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					    How Google’s
 Social Networking
Tool Can Make Your
Online Business Hum

               By Joel Comm,
       New York Times Bestselling Author of
    Twitter Power: How to Dominate Your Market
               One Tweet at a Time

           www.JoelComm.com
Introduction.................................................................3
    What’s The Buzz ..............................................................4


1. Getting Started – Building Buzz ............7
    1.1 Building Your Follower List .......................................8
    1.2 Building Your Elite Follower Group ...........................9
    1.3 The Google Profile Page — Your Buzz Hub ............12
    1.4 Defining Privacy Settings ........................................15




2. Choosing Your Content
   Writing Posts that Buzz ............................19
    2.1 Feeding In Ready-Made Content ............................22
    2.2 Creating Content Just For Buzz ..............................24
    2.3 From Engagement To Conversions .........................27




3. Buzz in Your
   Social Media Strategy................................29

Conclusion ...............................................................31




                                                                                 2
Introduction
Google messed up. It happens to all of us and it can happen to
giant companies too. When Google released Buzz on February
9, 2010, the company had done the testing. Some 20,000 Goog-
le employees had been playing with an early version of Buzz
called “Taco Town” for some time. They’d been building lists of
followers, sharing content and doing all of the things that people
usually do on social networking sites.

But Google’s employees aren’t like the rest of us. They all work
for the same company. They have an understanding of social
networking and technology, and — most importantly — they
aren’t the type of people who stalk strangers and threaten ex-
partners. Those kinds of people don’t make it through Google’s
stringent recruitment interviews.

So when the company decided to skip its usual process of test-
ing new products — passing them through the Trusted Tester
program, a network of family and friends of Google employees
— it made a big mistake.

The settings that Buzz included as a default in the program’s ini-
tial release meant that it arrived in people’s mailboxes turned on.
Worse, the program assessed the user’s contact list, automati-
cally added the people the user most frequently emailed… and
let everyone see who everyone else was following.

It was a disaster. Abusive ex-husbands were able to see who
their ex-wives were now in touch with. Jealous wives could see
who their husbands had been emailing. Oppressive govern-
ments could review some of the contact books of dissidents
to see if there were any protestors they’d missed. Trust in Buzz
dropped like a large rock, and users started rushing towards the
“Off” button.

Then they discovered there wasn’t one.

Turning off Buzz by clicking the link at the bottom of the page
seemed to do the trick, removing Buzz from the mailbox, but in
fact old posts were still visible and other Buzz members could
still see who you were following and who was following you.
Initially, the only way to completely un-Buzz yourself was to go


                                                                   3
Featured                 through a long process of un-following individual followers and
                         closing the account manually. It was painstaking, difficult and
                         not at all clear.

                         The result was that commentators were already writing Buzz
                         off even as Google was apologizing for the service’s scrappy
                         launch. They said it had too many privacy issues, that people
                         find it too irritating, too intrusive and just too downright creepy.
                         When you’ve got Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, they argued,
                         you don’t need yet another social networking channel to deliver
                         the same content in yet another way.

                         They’re wrong.

                         All of the hullaballoo about Buzz’s privacy issues have over-
                         shadowed the real benefits the service can bring. It’s still early
                         and I’m still experimenting with it but I’m already beginning to
                         see the value that Buzz can bring for entrepreneurs, and where it
                         fits in the social media marketing toolbox.


                         What’s The Buzz?
                         To judge by the comments that have surrounded Buzz’s launch,
                         Google’s service is its own version of Twitter, the microblogging
                         site that set a new benchmark in social networking.

                         Start to use the service though, and keep an eye on the way it
                         actually works, and you’ll start to see some important differences.

                         The most obvious is the kind of people you’re following and who
                         are following you: initially, they’re people you already know. One
My App Creator           of the huge benefits of Twitter is that you can network with all
                         sorts of people and build valuable contacts with new clients, cus-
My App Creator is the
leading iPhone app       tomers, partners and anyone else very easily. Twitter both main-
creation system in       tains current relationships and constructs important new ones.
the world. Create a
personalized app in      You can do that too on Buzz but because Buzz is located in
just minutes and get     your mailbox, it can feel as though your mail contacts are more
your name or brand
in front of 50 Million
                         important than any other kind of person you might meet through
iPhone, iPod Touch       the site. That may change as follower lists grow and we be-
and iPad users!          come more used to following outside that first circle but when
                         you start using Buzz, you’re more likely to focus on people you
                         already know.


                                                                                            4
That makes networking on Buzz a very different experience to
networking on Twitter. Although Buzz can do both, in practice, I
think its main value will be in deepening relationships with val-
ued partners rather than in forming new ones.

And one reason for that is the nature of the conversations that
take place on Buzz.

When I first started using Twitter, I followed everyone who fol-
lowed me. It seemed the polite thing to do. Soon though, I
was following tens of thousands of people. It was hopeless. I
couldn’t keep track of everything that was flowing across my
Twitter page. I was seeing posts that I really didn’t care about
and was missing stuff that I did.

So I unfollowed everyone and started again.

Now I follow just a few hundred select people and find that I get
a lot more out of Twitter.

I doubt that I’ll follow that many people on Buzz.

That’s because while posts on Twitter are just 140 characters
— and therefore take just a second to read — posts on Buzz
can be as long as you want. And while conversations on Twit-
ter rarely go beyond two or three exchanges, on Buzz a post
becomes a thread. Everyone can see everyone else’s comments
and join the discussion, sending it in all sorts of different direc-
tions. Following that thread and taking part in it requires a much
greater investment of time.

