By Monique Martin
With its recent rollout of Buzz, Internet behemoth Google is going head-to-head with social networking giant Twitter. As these two Web giants face off, small business owners are left wondering if it’s time to stop tweeting and start buzzing.
More than anyone else, Google is well positioned to take on Twitter. With Buzz’s integration into their popular Gmail service, Google has a reported 100 million plus users at their fingertips. That number already trumps Twitter’s supposed 75 million users. Twitter’s growth rate has slowed recently, leaving the door open for someone like Google. But, will Google replace Twitter or just join the social media fray?
While there’s some integration with Twitter, for example, you can siphon your tweets into Buzz, it’s clear that Google wants to be the top dog. The integration is one-way only. You can’t filter your buzzes into Twitter. And, most telling of all, Buzz’s tagline, “Go beyond status messages” is a direct shot at Twitter’s main functionality.
There are some nice features in Google’s Buzz that might make it a little more appealing to some users. You aren’t limited to Twitter’s 140 characters, so conversations can have more depth. You can seamlessly import images from Picasa and Flickr. And, because it’s integrated within Gmail, that’s one less site you have to visit.
While Google does seem to have the Midas touch, they aren’t without their share of failures. Orkut anyone? Launched in 2004, the social networking site never caught on in the US and Europe and is considered one of Google’s biggest flops. But, have they learned valuable lessons from the Orkut debacle that will help Buzz succeed? Only time will tell.
For the user, social media isn’t about any one site. It’s about creating synergy between them. You can use one to build the other and funnel that traffic to your own Web site. So, whether Google’s Buzz supplants Twitter as the new darling of the Internet won’t matter to the savvy business owner. They’ll be well established on both and waiting for the next the one to arrive.
Monique Martin served as Chief Operating Officer for a successful online insurance marketing firm for five years.