Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on February 11th, 2010

The Buzz on Google Buzz

As more and more communication occurs online, the social web has erupted as a place to speak your mind, keep up with old friends, and stay connected with the entire world, all in real-time. But in today’s world of status updates, retweets, and message streams, it is difficult to distinguish the relevancy from all the buzz, much less to stay engaged in significant conversations.

On Tuesday, Google announced their newest innovation for the social web: Google Buzz. In an attempt to organize all your social information on the web into one place, Google Buzz is built right into Gmail as a new way to start conversations with your current friends – and you don’t have to start your “friend-stable” from scratch. You are automatically set up to “follow” the people you email often and Buzz comes equipped with a more enhanced sharing experience via photos, videos and links. More in-depth rambling after the jump.

Social Status Stream

In the past, Google has failed to launch what they would deem a “successful” social web product to the U.S. market. They tried jumping feet first into the stream, but the Waves they were trying to create didn’t quite reach the shore. Buzz takes on a stream of social webbery much like Twitter and Facebook, but will it be successful for Google?

We are finding there are but a few networks that reach the highest status in today’s social stream. Google wants every lucrative tributary to the online river of revenue and they are fighting like a drowning cat to snag some of the social stream. The only hope that Google has to become even the least bit prominent for social streaming is if they can integrate with the other leaders.


Online social watchdogs like Mashable feel that Buzz’s success is heavily dependent upon its ability to integrate with Twitter and Facebook. When Google pulled back the curtain on Buzz Tuesday, it announced an app that integrates Twitter updates with your Buzz followers. But upon launch, there will be no integration with Facebook at all.

I understand if this irritates you. Frustrates and angers you, even. Heck, I felt like snapping a #2 pencil with my thumb and knocking everything off my desk, but then I realized that my pants were on the ground. I kid. Before you throw a tantrum that lands you on YouTube, let’s clarify the relationships between Buzz and the big boys: Twitter and Facebook.


Yay! – When you tweet via Twitter, Google Buzz imports that tweet and sends it to your Buzz followers, along with the rest of your Buzz updates. There are no secret passageways to crawl down or fiery hoops to jump through, Twitter is officially supported by Google Buzz. (Buzz also supports Flickr, Picasa, Blogger, and YouTube)

Nay! – However, the reverse is not true – you cannot tweet from Buzz to Twitter, which makes me scratch my a head a bit more than usual. Buzz also doesn’t aggregate tweets from your followers, much like Tweetdeck does, unless you happen to be following them in Buzz as well. To reach all of your friends across both networks, you will still need to have both open.


Yay! – This headline sounds like a shot your college freshman just made up.

Nay! – There is nothing to get excited about in this section. Buzz doesn’t integrate with Facebook at all. No status updates, no friend feed updates, not even at Facebook Connect integration.

With more than 400 million users, Facebook is the big fish in the social stream. Twitter can only brag about 18 million or so. Google is attempting to challenge Facebook, with only 36 million users as of last year.

Social Stand-Off

With Facebook working on a webmail service of its own, nicknamed Project Titan, users will have an email with addresses ending in This will make Facebook skyrocket past Gmail overnight as the largest webmail provider.

What we are witnessing is an online stand-off in the middle of the social stream. Who will prevail as this century’s leading online communications provider? If Google Buzz shoots first and hits, and is able to cherrypick dominant chunks of the social networking market, Facebook may not be able to match them. But if Facebook launches its webmail service to thunderous applause, this could just be the beginning.

In the End

If either Google Buzz or Facebook’s Project Titan don’t make a huge splash, there may be no foreseeable end to their battle.

As it stands right now, Facebook has such a dominant hold over the social web, it would take a Festivus miracle to convince enough people to migrate to another service. If Buzz was able to integrate Facebook with Gmail, there may be some willing souls. Until then, my marbles are with Facebook.

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