A Twitter post is a public SMS message; a Buzz post is a point
of discussion.

That makes them very different. One of the biggest criticisms
of Twitter is that most of the posts are trivial. Pear Analytics, a
research firm, conducted a study in August 2009 that came to the
conclusion that some 40 percent of tweets are “pointless babble.”

The company used a definition of “pointless babble” that was
primarily designed to give it a good headline for its press release
but I don’t entirely disagree with it. I just don’t think that babble
is pointless. On the contrary, when you’re building a relationship,
small talk can have a big value. It creates a comfortable atmos-


                                                                    5
phere between people, puts all sides at ease and acts as the
foundation on which more serious conversations are built.

I’ve compared Twitter to a water-cooler because the conversa-
tions on Twitter are as light-hearted as the conversations you’ll
find in the staff break room. They’re often about what you’re
watching on television, what you did over the weekend or what
you thought about last night’s game. Sometimes, they’ll also
be about what you’re working on and what you’re planning to
release. But they’re rarely deep, meaningful conversations that
can get to the bottom of an issue. You can’t do that in 140 char-
acters, which is why you need to get off Twitter sometimes as
well. It’s why people put detailed information in a blog post, then
tweet the post.

Now though, they can also go on to Buzz and continue discuss-
ing the topic in depth there.

If Twitter is the place where conversations begin, Buzz could
well become the place where those conversations continue, in
depth, and among intimates.

To use a different analogy, Twitter is like a wedding reception
where you meet all sorts of people, say hello, receive introduc-
tions to new connections and rebuild connections with old
acquaintances. The conversations are fun but short. Buzz is the
dinner table where the conversation becomes more focused
among a closer group of people.

Buzz, I think, brings a new benefit to social networking. But it’s
not easy to use. It’s not intuitive and it’s not very user-friendly.
It feels like a site designed by geeks for geeks rather than a
service created for the average user. In this report, I’m going to
explain how to use Buzz.

I’ll begin by talking about how the site works. I’ll explain how
to get started, how to find people to follow, build your own elite
follower list, and create a Google profile — the little-known hub
around which your Buzz presence is built.

I’ll then discuss content. Buzz offers all sorts of different ways to
deliver content to followers. Some of those methods are auto-
mated and effort-free. Others will require a bit of thought and an
investment of time. I’ll explain the different kinds of content that


                                                                       6
                                you can post on Buzz, and — more importantly — the reaction
                                that those types of content are likely to produce.

                                Finally, I’ll put Buzz in context by discussing how I see the serv-
                                ice fitting into an online entrepreneur’s overall social networking
                                strategy.

                                Buzz is new. Google is still working on it, ironing out the prob-
                                lems the service had when it launched, paying attention to how
                                people are using it and looking for ways that it could be im-
                                proved. It’s likely to continue changing, perhaps in significant
                                ways, in its first year.

                                Users too are experimenting with Buzz, looking for what works
                                for them, and assessing which strategies bring the best results.
                                This isn’t meant to be the definitive guide to Buzz — it’s too
                                early for that — but it should get you started quickly and effi-
                                ciently, and get Buzz working for you.



                                1. Getting Started
                                – Building Buzz
Google now lets you opt in to
Buzz. That’s an improvement.




                                When Buzz launched, Google put it straight into users’ Gmail
                                accounts. That probably looked like a smart move. The tough-



                                                                                                    7
Featured                   est time for any social networking service is the period when it
                           first builds the society. Until the service has reached the tipping
                           point — until a potential user has enough friends already on the
                           site to make it worthwhile joining — people will stay away.

                           With around 150 million Gmail users automatically tuned in,
                           Buzz started with a built-in society.

                           Not surprisingly though, those users wanted to be asked before
                           they received the service, especially when they found that peo-
                           ple were already following them, that they were already following
                           other people — and even more worryingly, that everyone could
                           see who they were following.

                           So Google backtracked. Now Gmail users have to agree to use
                           the site, and those who don’t want it can skip past it on the way
                           to their inbox.

                           But to use Buzz, you’ll still need to have a Gmail account first.
                           If you don’t have one already, surf to www.Gmail.com and you’ll
                           be able to open an account for free.

                           Don’t worry if you’re happy with your current email provider.
                           You don’t have to use Gmail for anything other than Buzz if you
                           don’t want to, but you might want to import your contact book
                           by pressing Settings > Accounts and Import > Import mail and
                           contacts. That will make it easier to find the people you want to
                           follow later. Once you have a Gmail account, you’ll just need to
                           hit the big Buzz button when you log in.


                           1.1 Building Your Follower List
Secret Classroom
Twelve Internet
                           With Buzz turned on and a contact list on the site, your next
Millionaires were kid-     step will be to start following people. Google might not automat-
napped into a secret       ically give you people to follow any more but it does still suggest
classroom and forced       people you might want to follow. Twitter does that too when you
teach a group of new-      sign up and your response to Google’s suggestions should be
bies how to make a
                           the same as your response to Twitter’s.
fortune online. Discover
the secrets revealed
in a groundbreaking        Ignore them.
internet seminar so
exclusive that you         Google’s suggestions are based on the people you tend to
couldn’t buy a ticket!     email. But the people you email a lot might not be the people


                                                                                               8
you want to follow. On the contrary, you might want to use Buzz
as a way of getting closer to people with whom you currently
have a loose relationship not a regular email one.

