Google Nexus One; all of which makes mobile an important battleground for Buzz.
Introductory video for Google Buzz
With Google Wave, Gmail and Google Talk all offering ‘communication solutions’, does the Google brand really have the space for a social media presence too? Are they also in danger of cross-promoting social services? By now including social media messages within SERPs, they are effectively adding to the marketing efforts of their competitors.
The link to Gmail could also prove troublesome. Whilst useful for initial uptake, it does alienate a good deal of the Internet’s general public. In time it might receive a general release, away from the constraints of email, but at the moment it is bound by limitations.
But Buzz isn’t anything new. I don’t even think that Google are trying to claim that it is. Essentially it offers many of the same services you can get on Facebook – photo sharing (using Picasa), messages and email bolted on. In truth Buzz is just a way of organising all of these existing services and bringing them into one neat package. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing of course.
Even with the full weight of the Google brand and the possibility for serious mobile coverage, it is unlikely that Buzz will be making any kind of a dent in Facebook’s superiority just yet. The concept, as with any social media site, is a simple but effective one. Unfortunately its success relies on the swift uptake by the masses (as with Wave), otherwise it will always be flawed.
To do this though they need to convince Facebook users that Buzz offers something their current provider doesn’t. With friends and contacts already well established on Facebook, why would they then abandon it to start afresh elsewhere?
Social media is reaching saturation, both as a term and a platform. Innovation seems to have taken a back seat to integration and Buzz appears to be no different. Interesting, but ultimately just one more name in a crowded market.
What do you make of Buzz? Is it something Google have rolled out as a necessity, but without high expectations? Does it have enough to convince the users of MySpace and Twitter to abandon their current site of choice?
Lucy is an Internet Search Specialist focusing and working with clients on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) strategies.