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Bzzzzzzz: Google Buzz Enters the Social Networking Scene

When Google Buzz showed up in my inbox, I was intrigued yet unsure. After all of the hoopla about Google Wave, I have to admit I never became a convert. Maybe because the invitations were scarce and so no one I wanted to Wave with was available to Wave with me, maybe because among my friends and family I’m an early adopter, so even if invitations weren’t scarce, no one in my inner circle would have Waved with me anyway. Beyond that, the lack of integration with my Gmail inbox was a killer. Another inbox for me to check….it never made it into my routine. I checked it this week, after weeks of inactivity, to find a message from a friend from…weeks ago.#Fail

Google Buzz, on the other hand, is integrated with my Gmail inbox, and in the last two days I’ve already used it more than I’ve ever used Google Wave. So far, I’ve enjoyed photos of a friend’s kid in Chicago, caught some local news – President Barack Obama to deliver the University Michigan commencement address, laughed at some goofy blogs and goofy statements from friends, and I encountered a book that I’ve added to my list of reserved items at the local library (Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto).

Google Profile ScreenshotLooking at my Buzz stream on my Google profile, you will notice that it looks an awful lot like Facebook. Same mixture of photos and comments on photos and status updates and comments on status updates. And, since (as yet) there are no Mafia Wars, no Farmville, and no applications to help me figure out what kind of cheese am or what kind of cheese you think I am, it’s actually much more pleasant to dip into.

Yet, until close friends and family are complete Gmail-geeks like I am, I’ll still need Facebook to connect with close friends and family. And, while I am very excited about these tools for connecting with people I already know, I remain convinced that the most open social networking tools, like Twitter, remain the best for businesses to find new customers. Facebook is a walled garden, though becoming less so with its recent changes to its privacy settings making more content public. Google Buzz seems at least semi-walled. Right now I’ve got my Buzz kind of locked down until I decide how it all works.

I’m still exploring Buzz, but so far it seems exceptionally personal and less business-y. Hubspot has provided these recommendations on getting started with Google Buzz for your business. Take a look, let me know what you see, and together we’ll see how it develops.

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