And if you’ve just been firing off a bunch of emails to some com-
pany’s customer service address, the last thing you’ll want to do
is see them in Buzz as well.

Rather than follow the people that Google suggests then, you
want to choose people you respect and who you think are likely
to deliver interesting content. It’s just a matter of clicking the
“Find People” link at the top of the Buzz box and entering the
name or email address of the person you’d like to follow.

You don’t want to follow too many people on Buzz though.
Because the conversations can be long and detailed, it is im-
portant to make sure that you stay in control. Begin by follow-
ing a handful of people then expand slowly as you see who is
contributing the most to conversations and who’s making the
best points. Accept that on Buzz — as on the Internet — you’re
going to miss some interesting content, but that there’s plenty
more where that came from. It’s better to be in control than
overwhelmed.


1.2 Building Your
Elite Follower Group
Finding people to follow should be relatively easy. You might
want to pick people you already know, family, friends, business
contacts or some of the people you’re following on Twitter.

Building a list of people to follow you is going to be much hard-
er.

Some of the strategies that work on other social media sites will
work here too: follow someone, and there’s always a chance
that they’ll follow you back.

But because it’s likely that follower lists on Buzz will be much
shorter than those on Twitter or Facebook, that’s not something
you can count on. Just as you’ll be choosy on Buzz, so the peo-
ple you follow will be picky too. There are a number of strategies



                                                                  9
                             though that you can use to build your list of followers relatively
                             quickly:

                                1. Tell people you’re on Buzz.

                                Obvious, right? And yet overlooked. One of the first things I
                                did when I started playing around with Buzz was to invite my
                                followers on Twitter to join me. I’ve seen a lot of people talk-
                                ing about Buzz on Twitter but I haven’t seen too many peo-
                                ple sending out invitations with a link to their Google Buzz
                                profiles. That’s a missed opportunity.

Consider yourself invited!




                                Of course, you don’t have to do that only on Twitter. You can
                                send out an email to your list, post a link on Facebook or
                                mention it on your blog. If people don’t know where to find
                                you on Buzz, they won’t be able to follow you there!

                                2. Make Good Contributions To Buzz Conversations

                                One way to pick up followers on Twitter has always been to
                                join the conversations. When someone replies to you, they’ll
                                be putting your name in front of their followers, giving you a
                                shot at winning some more of your own.

                                In practice, that’s always been a somewhat slow process,
                                with a mention on even a big twitterer’s page rarely translat-
                                ing into more than a handful of new followers, depending on
                                the topic. Changes to Twitter, preventing replies to someone
                                you’re not following from appearing on your Twitter page,
                                made that less useful as a strategy. If someone replies to
                                you now, no one else will know unless they surf directly to
                                that twitterer’s timeline. It’s unfortunate but Twitter said it
                                was something they had to do. (You can get around it by


                                                                                              10
Featured                    placing a period before the @reply).

                            On Buzz though, everyone can see everyone else’s com-
                            ments, and because the conversations are likely to include
                            fewer people, they’re also more likely to be curious about
                            the other people taking part.

                            To go back to the analogy of Twitter as the wedding recep-
                            tion and Buzz as the wedding dinner, you don’t want to know
Instant Form Pro
                            everyone at the reception. But you do want to know every-
Instant Form Pro is a       one who’s sitting with you at the table — and you particu-
form creation software
                            larly want to know the people who have the most interesting
for marketers. This
user-friendly platform
                            conversation, the best anecdotes and who make the most
allows you to create        insightful comments during the dinner discussion.
simple questionnaires,
complex surveys,            As you’re contributing to the conversations of the people
contact forms, job          you’re following on Buzz, you want to be that person. You
applications, testi-        should find that sociability brings you attention, even from
monial generators,
                            people who aren’t yet following you anywhere else.
database entry forms,
feedback forms, tests
or quizzes, and much        3. Post Good Content
more. It is a must-
have for any marketer       Yes, that old Internet saw still holds true on Buzz too. In the
working online who          next chapter, I’ll talk in more detail about what I think good
wants to be able to         content means on Buzz but as always on the Web, your
get feedback and
                            ability to keep followers engaged and bring in new ones
information on their
customer base and           depends entirely on the quality of the information you put on
target market.              the service.

                            The better your content, the more people will talk about you
                            and the more followers you’ll generate.

                         As you’re building your following though, it’s worth remember-
                         ing that numbers aren’t everything. One of the biggest mistakes
                         that Twitter users make is to equate success on Twitter with the
                         number under the followers link. It’s fun to watch that number
                         grow but it doesn’t mean a great deal. After all, one way to keep
                         that number big is never to delete the spammers and the porn-
                         bots. More important is what those people do.

                         I’d always rather have a small group of highly engaged and
                         interested followers than a large crowd that never actually reads
                         or acts on anything I post.



                                                                                           11
                                 That’s the kind of following you should look to build on Buzz
                                 too. Don’t worry about building a large number of followers.
                                 Focus instead on building a community of elite people who
                                 respond to your posts, click your links and take part in your
                                 conversations with genuinely valuable comments. Those are the
                                 kinds of followers you most want to attract.


                                 1.3 The Google
                                 Profile Page –Your Buzz Hub
My Google profile page — one
of my (many) homes on the Web.




                                 My Google profile page — one of my (many) homes on the Web.

