Google’s Buzzing, again

February 10, 2010

Google BuzzIn case you missed Google’s Press Conference last night, Google launched a new social platform called Google Buzz. The Web has shifted to becoming extremely social and interactive in recent years, and this is going to continue without a doubt. Twitter and Facebook have been dominating the “conversations” on the Web, and now Google Buzz appears that it might change things – perhaps totally, but definitely in some or other way.

According to Google, Google Buzz is “a new way to start conversations about the things you find interesting and share updates, photos, videos and more. Buzz is built right into Gmail, so there’s nothing to set up — you’re automatically following the people you email and chat with the most.”

Before I continue, I want to say this: In my talks and writings over the past 2 years I have been emphasizing the importance of principles, not technical intricacies. The technologies are ever-changing – these websites that we know now were not around a few years ago, and they will be drastically improved and changed, or even replaced, in the coming years. My focus is on the underlying principles and fundamentals about why Web 2.0 and Social Media is so powerful. Once you have a grasp of them, the technology changes will not affect your ability to harness the full potentials of the online tools available.

Back to Google Buzz…

We’re not sure about the affect that this new platform will have on Twitter and Facebook. Firstly, it allows for status updates, commenting, liking, and also integrates with blogs, Flickr, and YouTube. It has a “Friendfeed” feeling to it as well. The only thing that stumps me at present is that it sits within Gmail, and on a “Google Profile” page. Personally, I use my Gmail account very rarely – my business emails are all in Google Apps accounts. Buzz will be integrated, but only in a few months time. There has been no talk of an API – but I don’t see Buzz surviving without it. Due to the API of the other social networks, I manage Twitter, Facebook, and even LinkedIn via TweetDeck. This simplifies my life a whole lot, and makes my social interaction much more valuable.

I agree with Augie Ray from Forrester Research:

“While bringing relevance filtering to the noisy social media world could prove a significant advantage, this doesn’t (yet) seem to be enough to pull people away from the networks they’ve already created elsewhere. Buzz doesn’t update user’s Twitter or Facebook feeds, so I expect experimentation but not wholesale switching in the foreseeable future. Buzz could end up supplementing rather than replacing users’ other social networks for now.”

What does get me excited about Buzz is the mobile access – available at buzz.google.com – and the extremely advanced integration with Google Maps.

Google Buzz Google Buzz

Google says:

With Buzz for mobile, we hope you can start interesting conversations about places and be more spontaneous when you are out and about. How many times have you missed a fun event, even though it was nearby? Or a better choice of dessert, just because you didn’t know about it? How often have you wondered “Where are you?” when reading a text message from a friend? Now, you can use Buzz to learn that there is going to be a movie night at your favorite park, share with the world that there is an awesome ice cream place right around the corner, or tell your friends about that delicious homemade lasagna.

The Google Buzz for mobile video explains it all:

The mobile component of Google Buzz is believed to impact Foursquare, and I think that will prove true, at least to some extent.

Mashable’s article “Google Goes Social with Google Buzz” gives a very nice overview of Google Buzz – read it here.

Also, read these very useful Mashable articles (all posted only hours after the release of Google Buzz):

What Google Buzz Means for Mobile
The Location Implications of Google Buzz
target=”_blank”Google Buzz: What It Means for Twitter and Facebook
Google Buzz: Competitors and Experts React
Google Buzz: Will You Use It? [POLL]

I was surprised to receive access to Google Buzz immediately, I assumed US users would be linked up first. You can connect to me at http://www.google.com/profiles/jamaal786. I’ve been following the conversations on Twitter, and many folks can connect to Buzz via their mobiles, but not yet via their Gmail accounts on the Web.

Of course, if you want to avoid the Buzz altogether, this article might be of use to you: Banish Google Buzz Updates from Your Gmail Inbox.

At the time of writing this post, about 7 hours after the Google announcement, the topic is still very hot online, with blog posts being written, podcasts been produced, and thousands of tweets flooding Twitter. I’ve estimated about 2, 500 new tweets with the words “Google Buzz” every 3 minutes. You do the math.

