I've had the chance to play around with Google Buzz over the last few days. Forget about all the marketing talk by Google, Buzz is essentially FriendFeed/Twitter integrated into GMail. Which to me is a big plus because I use Gmail everyday anyway.
Buzz also integrates with Twitter well and allows you to post updates to both, but you can't follow replies to both (as yet). Twitter fans will no doubt love Buzz. I did my best to like Twitter and tried to use it as I know it's a good way to market websites. Though I find it time consuming and a bit of a pain in the ass to be honest.
When you work online you need to make sure you manage your time wisely as it's incredibly easy to skive off and do other things. And for me, Twitter and Buzz both come into the skiving off category. Marketers are always telling you that Twitter is a great way to build relationships online. I personally prefer email. Seriously, how are you supposed to develop a relationship with someone who has thousands of followers. If you want to partner up with them on a new project then why not drop them an email and have a chat via msn messenger or skype?
I must admit I do skive off semi frequently on FaceBook but everyone I know there I know in real life.
Already I've noticed the same kind of people complaining on Buzz. I saw several people complain yesterday because others were not telling the world who they were via their Buzz profile, which means that they don't know whether they should follow them or not. I'm of the opinion that if you don't know them, then don't bloody follow them!! One of the problems of Twitter/Buzz is the more people you follow, the more difficult it is to build any sort of relationship. You are in essence just shouting into the wind and hoping that someone shouts back. If everyone would keep the number of people they follow to under 100 it would work, but they don't, which means when you do reply to someone it will likely be lost in one of a thousand replies back to them.
For these people it's all about the numbers i.e. the number of people following them. And they're right; because in order to market via social networking sites like Twitter and Buzz you need to have a lot of followers, and the easiest way to do that is to follow someone else and hope that they reciprocate.
So to summarise, Google Buzz seems pretty good and I am a big fan of them integrating it with the Gmail interface. However, my feelings towards using these kind of sites remain the same.
I do understand the benefits of using these networking sites for business (and that's all I would be using it for because I keep in touch with real life friends via Facebook), but for me the cons greatly outweigh the pros. In order to get anything back you need to spend a lot of time networking and getting yourself known, time I would rather spend writing good articles, developing my sites and contacting people about potential projects and partnerships directly via email or messenger.
There's only so many hours in the day, and you learn to appreciate that after working online for several years. Fair play to those who can manage their workload and spend hours every week posting on these sites, but I find it incredibly difficult to do both. And if I have anything relevant to say, I prefer to put it into an article.
I may occasionally leave a message on Buzz though; there's certainly more chance of me posting there than Twitter seeing as it's built right into Gmail. Bah humbug!!!
p.s. please don't reply saying I don't understand Twitter. I used to run a Twitter blog and read dozens of ebooks on the subject. I've also wrote lots of articles on promoting yourself via Twitter and tried out lots of free and paid services too. My issues are not with Twitter itself, it's more to do with the time it takes to get anything back from it. Opportunity cost rules all.