                                 So you’ve got your Gmail account, turned on Buzz and chosen
                                 some people to follow. You’ve seen their posts at the bottom of
                                 your screen, and you’ve seen the comments to those posts.

                                 Now you want to start posting some messages of your own.

                                 So you think of something smart, interesting and exciting that you
                                 want to say, click the text field and… receive a box asking you
                                 how you want to appear to others. There’s a picture where your
                                 avatar is supposed to go, a tick box that assumes you want to
                                 tell the world who you’re following and who’s following you, and a
                                 message telling you that before you can participate in Buzz, “you
                                 need a public profile with your name and photo,” and warning you
                                 that it’s “visible on the web so friends can find and recognize you.”



                                                                                                   12
That might come as a bit of a surprise. Many Buzz users would
have thought that it was enough that they’d turned Buzz on to be
able to begin buzzing away. But that was just Google’s way of get-
ting users up and running quickly. They skipped the profile-building
stage found on every social media site and dropped users right into
the thick of the action. Once those users are interested enough in
that action, they’re pointed in the direction of the profile.

And the profile is important.

Just as your Twitter profile is your main marketing page on the
site, so your Google profile is a valuable marketing platform too.
People will see it, and what they see on it will affect their desire
to work with you, buy from you, and partner with you.

So what should you put on your Google profile?

Not as much as Google wants you to put on it.

It looks like Google’s folks got a bit carried away when they
started thinking about the sort of information that might make
a profile interesting. They asked all sorts of strange questions,
such as your superpowers or something you can’t find using
Google. That might be funny if one person did it. When lots of
people are doing it, it starts to look dull and unoriginal. Skip
those questions.

Enter your name and your profession, and I think it’s a good idea
too to enter the companies you’ve worked for and even your
schools. Is it valuable marketing information? No. Will it help old
friends find you? Maybe, but that’s what Facebook is for.

You don’t have to add that level of personal detail if you don’t
want to, but the more you’re willing to reveal about yourself, the
more comfortable people will feel talking to you. They’ll know
you better and that means they’ll trust you more.

There are no rules about the amount of personal detail you
should put on your Google profile though. Place the amount that
makes you feel comfortable.

More important is the short bio. This is what I’ve placed in mine:

   Joel Comm is an entrepreneur, NY Times bestselling author,


                                                                    13
    and new media innovator. An expert on harnessing the power
    of social media and mobile applications to expand your
    brand’s reach and engage in active relationship marketing,
    Joel is a sought-after public speaker who leaves his audience
    inspired, entertained, and armed with strategic tools to create
    a new media campaign that will explode their business.

What does that say about me? The first thing it says is that I’m
using my Google profile as a sales page.

I could have written about my family, my political beliefs, my gam-
ing habit or any one of a million other things that affect my life. But
I’m using Buzz as a promotional tool so I’ve stuck to sales copy.

I’ve packed all sorts of things into that copy. The first sentence
is a general introduction. There are lots of different kinds of en-
trepreneurs, and New York Times bestselling authors write about
lots of different topics. An opening sentence though should be
enough to spark interest and encourage people to continue
reading to find out what kind of entrepreneur I am and the topics
I tend to write about. In the second sentence, I narrow it down
by mentioning social media, referring to my company’s iPhone
apps and bringing in my public speaking in case someone read-
ing this page wants to invite me to address their conference.
There’s nothing outrageously sales-y here but it does make clear
what I do and who I do it for.

I also decided to add a bunch of pictures. Google makes that
very easy — too easy, in fact. You can add a string of the pic-
tures you’ve placed on Picasa, Google’s photo-sharing site, or
on Flickr, Yahoo’s photo-sharing site, simply by clicking a but-
ton and entering the username of the stream of you want to use.
The images then appear in a ribbon beneath the bio. There are
no safeguards, passwords or email confirmations, so we just
have to hope that everyone decides to use their own photos
and doesn’t steal anyone else’s. (That’s not going to happen too
often, but don’t be surprised when it does happen.)

In general, I think it’s a good idea to have a Flickr stream. It’s a
useful place to share images of your business, your products
and the people you meet at conferences and events. Keyword-
ing those pictures and licensing them as Creative Commons,
allowing anyone to use them, can also deliver some useful viral
marketing. But if you don’t have one, not including a stream on


                                                                     14
your Google profile shouldn’t make a huge difference.

More important is your avatar.

It’s always important to use a profile picture that shows you —
not your cat, not your car and certainly not your favorite lunch.
People want to see who they’re having a relationship with so
pull out the camera and smile.

And perhaps do a bit of product placement too.

My avatar shows me holding a big green KaChing button. My
company produced an app that makes a KaChing sound when
you press it — it’s a lot more satisfying than an email ping from
Paypal — and I have a book due out in June 2010 called KaCh-
ing that uses the same image. As I said, Buzz is a promotional
tool so provided you keep it subtle, there’s nothing wrong with
using its features to promote your products.

The last feature that’s really important is your links. Google is
generous here. Twitter only provides space for one URL, forcing
twitterers to list any others in the background image, which isn’t
clickable. Include all of your URLs here, listing them by order of
importance. Remember that users tend to click the first link in
a list so make the first link the site that you most want users to
visit. I’ve chosen my personal blog, but you could even choose
a landing page here too.

And that’s largely it for Buzz’s profile. There are a lot of text
boxes on the site but only a handful of them are really important.
What’s most important is that you include a picture of yourself,
write a bio that’s promotional and descriptive but not too pushy,
and that you list your links in the right order.

