Exactly a week ago, Gmail users around the world noticed an interesting addition to their email accounts. Underneath their inbox was a new tab labeled “Buzz.” Although it may not have seemed immediately significant, this four-letter word has generated quite the impact. Buzz is Google’s boldest foray into social media yet – it allows users to instantly share thoughts, pictures, multimedia and social media feeds through their Gmail account. There has been some negative press regarding privacy issues with this new service, but all in all it seems as though Google has made a very smart move.
After only being widely available for a week, Google Buzz has experienced great success. Because it is wired directly into Gmail and users didn’t have to do anything to set it up, Buzz instantly gained over 38 million users in the United States alone. Look at that on a worldwide stage, and you’ve got some really impressive numbers.
So what exactly does Google Buzz allow you to do? First and foremost, you have access to its social media power the entire time you are signed into Gmail, which for many people is almost all day. In addition to this continuous and simple accessibility, some of the ways Buzz differentiates itself from other social media platforms is by allowing you to:
- Comment on Buzzes in real-time and easily access flagged posts that are popular among your friends
- Easily find people to follow through your contacts, as well as find new people to follow by checking out comments on your friends’ posts
- Receive instant email updates regarding new Buzzes, and respond to them immediately
- Sync with Google Reader, Picasa Web Albums, Flickr, Google Chat, and Twitter all at once, so that anything you post on those sites is automatically funneled into Buzz
- Quickly and easily embed, share and browse full-size photos
- Write longer posts that aren’t restricted by a character limit and share media more easily (YouTube links will automatically embed video into your Buzz)
- Use Buzz’s permalink functionality to easily email, link or share Buzzes with others
- Access Buzz from your mobile device
Because of these features, as well as several others, many users are quickly becoming fans of this newest wave of social media. According to an article published on Mashable entitled “Google Buzz Has Completely Changed the Game: Here’s How”, users have embraced Buzz because it:
- Is easy to use, accessible and convenient
- Creates a closer social circle
- Moves in real-time
- Engages users
Google had a few privacy issues to deal with regarding Buzz’s auto-following feature, but it quickly made some privacy tweaks, and appears to have been met with generous enthusiasm and a high volume of usage. Of course there are people who are less than pleased at the prospect of having to deal with yet another social media platform, and there are many who believe Google is simply trying to monitor every piece of information available on the Web. However, we’ll let you decide – give Buzz a try and see if it adds to your social media experience.
There’s talk that Buzz is going to provide some intense competition for other popular social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It’s unlikely that Buzz will ever eliminate those two dominant forces, but judging from its initial success, it is likely to at least slow their growth. Buzz is an open platform, so it won’t be long before developers are coming up with all sorts of apps, analytics, and other traffic-driving forces to enhance it. Those involved in the world of the Web would be wise to monitor Buzz’s progress – it may be just another social media site, but with the power of Google behind it, it could become much more.
Photo provided by siliconmonkey on Flickr.