Earlier this week, Gmail users opened their account to found a brand new social networking feature thrust upon them by Google. It’s called Google Buzz, and it has everyone talking.
Google Buzz is a social media platform that’s not quite Facebook and not quite Twitter. It combines the features of both sites with Google’s search and email functionality. Here’s how the Official Google Blog describes it:
Google Buzz is a new way to start conversations about the things you find interesting. It’s built right into Gmail, so you don’t have to peck out an entirely new set of friends from scratch — it just works. If you think about it, there’s always been a big social network underlying Gmail. Buzz brings this network to the surface by automatically setting you up to follow the people you email and chat with the most.
One of the biggest drawbacks of Buzz for businesses is that it’s connected with Gmail. To create an account just for your business, you’re adding another email box to check on a daily basis. But it could work if you use your personal account as a networking tool to build your personal brand or if you already have a business Gmail account.
The Google Blog also mentions plans to roll out a version of Buzz for businesses and schools using Google Apps in the future. It says there will be added features for sharing within organizations.
The release caused a stir among critics over the fact that users were unknowingly exposing to the public who they email the most through Gmail. Google responded to this immediately and made the opt-out bolder and larger so users were less likely to miss it.
Overall, this social networking platform is too new to say how popular it will become. But it does include some interesting features that only Google could provide. You can import your information from other sites you use including Twitter, Picasa, Flickr and Google Reader to more easily share items from those accounts, and all of your updates are sent to your Gmail inbox, where you can also respond by replying.