And that you get the privacy issues right.


1.4 Defining Privacy Settings
A lot has been written about Buzz’s privacy issues. The biggest
privacy problem though I think has been solved. Automatically
adding people to users’ follower lists and making those lists
publicly viewable was a big mistake. The implication was that
the people on those follower lists had a certain kind of relation-


                                                                15
ship with the user: they were people the user emailed most fre-
quently. They’d been pulled out of the Gmail contact folder and
Google had no business to expose them.

That was wrong.

That mistake though isn’t there any more.

Users of Buzz now have control over what is seen and what
isn’t. They can choose to hide the list of people they’re follow-
ing and the list of people who are following them. And they can
choose not to make the profile turn up in search results for peo-
ple who look for them by name. (That isn’t the same as making
it private completely but it will make it harder to find for people
who don’t already know you.)

The privacy settings are in two places. You can find them on the
About Me page on your profile, and you can find them in your
Gmail account too.

Click Settings > Buzz in your Gmail account and you’ll be pre-
sented with five radio button options:

•      Show the list of people I’m following and the list of
       people following me on my Google profile

•      Do not show these lists on my public Google profile

•      Show Google Buzz in Gmail

•      Do not show Google Buzz in Gmail

•      Disable Google Buzz

Not all of those are privacy settings. Whether or not you show
Google Buzz in Gmail won’t affect your privacy. It just deter-
mines whether Buzz appears in your mailbox. People will still be
following you. You’ll still be following them, even if you’ve decid-
ed that you never want to read their posts. And anyone can still
find your Google profile and see those follower lists.

The first two options affect your privacy.

Clicking the first radio button hides your follower list. If you


                                                                   16
                                    want, you can then pull up that list, click “Unfollow” next to the
                                    names you’d prefer not to reveal, then return to this page and
                                    click the second button, making your list public again. You won’t
                                    be following those people any more but they won’t be appearing
                                    in your follower list either.

                                    My recommendation is to let people see your follower lists —
                                    and to understand what that means.

You can also change your                                                When you use a social media
privacy settings on your profile.                                       service, you create a commu-
                                                                        nity. You’re the head of that
                                                                        community but the commu-
                                                                        nity members have a rela-
                                                                        tionship among themselves
                                                                        too. They want to be able to
                                                                        see who’s taking part in the
                                                                        discussions and who else has
                                    a connection with you in common. Your list also shows just how
                                    important other people think your content is. A follower list filled
                                    with active, interested people is a powerful endorsement.

                                    Of course, that means that other people can see your contacts.
                                    But there’s only a problem when your contacts are only coming
                                    from email contact lists. Once you start adding people who aren’t
                                    on that list and once people on Twitter and Facebook start fol-
                                    lowing you as well, those email contacts get lost in the crowd. No
                                    one looking at my follower lists would assume anything about my
                                    relationship with the people who are following me other than to
                                    guess that they want to see what I’m putting in Buzz. And the fact
                                    I want to follow people like Dan Nickerson and Mike Filsaime is
                                    no big secret. I’m always interested in what they have to say.

                                    When Google was building follower lists out of Gmail contact
                                    books, there was a real privacy issue. Now though as long as
                                    you’re not following anyone you shouldn’t be following, I don’t
                                    think there’s a problem any more, and there’s certainly no reason
                                    to head for the last of those five options and delete your Buzz
                                    profile and posts completely — the most effective way to wipe
                                    Buzz out of your life.

                                    And if you’re still concerned about what you’re revealing, there
                                    is something else that you can do: you can restrict your posts
                                    and your contact information to certain groups of people.


                                                                                                     17
                                 The Contact Info tab on your Google profile asks who you want to
                                 be able to see this information. It then suggests organizing your
                                 contacts into groups of friends, family members and co-workers.

                                 I’m not sure that’s going to be too useful. There’s something
                                 to be said for not putting your home address on this page and
                                 broadcasting it to the world. Write a post that says you’ll be
                                 on a trip for a few days, and anyone would be able to see your
                                 address and know that you’re out of town. That’s not a privacy
                                 problem; it’s a security problem. Putting the address of your
                                 business is okay — burglars will assume there’s no one there at
                                 night and weekends, when the place will be secured — but you
                                 might want to steer clear of including your home address even if
                                 you restrict the information to friends. Your friends already know
                                 where you live, and if they don’t, they know your phone number.

                                 The kind of contact information you’d want to restrict on your
                                 profile is the kind of information you probably shouldn’t be
                                 putting on the Web anyway.

                                 More useful is the ability to restrict certain kinds of posts to cer-
                                 tain kinds of readers. That gives Buzz a whole new range of uses.

                                 Next to the Post button, under the text field, is a drop-down
                                 menu set by default to “Public on the web.” Don’t touch that
                                 button and whatever you post will be placed on your Google
                                 profile and be visible to all your followers when they check Buzz
                                 in their Gmail accounts. Click the button though and you’ll be
                                 given the option of keeping that post private. You can choose
                                 which of your group of contacts you want that post to be ad-
                                 dressed to, and you can easily create new groups or add and
                                 remove people from groups you’ve already created.

Buzz makes it easy to build
select audiences and divide up
your followers.




                                                                                                   18
This flexibility gives Buzz a whole bunch of potential new uses.
Usually, the goal of social media marketing is to attract as much
of your market as possible, turn the members of that market into
a community and give clients and partners an opportunity to get
to know you. When that knowledge develops into trust, the trust
delivers sales.

