Another day, another announcement from Google. Seriously, does a week go by when the search giant doesn’t unleash something new on the world?

This time it’s Google Buzz that’s grabbed the limelight. This is a social networking tool that works from within Google Mail, the company’s free email service. Think of it as a kind of Facebook / Twitter combination that you access from within your email.

How Google Buzz works

Google Buzz lets you post updates containing text, images, videos and links – basically, anything you like. These can be seen by your friends. Similarly, you’ll start to see updates from your friends appearing right in your inbox.

There’s a video up on YouTube which does an excellent job of explaining how it all works, so take a look there for more details.

Buzz promises a lot of flexibility and can automatically pull in updates from other networks, like Twitter and Flickr (though not yet Facebook), so you don’t have to check them all separately. With versions available for several types of mobile phone, Buzz seems to put more of an emphasis on location than other services.

Because Buzz is built into Google Mail, there’s nothing to set up. It uses your existing contacts to create a network of your friends – unlike, say, Facebook, where you have to manually add your mates.

If you use Google Mail, watch for a Buzz option appearing on the left. Or if you’re the impatient sort, do what we did and go to to get access to the service straight away.

Will Buzz succeed?

There’s no guarantee that Buzz will be a success. Any new service going up against Facebook is going to have its work cut out – even if it has been developed by a true internet giant. Then there are all the other social networks vying for attention. (No, we haven’t heard of half of them either.)

However, regardless of whether it succeeds or not, it certainly serves to underline the importance of the “social web”. People are spending more and more of their time online using services like Buzz, Twitter and Facebook – and that means if you run your own website, you really ought to be thinking about how you can make use of them to build an audience for your own stuff.

If you don’t, it’s a missed opportunity. People use social networks to share links and ask for product or service recommendations all the time. And it makes sense – which would you trust more: a link found through searching on Google, or a link sent to you by someone in a trusted network of contacts? Exactly.

There are a few basic ways you can start to attract visitors from social networks:

  • Create great, unique, exciting content. This is what people come to see on your website, so without interesting stuff there, you won’t be able to build a buzz about your site online. To get started, see our list of link bait for inspiration and read this information about what makes great content.
  • Get on social networks yourself. The best way to understand how these things work is to use them. Your website should have a Twitter feed and Facebook page. Plus, presumably, a presence on Google Buzz. Get more help by reading these social media guides – although aimed at businesses, the advice is good for any website.
  • Make it easy for people to spread the word. You might have spotted the Share and Enjoy links at the bottom of posts on this blog. They let social network users post links to our stuff by clicking a button. If your site runs WordPress (like this blog) you can do this with an extension like Sociable.

What do you think of Google Buzz? Have you had big successes using social networks to get people to visit your website? Leave a comment and let us know.

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6 Responses

  • Mark

    I am surprised how many companies, including yours, seem to support this type of network? Especially in the manner it has been released. Nothing here about the UK Data Protection Act 1998, nothing here about the way Google assume you want to use it, nothing about the exploitation of existing users of the simple email address. I’m sorry, but I see it as a downside the fact your contacts are automatically added as friends rather than Facebook where you have to specifically add and manage them. Finally, there should have been a registration form to join rather than the defacto integration of ‘Buzz’. Fortunately I have been able to remove it from my Google mail services but the method by which you can do this is not that transparent either.
    Another example of unethical marketing practice and potential exploitation of the more niaive users on the Internet along with their data.

    February 17, 2010 at 5:06 pm
  • Guy Hoogewerf

    Mark you rather wonderfully leave you message here, yet complain about privacy! I think the way Buzz was launched was both sensible and clever, all this secrecy, what do people have to hide. I read a lovely anecdote about Spies being found out and love affairs being exposed. Come on people if you’re going to do something illicit get off the Internet.

    Buzz is a great idea – it will be ruined by people and their silly privacy ideas.

    February 17, 2010 at 9:58 pm
  • Stewart

    You neglect to mention that this is actually Googles second attempt at jumping on the social networking bandwagon. Their first attempt was Orkut which failed miserably everywhere except India and Brazil.

    I agree with a lot of Mark’s comments.

    February 18, 2010 at 12:11 pm
  • John L

    I too am very unhappy how it was forced upon us. Luckily in the UK not many people use Googlemail (I personally know none other than myself and my address book has nearly 300 contacts)so it didn’t cause me any problems. I have disabled it and it has ensured that I will never give Google more information that it needs as it is proving to be untrustworthy. If you have a Google profile then you still have a problem as shutting down Buzz in Googlemail doesn’t stop it.
    This is a very bad idea that has been extremely badly handled and I have yet to see a positive post about it. You could say it is a public relations nightmare and I am concerned it is not within the UK law on privacy either. If it isn’t I would like to see a prosecution as these type of companies need to be reigned in. Just goes to show that for all the good stuff that Google comes out with they will not miss the first opportunity to shaft their customers.

    February 18, 2010 at 11:39 pm
  • David

    I’ve not seen it yet but if Mark is right, I’m on it already.

    Some of the networking sites are not particularly well written, so there is plenty of scope to improve. I’ve tried a good selection of the ones noted in Wikipedia. But the best ones don’t necessarily win. I rather like Hi5, which lets you slip in html, is easy to customise and edit and has some other nice features but it’s just not very popular. Linkedin is more useful than Facebook, has lots of good groups and takes up less time than Facebook. Facebook is a time-muncher.

    Once you have a Google account, it seems to be par for the course that you are signed up for everything else they have to offer. It comes with the territory.

    Mark is right about the privacy issue. The whole 1984 thing has come to pass. As an individual it’s hard to fight it, especially if you are in the business of marketing that which you do. These social networking sites must really be considered public forums, so be savy on them. And if you want to harness the magic of new media for your family and friends, register a private blog, so that you have an outlet for your friends and family pics and the thoughts you would share with your nearest but not the World.

    February 19, 2010 at 1:34 am
  • Annette

    I totally agree with Mark’s comments. I dont like the fact Buzz has been forced on into my gmail account the same as I dont like MSN Live and seeing what all the buddies are doing. If you go deep enuf you can unfortunately even see some of the comments left amongst buddies which I think is terrible and I’m sure many are not aware of this. Too much information is out there on the net about people and privacy is becoming a forgotten word.
    Mark – can you tell me how to remove Buzz please

    February 20, 2010 at 2:14 am