Statistics on microblogging are staggering. Facebook currently has 400 million users worldwide, many who update their statuses multiple times per day. Twitter announced on February 22nd that the site hit 50 million tweets per day, an exponential increase from approximately 50,000 per day in 2007. Google released Buzz, on February 9th. In only two days, it surpassed 9 million posts and comments, averaging around 160,000 buzzes per hour.
Who is Microblogging?
Microbloggers can be segmented into three categories:
Corporations use microblogging to connect with current and potential customers. Companies’ microblogs include information on products and services. Additionally, brands utilize microblogging to promote news, as well as offer discounts and coupons.
Professionals: Individuals Microblogging for Professional Reasons
Another subset of the microblogging population is individuals who microblog for professional reasons. This group includes celebrities, independent consultants, bloggers, coaches and other individuals who utilize microblogging to promote professional services or enhance their personal brand. Professionals microblog to engage fans or potential clients and connect with colleagues. They frequently post links to their website or blog, not only to increase traffic but also improve their search engine ranking.
Casual Users: Individuals Microblogging for Personal Reasons
Individuals who microblog for personal reasons (“casual users”) use microblogging tools to connect with friends and family, and post links to articles they find interesting. Often, casual users are passive users. They use microblogging sites to gain up-to-date information on the lives of friends and family, as well as brands and colleagues, as opposed to posting information.
The Newcomer: Google Buzz
Buzz is the newest entrant to the microblogging space. Launched by Google, Buzz connects to Google’s email client, Gmail. Buzz has a number of strengths and unusual features that set it apart from other microblogging services. The integration with Gmail provided Buzz with an existing user base of millions of users who do not have to create a new username or password in order to participate. Also, users no longer have to leave their email inbox in order to share information with contacts. Buzz enables users to respond to others’ microblogs with their commenting feature. Additionally, with Buzz, users can select their privacy preferences, something other services, such as Twitter, lack. Buzz has no character limits and also allows users to integrate photos and attachments in a streamlined and simple way.
The Incumbent: Twitter
However, Twitter’s simplicity, which has worked well in the past, may ultimately be its biggest weakness. The 140 character limit can be cumbersome. Although users can post pictures on Twitter, they need a third-party application, such as TwitPic, to do so. Also, users cannot see responses to conversations- they can only view one user’s microblogs at one time.
Where Does Buzz Add Value?
Google Buzz’s strengths, particularly when compared to Twitter, make Buzz an ideal product for professionals looking to microblog. On Buzz, professionals who want to enhance their personal brand can post links as well as photos and videos, enabling them to post more varied types of information than on Twitter. Additionally, professionals who want engage with their fans/audience can provide a more interactive experience on Buzz via the commenting feature, which not only allows professionals to interact with their audience but also enables fans to interact with one another. Also, presumably, since Buzz is a Google product, microblogging with Buzz could increase search engine rankings as well as, or even better than Twitter or other competitors. I personally would love to see a Buzz application for Blogger, and start following TV how-to personalities on Buzz. I could find a lot of added value in hearing Martha Stewart's audience suggesting recipes, not just Martha herself. And that is one area where Buzz has the potential to outshine Twitter and the others. Let's just hope that the class action lawsuits against Buzz stop coming.