Brands, Memes, and Google Buzz


googlebuzzlogo_socialnerdia_buzzwednesdayGoogle Buzz has created some buzz in the past couple of days. A Twitter killer it is not, but it is definitely the most exciting social web service I've seen since FriendFeed. Tim O'Reilly has said that Google has "taken the social media lessons of Twitter," and Jason Calacanis thinks "Google Buzz 1.0 is better than Facebook after six or seven years."

Not only does Buzz combine some of the best aspects of Google Wave, FriendFeed, and Twitter, but it's also built into GMail. By adding the mobile component (so we can take it anywhere), and integrating feeds from Twitter, Flickr, Picasa, and Blogger (so we can pull outside content), Google Buzz starts to sound like a very promising service of its own, and not just another GMail feature.

But the question that everyone is wondering about is:  Can Google really create a new social network that people will want to use?

It is true that Google has failed at many, if not all things social in the past, but this time it seems different. From day one, Buzz already makes great use of multimedia, is open to anyone, makes use of @ replies (ie. @socialnerdia@gmail.com), and allows us to have conversations in real-time.

So, with early adopters rushing to test, criticize, and/or embrace Google Buzz, should companies be creating accounts just as they have done on Twitter and Facebook?

Traditionally, companies have been slow to join social networks. The idea of unproven and confusing new social services creates unwillingness to jump in until other companies have. But with a rapidly changing and increasingly social online landscape, it is essential to understand the things that people are doing. In order to really "get it" companies could spend months researching, brainstorming, and strategizing. Or they could just do what regular people do: Jump in and experiment.

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Earlier today (well, technically yesterday), I opened up an account on behalf of Samsung USA. If you have not read my blog before, I recently joined Samsung as Social Media Manager; exploring new technologies and services is part of what I do for a living now.

In the first two hours I posted a few thoughts and started commenting on other postings, similar to how I usually interact on Twitter, but mostly focused around how Google Buzz works. I started following some of the people I usually think of first on Twitter. I figured I could try to do a #followfriday, even though I know Google doesn't support it in the way that Twitter does. So I "@ replied" some early adopter "buzzers" who were posting interesting things on Google Buzz and added a tag with meme potential: #BUZZwednesday.

After a couple of hours of playing with Buzz I decided to head out for a work out. On my way back, I received a "kudos" tweet with a link to a TechCrunch article. The title and link worried me at first, but it made sense once I started reading. Apparently MG Siegler, one of the "buzzers" I had written about had posted screenshots and thoughts about our Samsung buzzing. While the @ reply was what made MG aware of us, it was also what led him to think that "this" could "get annoying" because it so happens that when you @ reply someone on Google Buzz, it sends them an email that appears on Gmail's Inbox.

And I agree, it could get annoying, but not because of brands or people commenting and @ replying, but simply because Google still has some work to do in regards to how it organizes and helps us filter data. LifeHacker has some tips on how to filter it yourself, but I believe Google could help us out a bit.

Google is probably actively paying attention to what people are saying and how they are using the service. From Kevin Rose and Chris Pirillo to Robert Scoble and Dan Schawbel, everyone has great ideas about what Google Buzz could or should be. We are all starting to wonder if we will see clients like Seesmic for Buzz, as well as opportunities for third party apps, integration with monitoring services like Sysomos, and all kinds of other things.

As for me, I intend to continue to explore Google Buzz. I really think everyone working in business, marketing, advertising, customer service, and anything related to the web, should start exploring as well.

Google Buzz is great for personal use, but it will also evolve to be a good place for companies to listen and engage with people. As cheesy as that may sound, "listening" and "engaging" with customers and potential customers could be more valuable than what we have typically come to know as marketing.

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I'm very proud to work for a company that embraces the future of the web and is willing to explore areas that are still "unproven." I'm also proud that Samsung was the first major brand to give Google Buzz a try. It was very cool to see that many of those already on Buzz were not only welcoming, but also highly encouraging of brands like Samsung joining in:

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Disclaimer: I am a Social Media Manager for Samsung Electronics. While I am employed by Samsung, the views expressed on this blog are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of Samsung.


Copyright © Esteban Contreras. All rights reserved.