Facebook’s Latest Redesign

February 7, 2010

Facebook has launched it’s latest redesign this weekend. The first deployment has been to 80 million users – just a fraction of it’s 400 million user-base.

Many people are complaining about login and news feed problems, and I expect that this will be the case for the next few days. Many users like the new design though, and I assume there’ll be less of an outcry about this UI upgrade.

Peter Deng presented the new changes in a private press meeting. Thanks to Mashable for making this video available:

Social Media ROI

February 7, 2010

Social Media ROI

The traditional business mind has been trained to ascertain what the ROI (the Return On Investment) is before seriously considering any injection of time or finances.

Social Media, being new and a current hype, is commonly the target of the “What’s the ROI?” question. Actually, I don’t believe it’s all hype. I believe Social Media is truly valuable. Yes, there is a lot of “noise” in these spaces, which I know will emerge into clearer patterns of communication, but even this “noise” is important, because it’s shaping Social Media.

A few months ago Scott Stratten (@unmarketing on Twitter) shared something with us. A friend asked him what the ROI was on Twitter. In answering, Scott asked his friend, “What is the ROI on our friendship?” This story is profound, and I’ve related it thus far in 2 public seminars. It’s profound because the ROI of Twitter, and Social Media as a whole, is intangible – just as in relationships.

Is it all about business? Is it all about numbers? Or is it all about people?

I highly recommend this book: “It’s not about the coffee” by Howard Behar. Visit the official website here. Howard is a Former President of Starbucks International. When we think Starbucks, we think coffee, right? Well, Howard goes at length in this book to illustrate that it’s really about the people, not the coffee.

He says:

At Starbucks, the coffee has to be excellent, from the sourcing and growing to the roasting and brewing. The vision has to be inspiring and meaningful. Our finances have to be in order. But without people, we have nothing. With people, we have something even bigger than coffee.”

“Opportunities lie within people” – something I learnt from Mignon Lotz-Keyzer, the owner of a company called PEERPOWER. I sat in her coaching sessions as part of a business programme in 2007. Mignon is a people’s person, and she did an excellent job in helping us understand the value of the human factor. We also covered Covey’s 21-year old masterpiece, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, with her.

Yesterday I came across an interesting article titled There Is No ROI From Social Media! I’d like to share with you the video at the bottom of the article, which sums up the Social Media ROI question quite nicely:


Photo credit: intersectionconsulting

Facebook gets into email?

February 7, 2010

EmailRumour has it that Facebook is developing it’s very own Web-based email system. The system is dubbed “Project Titan” and if successful, will prove to be a rival for Google and Yahoo. Facebook us currently celebrating it’s 6th birthday, and has recently passed the 400 million user mark.

This new development is said to be an enhancement to Facebook’s current messaging system, which it has – to the joy of many – been steadily improved over the past few years.

Do we need another email address though? I’m not sure about you, but I have about 5 already. I have also become quite used to the current messaging system – which is confined to Facebook users, and offers quite a convenient option for communication. Folders would be a good addition though.

The Los Angeles Times says:

With Facebook gravitating to the center of the online world for hundreds of millions, it is well positioned for such a move. Facebook users already stay in touch and share links and photos with friends on the social networking site, making it a logical place to e-mail and chat. Time spent on Facebook soared to 27.6 billion minutes in December, up from 17.8 billion minutes in October, according to data from ComScore.

Facebook is all about communication, whereas Yahoo aggregates content and Google focuses on search. Yet both Internet giants have legions of faithful e-mail users and deep stakes in the messaging market. The proof for Facebook will be in the execution.

So it would make sense that Facebook tap the creator of the popular Gmail to lead its effort that TechCrunch reports has been dubbed internally “Project Titan” and that some employees have unofficially dubbed “Gmail killer.”

Facebook’s Paul Buchheit, a former Google engineer, denies working on an email product.

Should Facebook really be delving into these waters? Or should they be focused on improving their social networking platform?

Photo credit: biscotte