Google recently announced a new social media tool that is integrated into the company’s popular Gmail service.
Google Buzz seeks to make it easier to start and follow social media-like conversations about the things that interest you. And as an ecommerce business owner, Google Buzz offers a powerful new way to stay connected with customers, build you brand, and, potentially, boost sales. All told, after spending some time with Buzz, I was impressed enough to award it three and a half out of a possible five stars in this, “The PeC Review.”
“The PeC Review” is my weekly column created to introduce you to the products or services that I believe could help you improve your business. I only introduce you to good products with the hope that you’ll use the ones that make sense for your situation. So this week, let me explain why I like Buzz.
Video: My Thoughts on Google Buzz
About Google Buzz
Buzz is like Twitter with pictures and video, and it’s inside your email software.
First, it is integrated in every Gmail account, so there is nothing to sign up for. The first time you use Buzz, you will be asked to add a profile image, if you don’t already have one associated with your Google account, but that is about it.
Next, Buzz connects to other social media services. For example, you can associate a Twitter, YouTube, Picasa, Flickr, and/or Google Reader account right into Buzz. So when you tweet, you also Buzz.
Buzz supports inline video and photographs, which is something that Twitter cannot do, and presents both of these in an attractive way.
Finally, all of your Buzz updates, the updates from folks you follow, and recommended updates appear in a Gmail-style interface with which many users will already be familiar. And comments or responses show up in the Gmail inbox directly.
Google Buzz YouTube Commercial
From an ecommerce perspective, Google Buzz’s auto-follow feature is the most interesting to me. The very first time you use Buzz, you are automatically following the people you email and chat with the most.
This is important, because, if like me, you are now using Gmail for all of your ecommerce customer service, (see my review of Gmail for your business), you will automatically follow any of your customers or clients that are also using Gmail and Buzz.
The opportunity to better understand what customers care about by seeing what they Buzz and the possibility that my coupon or special event tweets—remember I can connect Twitter to Buzz—might show up in a loyal customer’s Buzz is huge.
I believe in contributing to social communities. For example, when a store takes part in a community, really adding value, it is a very powerful way to engage both potential and loyal customers. I also think that using Twitter or Facebook as another customer service channel is very effective. And Buzz offers me the possibility to do more.
Put simply, Buzz handles images and video very well, so I can and will include product images in my Buzz, or if a customer has a question that shows up in Buzz, I can respond not just with words, but with images or explanatory videos, not just links to images.
Easy Migration to Gmail
Using the standard @someuser format in Buzz sends a message via email to that user, inserting the message in his inbox. If that inbox happens to be in Gmail, that message could be an invitation to an instant message or a video chat, which means that a Buzz status update can be a vehicle to much better customer engagement.
Easy To Use
Because Buzz connects with my YouTube and Twitter accounts, it does not require me to do anything new. I can include Buzz just by continuing to post videos on YouTube or continuing to tweet on Twitter.
Of course, Google hopes that I’ll spend more time on Google Buzz than with other social media tools, but in truth, I don’t have to.
Just connecting my social media accounts to Buzz gives me a new social media engagement channel.
Social Reality: Too Much Information
Buzz also hopes to cut clutter.
Social media, which describes everything from Digg to Facebook to Twitter, is a very real phenomenon. Millions of people—me included—are using online communities to stay connected with friends, follow trends, and get information. But often there is just too much out there, just too much to follow.
For example, George Parker, a columnist with The New Yorker, wrote last month that social media had caused an information overflow.
“Every time I hear about Twitter I want to yell Stop [sic],” Parker said. “The notion of sending and getting brief updates to and from dozens or thousands of people every few minutes is an image from information hell. I’m told that Twitter is a river into which I can dip my cup whenever I want. But that supposes we’re all kneeling on the banks. In fact, if you’re at all like me, you’re trying to keep your footing out in midstream, with the water level always dangerously close to your nostrils. Twitter sounds less like sipping than drowning.”
In some ways, it is this sort of information flood that Google Buzz claims to address. In addition to everything else Buzz does, it seeks to filter the social content a user sees. Buzz does this by allowing users to organize the content they want to see, including Google-like search capabilities, and recommending content based on user behavior. While this feature might not have an impact on ecommerce, it is worth mentioning.
The Google Buzz Launch Video
Google Buzz is a new social media tool with a couple of unique features, like auto-following and video and image support. It also integrates easily into other leading social media outlets, so that it is simple to implement. Bottom line, I think that Buzz is a no-brainer for ecommerce marketing and worthy of the three and a half out of five stars that I’ve awarded it.