Google Buzz: Why Gmail Puts It Into The Game

What's the Buzz? It's Google's effort to weld social networking and content sharing onto its Gmail email service. It also poses the latest challenge for marketers to stay relevant and visible in the inbox.


Buzz, which Google is rolling out now to Gmail inboxes, incorporates status updates and shared content such as photos, video and links from people on the user's contact list into the inbox.

Buzz: Game-Changer or the Next Wave?

In its first few days, Buzz has generated plenty of, well, buzz, ranging from game-changer predictions to jaded shrugs.

It won't change the email game immediately, the way Gmail itself did since its 2004 launch. But it could have Gmail-like growth, grabbing market share slowly and surely, giving it a huge base of regular users in three to four years. (Gmail email addresses now likely account for about 10% to 15% of a typical B-to-C list and up to 25% for newer lists.)

Buzz likely has greater adoption potential than other Google initiatives such as Wave, which generated a lot of initial buzz but limited adoption. Among Buzz's plusses:




  • It leverages existing features, including your Gmail contact list and inbox. Buzz auto-follows your closest contacts to give you an immediate follow list and delivers fresh content alerts to your message inbox.
  • Users can toggle links to move between the message and Buzz content lists.
  • Buzz connects other Google properties, such as Picasa, Google Reader and YouTube, to the Google profiles of people you follow, and to your Twitter stream if you opt to connect. (No Facebook Connect function yet.)
  • Users don't have to learn a new protocol of interaction, because Buzz incorporates familiar features of other social-networking platforms: like/unlike, share via email, comment on other posts and "at" replies.
  • It aggressively filters content so that "less-valuable" posts ("me too" or "nite peeps" posts) get collapsed at the bottom of the viewing window, leaving more room for theoretically meatier posts.
  • Lastly, one of the more interesting aspects of Buzz is that many of your Gmail contacts are likely "true" friends and relatives, many of whom you may not be connected to in other networks.


Rising to the Challenge of Inboxes Gone Social

Although it's too early in the game to predict how Google Buzz will affect Gmail use, this broader encroachment of social conversations into the email stream is clearly the future, with the following implications for email marketers:


  • Email inbox interfaces are getting busier. Besides Gmail, email clients including Xobni and Outlook, and Webmail services such as Yahoo have expanded inbox functionality. Yahoo recently added inline chat, a beefed-up calendar and links to Flickr and PayPal. These functions are designed to integrate with and complement email, but they can also distract the user from reading email.


  • The inbox itself will be more crowded. Buzz will send alerts whenever friends post fresh content. If your recipient is an exceptionally busy social networker, these alerts will push your email-marketing messages farther away from the fresh-content sweet spot.

How to respond to the Buzz factor:

1. Work harder to get your sending email address added to recipients' contact lists or address books.

2. Brand your "from" and subject lines. This helps your messages stand out from the onslaught of Buzz message alerts.

3. One-to-one messaging must replace one-to-many broadcasts. Personalization that reflects preferences and buying history, triggered emails and value-added transactional emails will compete better with Buzz's highly relevant message alerts.

Wrapping Up

It's your turn now. Do you think Buzz is more likely to gain traction than Wave because it leverages an existing inbox, contact list and Google services that millions of consumers already know about?

Until next time, take it up a notch!

6 comments about "Google Buzz: Why Gmail Puts It Into The Game ".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. david Baker from RedPill, February 11, 2010 at 3:40 p.m.

    Nice review Loren.. YES, I think they'll get alot more traction... as well as what MS is planning in future releases, it should be an interesting 2010 at the consumer inbox level.

  2. Neil Capel from Sailthru, February 11, 2010 at 4:15 p.m.

    Very thoughtful review. As to Paula's privacy concerns, while there may be significant issues to address, Google has a much better track record in that regard than Facebook. Yet users are intrusting FB with more and more sensitive info all the time. Building Buzz's platform from the inbox surely gives in leverage to build.

  3. Chad White from Litmus, February 11, 2010 at 4:31 p.m.

    After Facebook's privacy-reset stunt last year, I trust them with my personal information a lot less than Google.

  4. Loren McDonald from IBM Marketing Cloud, February 11, 2010 at 6:57 p.m.

    All - Great comments on the privacy angle. I've seen a number of negative comments on that angle on various blogs, etc. As a few of you implied, I think we'll see Google adjust settings farily quickly as the feedback comes in.

    The real question, I think, is can Google create enough value with Buzz - aggregation, minimizing the noise, location-based presence, etc - that people are willing to forgo the other aggregators and tools they use. The inability to post to both Twitter and Facebook are huge disadvantages at this point.

  5. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, February 11, 2010 at 8:51 p.m.

    Why does anyone think I or anyone else does or should trust FB more than Google? I distrust both as much as the other or others concerning privacy.

  6. Loren McDonald from IBM Marketing Cloud, February 11, 2010 at 10:28 p.m.

    A few updates:
    After only less than two days of being live, Buzz has already surpassed 9 million posts -

    And while there are still plenty of Buzz detractors - at least one social media pundit is farily bullish on Buzz's upside -

Next story loading loading..