What’s Google Buzz & Why Should You Use It?

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See this post in its original home at the official Girls in Tech blog

Since its launch in February, Google Buzz has dominated headlines from the blogosphere to the twittersphere, and every social media sphere in between. From people decrying it as yet another nail in the coffin of personal privacy to people applauding it as a bold step forward for communication and collaboration, Buzz has certainly lived up to its name – at least in terms of all the attention its gotten in the past month.

So what is Buzz? Well, according to Google itself “Google Buzz lets you share updates, photos, links, and pretty much anything else you’d like with your Gmail contacts; it’s an easy way to follow your friends, too. When you click Buzz in your Gmail account, you’ll see the stream of posts from people you’re following, and a box for you to post your updates.” So basically, Buzz is a way for you to post items that are shared with your Gmail contacts, and people who follow you on the service. Sort of like a Facebook status update for your Gmail.

Of course, like any good web product, there’s a lot more to it than just the elevator pitch. Buzz is already proving to be a valuable tool for soliciting feedback on a project, gathering opinions on a popular topic and finding targeted information that’s relevant to you. Which, of course, makes it a social media marketer’s wet dream, and has advertisers salivating over the possibility that Google may now have yet another place to distribute its patented brand of extremely targeted ads.

But, if you’re not looking to solicit feedback from your friends or sell something to your followers, why should you use Buzz? Well, the answer lies in that whole targeted information thing. That’s right, Buzz is yet another stream of information you can tap into to find out what’s trending and what your friends are talking about. But, because it maps back to your Gmail contacts, the theory is that it’s even more targeted than Twitter, more focused than Facebook and more interesting than random RSS feeds. The idea is that if you’re subscribing to people you already communicate with regularly via email, you will be more interested in what those people have to say than what Followed #4,238 on Twitter is talking about. And, of course, there are all those nifty Google algorithms to help really steer your Buzz stream.

I’ve been using it for a few weeks now, and I have to say my feelings are mixed. Mostly because I haven’t yet been able to really slot Buzz into my daily social media habits. Between Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader, Reddit, Delicious, Stumble and the occasional email update from my mom, I’m pretty well situated when it comes to keeping abreast of the news and information I care about. So far, Buzz hasn’t yet evolved from a fun distraction into a daily information addiction the way those other services have. That said, now that there’s a Buzz iPhone app, I might finally be able to find a way to fit that fun new distraction into my daily routine. If only so I can make more “I just got so buzzed” puns on Twitter.

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