You want to go through that process with as many people as pos-
sible so it rarely makes sense to divide them into groups. But being
able to do so, does give you options. I could for example, create
separate contact groups interested in AdSense, in iPhone apps and
in social media marketing, addressing different issues to each group.

On Twitter, when you write a post that not everyone finds relevant,
you always lose a few followers. Buzz provides the opportunity to
target different posts to different audiences so that everyone is only
reading the information they want. It’s like the way that email mar-
keters create different mailing lists to ensure high response rates
and avoid irritating recipients.

This might have started as a privacy issue, as a way to ensure that
only the people you selected were seeing the information you were
posting, but Buzz’s group targeting has the potential to be a pow-
erful marketing feature.

So you’ve got Buzz. You’ve opted in, built your profile, started
following a few people and told your Twitter followers, Facebook
friends and email contacts where they can find you. Now you have
to start providing content.

This is where the fun begins.



2. CHOOSING
YOUR CONTENT
– WRITING POSTS
THAT BUZZ
                                                                    19
                                     One of the principles that I live by on Twitter is to tweet the way
                                     I want. Sure, it’s possible to plan your tweets. You can think
                                     ahead, write certain tweets at certain times and in a certain or-
                                     der so that you increase the chances that more people will click
                                     on a link or respond to what you’ve written. In time, that process
                                     becomes instinctive. Post one inspiring quote, for example, and
                                     you get retweets. Post many and you start to lose followers, so
                                     you don’t do it.

                                     You get a feel for what works so that tweeting what and when
                                     you want and tweeting for best effect become the same thing.
                                     Mostly, it’s something that requires very little thought or prepa-
                                     ration.

                                     That isn’t true on Buzz. Posts made on Buzz and posts delivered
                                     on Twitter can have very different effects so you need to think
                                     about Buzz a little differently.

                                     One of the ways in which I use Twitter as a revenue channel is
                                     by including ads in my timeline. SponsoredTweets (www.spon-
                                     soredtweets.com) deliver the ads to me, I approve them (and I
                                     can rewrite them if I want), and they’re placed at various times
                                     between my posts. Each post is clearly marked as an ad.

                                     I don’t expect a great reaction to these posts. They get click-
                                     throughs and those clickthroughs generate some income. But
                                     I don’t always expect a great number of replies from them. In
                                     February 2010, for example, I posted a sponsored tweet about
                                     hosting company HostGator. These were all the responses that
                                     post received from over 65,000 followers:

My HostGator sponsored tweet
picks up three replies on Twitter.
Not bad for a post I was paid to
make, but…




                                                                                                      20
                                But I’ve set up my Buzz account so that whatever I place on
                                Twitter is automatically posted on Buzz as well. I’ll explain how
                                to do that later in this chapter but just look at the response that
                                same post received from little more than 500 followers on Buzz:

…on Buzz, things are buzzing.




                                That’s the same post on two different platforms generating very
                                different results. On Twitter, it’s seen by lots of people but very
                                few think to reply. On Buzz, it immediately sparks an entire dis-
                                cussion about the pros and cons of different hosting services.

                                Some of that large response rate on Buzz is likely to have been
                                caused by people’s desire to play with a new toy. Buzz hasn’t
                                been around for long and users want to know what it can do. It’s
                                still fun and shiny. But I don’t think that accounts for all of the
                                difference between the two sites.

                                Twitter is a place for browsing. Posts are quick and easy to
                                make so twitterers post several each day. We don’t expect every
                                post to receive a reply and we know that most of the people
                                who read them won’t bother to respond — especially when they
                                have to cram that response into 140 characters.


                                                                                                 21
That restriction might be at the heart of Twitter and it might be
one of the things that has made the site so successful and easy
to use. But it also makes it easy to ignore. If you have some-
thing meaningful to say that you then have to boil down to 140
characters, there’s always a chance that you’ll choose to say
nothing. Twitter’s great for a light touch but if you want to have a
heavy discussion you’re out of luck.

Or rather, you’re now onto Buzz where you can have that dis-
cussion. It’s true that many of the replies posted on Buzz to
my sponsored tweet would have fitted onto Twitter but most
wouldn’t have. They were more detailed and included examples
and anecdotes. Readers were free to weigh in with both quick
replies and more thoughtful responses, a freedom which en-
couraged them to reply.

When a post on Buzz can have such a powerful effect, turning even
an ad into a point of discussion among followers, you need to think
carefully about what you post. You need to understand the different
kinds of content you can post and what they’re likely to do.

In practice, that comes down to creating two kinds of content:
ready-made content; and unique content.


2.1 Feeding In
Ready-Made Content
Once you’ve added a list of sites to your Google profile, when
you return to Buzz, you’ll find that something has changed.
Above the text field, between your name and the number of your
followers, there will be a link telling you how many sites are con-
nected to your Buzz account. Initially that will be zero. Click the
link though, and you’ll be invited to link your Buzz account with
a bunch of other sites, including Picasa, Flickr, buzz@Gmail (an
address to which you can send posts by email), Google chat,
Google Reader and, of course, Twitter. If you’re lucky, the blogs
and websites that you entered on your profile will also appear as
options. If they don’t, add this line of code to your site’s header,
replacing “profilename” with the name of your profile:

   <link rel=”me” type=”text/html” href=”http://www.google.
   com/profiles/profilename”/>



                                                                 22
Those sites can then be connected once Google has crawled
them again.

Which of those sites you choose to connect will depend on the
sort of content you post on them and how often you update
them.

