google Google s social side hopes

Document Sample
google Google s social side hopes Powered By Docstoc
					Google's social side hopes to catch some
The company wants to take what it does best--organizing Web content by relevancy--and
apply it to social media, perhaps the most disorganized segment of the Web. Google Buzz
is its most ambitious attempt to do just that, marrying the Gmail Web interface with
status updates and media-sharing technology in an attempt to convince the social media
addicts of the world to spend more time on Google's sites than on competitors like
Facebook or Twitter; generating valuable data in the process.

"It has become a core belief of ours that organizing the social information on the Web is
a Google-scale problem," said Todd Jackson, Gmail product manager, demonstrating
Google Buzz at the company's headquarters a day before Tuesday's event. An astounding
amount of social-media content is produced every day, across Facebook, Twitter, Flickr,
YouTube, and personal blogs, and Google's faith that it could one day index and organize
the entire Internet has been shaken by this explosion in Web content.

Somebody has to try, according to Google engineers. "A lot of the world's information is
what's happening with my friends," said Bradley Horowitz, vice president of product
management at the company. "We can't achieve (Google's) mission unless we solve these
parts of that problem."

However, they see not only an opportunity to unify the social Web and make things easier
for users, but a chance to erode Facebook's advantage in the reams of user data it has
amassed behind closed walls that Google--and Google's advertisers--can't see. The only
way they'll be able to do that is by creating a system that is as compelling and easy to use
as Facebook.

Google is attempting to do this by taking Gmail, one of its more popular products, and
integrating Buzz directly into the Gmail interface. Users can link their Twitter, Flickr,
Picasa, and Google Reader accounts to their Buzz streams to see information produced
by friends on those networks, as well as updates posted directly to the Buzz stream

Google thinks it can build a competitive advantage in social media by focusing on
relevancy and ranking within a social network. For example, Buzz users will be able to
see all the content produced by those who they are following, but they'll also be able to
see content produced by people they aren't following if their friends "liked" or
commented on that content.

They'll also be able to train that algorithm by clicking "Not interested" on these
"recommended" status updates if they don't wish to see that particular type of update
again. Google thinks users might see an advantage if they can lower the ranking of oft-
repeated types of content--such as the what-I-had-for-breakfast update--without having
to banish that friend's content from their feed.

The idea is to take the thinking behind core Google concepts such as PageRank and
quality score and apply it to social media, and Buzz is an early example of that process at
Google, Jackson said. Expect to see further updates, as Buzz fits right into Google's
classic strategy of launching a product as soon as possible and making constant updates.

Getting        Buzz           when          you're        on         the        move
And on the mobile side of the world, where social media can be combined with location,
Google wants to allow phone users to see a wealth of data about what's happening
around them and get in on the location-aware services bandwagon.

Google Buzz for Mobile will essentially be a competitor to services like Foursquare and
Gowalla, allowing users to "check in" by updating their Buzz status with a Google Maps
link to their location. You'll be able to do this right from Google's mobile home page, and
Google is also releasing a Web application for Google Buzz that will work on iPhones
and Android phones.

And within Google Maps for Mobile, the company's improved mapping application, users
will be able to see public Buzz content posted from mobile phones around their location,
said Vic Gundotra, vice president of engineering at Google. That includes quick reviews
of restaurants in the area, updates on traffic snarls further along the route, or anything
else imaginable.

For those who haven't drunk from the Foursquare pitcher just yet, bear in mind that the
location part of a Buzz status update is opt-in: you'll have to manually declare your
location, and can post Buzz updates without having to share your exact whereabouts.

This brings up a key factor in how Google is pitching Buzz. In order to attract users, it
has to offer enough privacy safeguards to allow them to live their online lives in a semi-
private fashion. But it also wants to open up that data to the wider Web, where it can be
analyzed and dissected to glean information about trends that advertisers demand.

One of the issues with a service like Facebook is that so much of its content is walled-off
from search engines and the general public. That's nice for users, but bad for search
engines and marketers, and so Facebook has gently tried to encourage its users to open
up their profiles.

Buzz users can choose to make a new post public or private before publishing. Public
messages are distributed to one's followers, but they are also posted to one's Google
Profile, where they can be searched, indexed, and viewed by anyone. Private Buzz
messages can be sent to an unlimited number of subgroups within one's follower list,
separating work contacts from drinking buddies, family and groups of friends that don't
travel in the same circles. That would appear to give enough cover to those who want to
make their online lives semi-public, but also placate Google and its advertisers' hunger
for data on how people are spending their time both online and offline.

Buzz will take some time to gather the momentum that other social media sites have
enjoyed. For example, one key omission is the inability to update those external service
from within the Buzz stream: you can't update your Twitter feed with your status with a
Buzz post, even though you can see what your Twitter contacts are doing in Buzz.

Google said it was working on that feature, but declined to say why it decided to leave
that out at launch. Presumably, the company would prefer to build a network within Buzz
that keeps those updates in house, at least at first. But those who have already
established themselves as frequent Twitter users might not see a lot of value in a service
that doesn't allow them to post to Twitter.

2010 is an important year for Google's social media strategy. The company has hired
several veterans of the social Web to build out a new team, and executives promised a lot
more to come with services like Buzz over the course of the year to erase the memories of
Google as a social-media also-ran.

The problem, however, will be the increasing backlash Google is seeing from the general
public over how much data the company already controls on their online habits. Will they
want to take it a step further? If not, Google's social skills will have taken another hit.

Posted by : sanjiv pahari

Want more??

Shared By:
Tags: tech, news