Google unveiled its new social networking product, Google Buzz, during the second week of February. This marks Google’s most direct challenge to social networking sites that have proven to be important tools for communications and multimedia sharing amongst its users.
For political communications, Facebook and then later Twitter, have become important tools in both national and local electoral politics. These social media sites allow for deeper engagement between campaigns and their supporters, enables increasingly scaled multi-way conversations and are excellent organizing tools.
How will Google Buzz fit in to this mix of social media sites already running and how will Buzz be integrated into political communications?
The buzz about Buzz going around blogosphere is now centered around the lack of sensitivity to Google and Gmail users’ privacy concerns. Google may have made a huge mistake when it automatically brought users into one’s Buzz network without their permission. Internet privacy advocates are having a field day with this. But as with most everything Google, the company is listening and trying to correct its errors.
As a social network, I see the biggest advantage of Google Buzz being its integration into other Google software. For example, in the last year, I have gotten away from my activity on Facebook and have moved much more heavily into email. It’s not so much a conscious decision on my part, but simply a reaction to the amount of emails I receive daily necessitates my attention get paid to my inbox. Therefore, having the Buzz tab next to my Gmail inbox is highly convenient. Not to mention, Buzz syncs up with YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Google Reader, Google Chat, etc. very seamlessly. On top of that, Buzz seems to be a pretty clean and easy designed app.
Google Buzz’s downside may be that it’s too connected to one’s email. I think many Facebook users like the idea of having a personal network on Facebook unconnected to their email. I can understand that.
As a political tool, we shall see how Google Buzz gets used and if campaigns will utilize it in the 2010 cycle. I think it will provide a new way to bring in a lot of engagement to a campaign and communicate in a new and possibly easier fashion. As someone who works on campaigns, the thought of having email and social networking contained in one interface is very attractive. In fact, I would venture to say at the moment that Google Buzz stands to assist campaigns to communicate with key activists and volunteers in a deeper and more personal way.
For example, beyond non-Google web apps, I see a lot of value in being able to have Google Docs and Google Calendar be a part of Google Buzz and at the fingertips of campaigns and volunteers in a single medium. That could prove very valuable. I, for one, would be willing to give it a try. I believe it will aid in multi-way communication better than Facebook at this point as Facebook has become another broadcasting tool for campaigns. If the privacy issue can be resolved and users of Google Buzz can have better control of who is able to tap into a given network, Buzz can be a very useful tool.