The danger here is overdoing it. It’s very tempting to connect
every site you use to Buzz so that your tweets, your blog posts
and your new articles are all sent streaming to Buzz. You can
do it with just a click and immediately, you’ll be distributing your
content to yet another channel. Certainly the temptation will be
to include your tweets and your main blog at the very least.

Those two may be fine, and if you post occasional pictures on
Flickr or Picasa then sharing images could be fun too, and help
to ensure that your posts remain personal. But remember that
many of the people who are following you on Buzz will also be
following you on Twitter. They won’t want to see the same con-
tent twice. And while adding your blog posts — or at least part
of the post — to Buzz might seem a good way to bring in more
visitors, if your Buzz followers have already seen the post be-
cause they subscribe to your RSS feed, visit your site regularly,
read your emails or saw the headline on Twitter, then you’re just
adding more noise to their lives. You’ll also be drowning out the
posts that they haven’t read.

When it comes to ready-made content on Buzz then, you’re go-
ing to have to do some careful tracking and make some tough
decisions.

Ready-made content is an easy way to keep your Buzz account
active. You won’t have to do anything more than you’re already
doing, and you’ll be getting a steady stream of content flowing
through your account and — hopefully — entertaining your fol-
lowers.

It’s possible that some of those followers won’t be receiving
your content in any other way. It’s possible that even if they’re
following you on Twitter, they’re not actually reading your posts.
Or that if they do receive your email newsletters they don’t
always click the link and visit the site. Hitting them with your
content in yet another way then, will increase the chances that
more people will click through. Buzz will give you another gate


                                                                 23
through which to guide members of your market in the direction
you want them to go.

But it’s possible too that new followers will quickly realize that
they’re not getting anything new and drop out. Or if they do see
that there’s the odd bit of new content, they’ll find it’s not worth
the effort of browsing past the repeats to find it. They’ll stop tak-
ing part in your Buzz discussions and you’ll lose their interest.

One way to find out if you’ve got the balance right is to look at
your site stats. If you find that offering content on Buzz isn’t do-
ing anything for your clickthroughs, that most of your clicks are
still coming from Twitter or from other sources, then adding this
content isn’t likely to do much good. You might want to think
about using Buzz in a different way — such as turning off the
Twitter feed. (As you’re totting up those stats, bear in mind that
any link on Buzz with capital letters doesn’t appear as a link.
It’s a frustrating little glitch but if you’re looking to track your
stats on Buzz, the URLs you put on the site need to be all lower
case.)

If you find however, that your clicks grow as people who missed
you on Twitter catch you on Buzz, then that’s a good sign that
Buzz is helping you to fill an important gap.

What is unfortunate is that there’s no way to control the auto-
mated posts that reach Buzz. Either the firehose is turned on or
it’s turned off. While you can choose which audiences receive
posts when you write them yourself, you can’t filter automated
posts with different keywords to different groups, helping to
keep the noise down. Maybe that’s a change Google is planning
but for now, you want to be careful with your automated posting
and try not to overwhelm your Buzz followers.

One way to keep your automated posts though is to counteract
them with lots of fresh, new content.


2.2 Creating Content
Just For Buzz
It’s already becoming clear that the biggest difference between
Twitter and Buzz is the level of engagement. Post an update on



                                                                  24
Twitter and people will mostly read it and move on. A few will re-
spond, giving you a quick wave of a conversation and the begin-
ning of a new contact.

Post something on Buzz, and there’s a good chance that you’ll
get a full discussion which delivers valuable information to eve-
ryone who takes part in it and everyone who sees it.

So what sort of posts are most likely to trigger those discus-
sions?

It’s still early to come up with conclusive patterns that allow you
to predict exactly what will happen when you place a particular
kind of post on Buzz. At the moment however, I can see that
tweets are often ignored. That’s not always true. As we’ve seen,
sometimes even an ad can get people talking but in general, the
kinds of tweets that are posted on Twitter just because you feel
like it — the kind that help to keep a Twitter timeline personal,
warm and active — often slide right past on Buzz. They might
get a comment or two but when others are turning into threads
that are dozens of comments long, those posts look much less
interesting.

On Buzz, readers want chat, not updates, which might be a
good reason to beat temptation and turn off the Twitter feed.

It’s also becoming clear that the more specific the post, the
greater the chance that followers will want to talk about it.

At the moment, buzzing anything about Buzz is likely to gener-
ate engagement. The same thing happens on any site. If you
want to get people clicking on Twitter, all you have to is post a
link to an article about Twitter. On Facebook, people love talking
about Facebook — especially after the company has redesigned
the home page again and everyone is desperately looking for
the features they used to enjoy.

Technology expert Robert Scoble, for example, has written all
sorts of things on Buzz and with over 7,700 followers by the end
of February 2010 (he follows almost 9,000 people), his posts of-
ten generate plenty of replies. One post describing what would
make him unfollow someone from Buzz (his list includes pushing
tweets, not completing a Google Profile, and not using a photo
of yourself on that profile) picked up over 180 responses, some


                                                                 25
of which were almost as detailed as the post itself.

There are a few points to note about a Buzz post that generates
that kind of reaction. The first is that the post was just over 200
words long — much longer than a tweet but shorter than most
blog posts. It fit into a half-way space between microblogging
and traditional blogging. That might be one of the things that will
help to make Buzz succeed.

