If you haven’t already heard, Google released a new Social Media offering called Buzz, a hybrid love child of Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter.
Buzz is still in its infancy, one of the easiest ways of jumping on the Buzz wagon is to have your tweets buzzed automatically, which is fairly straightforward. Buzz supports all the same# tags and @ mentions, so your twitter tweets work the same in Buzz.
But in my opinion this is a total waste of time. Buzz is many different things and it may seem similar to twitter but its not! Buzz should be used in a way that plays to its different strengths. I see it as a new tool in the social media armory of the local business (find out how your business can benefit from Social Media training here). The targeting of your local market is also great for SEO – see our new Search Engine Optimisation Course in Brighton, Sussex, to learn more.
Buzz is many things to a small business, read on and find out what…
Buzz is discussion
I liken using Twitter for business as using a man on the street corner handing out leaflets; You tweet something, maybe a link, maybe some important short announcement, but that’s it. The followers are expected to either go to the link or not. simple right?
Now Buzz, on the other hand is the booth inside the shopping centre (mall to you transatlantic folk!) where the salesperson says something that makes you stop and walk over to talk, to discuss something. Google Buzz is a discussion platform, newsgroups for the 21st century. If you are familiar with using twitter to interact with your customers or reader base then Buzz is a real boon to these efforts.
I started using Buzz on day one and followed the usual people, Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, LeoLaporte etc. what I found was that Buzz was being used in two ways, some people used it like twitter and other used it differently and some used it like a threaded conversation. This second use is the most interesting from a business point of view.
Buzz is Business Friendly
Now this is where is gets interesting. As a local business you want to get reach, you want to engage your customer base and keep your business on their mind.
Google Buzz makes this a breeze in two ways; firstly is gives you a platform for discussion.
There are no limitations on the length of a Buzz or the type of content (in contrast to twitter’s 140 character limit) which gives the small business different ways to interact with customers. For instance something as simple as a restaurant snapping a pic of two dishes and buzzing what the followers think should be the dish of the day.
Of course with Twitter you can do the same thing, but Buzz lets your customers interact with each other too. They can comment on the buzz but be replying to another customer, they can see everything that everyone else has said easily and in one place. That’s not all though, as the buzzer (is that what we are calling them??) you can view every response in a threaded way, much like a forum, much like a discussion!
Buzz is Geo Location
Lets not forget Buzz throws geo location data into the mix as well. When you use buzz inside Google’s maps application on your iPhone, Nexus One or any other phone with maps support you have an option to add a buzz layer. This overlays all the geo located buzz’s in your local area.
Ok great, people will know where I am when I buzz, So what?
Well, a single engaging buzz gives the local business an instant hyperlocal advertising campaign. If I had followed the previous example up and made a post from my phone then i could tag my location as the restaurant; Showing everyone using Buzz on their phones where the restaurant is and what offers it has on right now.
But you can do this on twitter right?
Of course you can, but geo location in Buzz differs in two important ways.
Everybody in the local area can see the buzz, irrespective of whether they are following you or not.
When searching for a business on Google maps (on your phone) there’s a button “buzz about this place” which lets customers buzz about your business and let’s potential customers see whats buzzing. Even negative buzz can be made positive with a little interaction. Google Buzz allows you to comment on any public buzz so a few choice comments can turn a negative buzz positive. This feature alone is potentially a bonus for business’ SEO (find out more about SEO for local business’ on our SEO course). The more said about the company the higher up the Google local page will be on search results.
Buzz is integrated into Google maps, the most popular maps application for smart phones, so you can guarantee that anyone in your area searching for a business will see all the buzz posts.
Forget leaflet dropping, in the next 6 – 12 months Buzz will be the tool to use for this kind of targeted local advertising.
It gets even better if your business has been using Gmail. There’s been a lot of disparaging remarks about Gmail using your contacts as a base for people to follow. While not such a great idea for personal users (such as myself) its a great idea for people that use it for business as it starts you up with an instant follower base and continually suggests to the people that you email to follow you on Buzz making it easier to gain followers.
Buzz is young
So Buzz seems a pretty good tool to use but its a toddler to Twitter’s teenager and Facebook’s 20 something, its early days and there are problems and skepticism.
This is a double edged sword for businesses; on the one hand its great if your customers use Gmail and you can leverage their use of it, on the other hand its a barrier to entry for Buzz as you cannot use Buzz without Gmail potentially limiting the user base.
It’s early days
Buzz has only been around for a few weeks and as such the “general public” seem to be largely unaware, in fact not only the general public but it seems a lot of people that use twitter and facebook and don’t use Gmail are blissfully unaware. This became starkly evident when chatting to a blogger friend with a large following on twitter and Facebook (@afrofilmviewer), but had never heard of buzz. I assume that this will be a formality and as time moves people will drift towards Buzz potentially for the exact same reason that the general public doesn’t know about it. Gmail.
Google are constantly changing and tweaking Buzz based on user suggestions so even if take up in your area is a little slow, it is definitely worthwhile to start using it now and the a head start on the bakery down the road.
- How to Link Google Buzz to Twitter and Facebook
- Flickr Integration – Google Buzz and Microsoft Bing Streetside
- Why you need Social Media Marketing for Business
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