Did anyone else see the news about Google Buzz and feel a massive sense of closure? The lack of a comprehensive social networking tool always felt like a huge hole in Google’s armoury, but it was only a matter of time before they entered the arena.

Rumours were flying round the web earlier this week about the launch of a new product. The Wall Street Journal reported on a new tool for gmail, and then Mashable posted excitedly about an invite to Google HQ.

So, What’s The Deal?


Google Buzz was launched on the 9th of February at a private event in Google HQ. Bradley Horowitz, VP for Product Management, announced the new tool and talked about humanity’s desire to share in a real time environment.

The Elevator Pitch:

It’s an aggregator and sharing tool that sits right inside your mobile and gmail. There are loads more details about the service below the fold in this Mashable article, but as with many similar tools, it’s much easier to see them in practice than read about them.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yi50KlsCBio[/youtube]

And for a social media marketer? It’s quite possibly a dream come true…

Are People Actually Going To Use It?

As opposed to other social networks that require you to take an initial action to join and then regular action to upkeep your account, Google Buzz will sit right inside a product that you’re probably already addicted to. I imagine that avoiding Buzz will be like trying to ignore the Superbowl commercials.

For marketers, this will probably mean an unprecedented rate of adoption across a whole new kind of audience. Gmail has a huge reach and it’s growing more rapidly than any other mail client. Because of this new audience, viral content could become an even more irresistible investment for a lot of companies.

I also find it hard to believe that Google won’t somehow integrate what’s ‘Buzzing’ into its ever-updating search results page. This could go someway towards negating the problem of links, followed or otherwise, on the social web.

Who Cares?

You mean apart from everyone? As you’d expect, Mashable have had pretty good coverage and wasted no time setting up their own Buzz account.

Unsurprisingly, this launch has also brought out responses and attacks from competitors. Microsoft and Yahoo have both had something to say:

“Busy people don’t want another social network, what they want is the convenience of aggregation. We’ve done that. Hotmail customers have benefited from Microsoft working with Flickr (Flickr), Facebook, Twitter and 75 other partners since 2008.”

Ouch. Yahoo was a bit less confrontational. It opted for the gently-gently approach of reminding everyone about Yahoo’s existing social features:

“There are now more than 200 Yahoo! and third-party sites that feed into Yahoo! Updates – like Flickr, Twitter, YouTube (YouTube), Yelp and Yahoo! Buzz – allowing people to see and share updates such as when they’ve uploaded photos, changed their status, buzzed up a news story or posted a new restaurant review, all from Yahoo!”

Wait, What About Google Wave?!

The relatively recent launch of Google Wave had set me slightly on edge. Yes, collaboration is important, but the product just didn’t set me on fire the way I would’ve hoped. It’s hard to tell so soon after Buzz’s launch, but the noise around this product seems to be a lot more encouraging. Its up-close-and-personal integration with Gmail hopefully means it’ll appeal to the ‘average user’ more than the collaborative complexities of Google Wave.

Even if Google Buzz isn’t perfect right out the box, I don’t think Google’s going to let this one go easily. They have a solid track-history of refining and improving products according to the feedback of fans and users and their online presence reflects that; they’ll work and work until Google Buzz becomes irresistible.

Google Buzz is like the final bit of the jigsaw. And the picture it depicts? Total web dominance.

Guest post by Lucy Langdon, who writes about online marketing and environmental issues.