Second, it was negative. It invited people to complain, to say
what they found annoying on other people’s posts. People love
complaining and it’s always easier to knock something down
than to build it up. If you’re looking for engagement on Buzz, in-
viting your followers to make criticisms is always an easy option.

Third, it was about Buzz… but it needn’t have been only about
Buzz. Some of Robert Scoble’s other successful Buzz posts
have been those that ask about a specific site or service. Asking
whether anyone has used Vanilla Forums on their website, for
example, generated a good response as did a question about
Second Life. Uploads from his blog, which many of his followers
had probably read earlier, did less well.

I’m finding similar results both on my own Buzz posts and in
other streams that I’ve read:

•      Reposted content is picking up fewer comments
       than unique Buzz content;

•      Long posts often generate long responses;

•      Direct questions bring more responses than the kind of
       general observations we often make on Twitter;

•      Mentioning the name of specific products or services
       gives the discussion a focal point and allows people to
       weigh in with their opinions.

That should all sound quite familiar. They’re the kind of rules that
govern good conversation in general.

When you repeat yourself, people stop listening.

When you ask questions, people want to answer.


                                                                 26
When you pick a topic — whether that’s what you watched on
television last night or the latest release from Microsoft — you
create a discussion that anyone with an opinion can join.

When you say something that’s interesting, followers show their
interest!

The sort of topics you want to pick will depend on you and the
nature of your community. But on Buzz, where the goal is for
posts to win engagement, you’re not talking into the wind in the
way that you sometimes can feel that you’re doing on Twitter.
The right posts can spark long discussions.


2.3 From Engagement
To Conversions
So Buzz can get people talking. So what? When I put a post
on my website that’s particularly interesting, Google gives me
money in the form of revenue from ads in the content. But I can’t
put ads around my Buzz posts, so even if I ask a question that
gets everyone talking, I’m not going to make any direct revenue.

I might pick up a few extra clicks on sponsored tweets that I’ve
pushed to Buzz but that’s not going to make a significant contri-
bution to my income. It certainly wouldn’t make enough money
to justify creating the kind of interesting, original Buzz posts that
I’d really need to keep my followers on the site interested and
engaged.

So what value does a service like Buzz have for Internet market-
ers and other entrepreneurs?

That’s a question that’s been asked about social media since In-
ternet users first started sharing content online, and the answer
is largely the same too.

There are lots of different ways to make money on social me-
dia but the most powerful and the most effective is its ability
to build a relationship with a market. Social media lets people
know you. When they know you, they like you. When they like
you, they trust you.




                                                                   27
And when they trust you, they buy from you.

It’s a process that takes time to complete. You’re not going to
go from a single post to instant sales but as you continue to
post interesting content, your reputation grows and with it, the
kind of trust and respect that large companies spend millions in
advertising dollars to pick up.

That’s the biggest benefit of sites like Facebook and Twitter, and
it’s going to happen on Buzz too. As long as you keep posting
good content, engaging your audiences and maintaining their in-
terest, they’ll keep coming back and they’ll want to keep buying
from you.

But there are a few things that I think only Buzz can provide.

First, it shows very clearly who your most engaged followers are
and on which topics.

You can see this to some extent on Twitter too but because
replies and tweets can be made so easily, those most commit-
ted followers can get lost in the noise — and your posts can get
missed too. Nor can you go back on Twitter and compare replies
to tweets to see who replies the most. A quick glance at Buzz is
enough to reveal which names are coming up again and again,
and who is offering the most useful responses to which kinds of
posts.

That allows you to create groups of elite followers to whom you
can buzz targeted content. If you wanted feedback on a new
product before the launch, for example, you could see which of
your followers have produced the best comments, create a new
group and ask only them for their opinion. That kind of favorit-
ism will also bind that group even closer to you.

It’s also possible to get a good idea of what your market wants
on Buzz. A question on Twitter will give you short replies but when
a question on Buzz can give you completely full answers, you
might well find that Buzz is a better place to do market research.

As for special offers and discount codes, an approach that many
businesses have found successful on Twitter, I’m not sure that’s
a good idea on Buzz, at least not yet. At the moment, Buzz is
looking a little like a forum, a place for talking not selling. While


                                                                  28
a company could set up a corporate Buzz account and use it to
push company news and bargains, I think that most companies
will find that Twitter is a more effective place to pass out cou-
pons. Buzz takes too much of an investment of time to read the
post and skip past the discussions if all a follower wants is a
code that will give him 10 percent off his next purchase.

The biggest commercial benefit of using Buzz then is likely to be
an even closer relationship with your most dedicated and en-
gaged followers.



3. Buzz in Your
Social Media
Strategy
Once commentators had finished complaining about Buzz’s pri-
vacy issues, it wasn’t long before they were arguing that the last
thing the world needed was yet another social media site.

They had a point. Go2Web20.net, a directory of Web 2.0 tools,
lists more than 67 pages of different social media sites and ap-
plications. I tend to use just four — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
and YouTube — and as much as I enjoy using them, the last
thing I need is yet another site to update, read and stop me get-
ting other things done.

Had Buzz simply duplicated what those other sites were doing,
we could all have breathed a sigh of relief, and continued with
what we were doing on them. Even Google has to offer some-
thing new if it’s going to attract our attention.

Google has done that. I’m not sure it was intentional — any more
than Twitter’s founders understood what people were going to do
with the service they were creating. But they have managed to
produce a social media service that slips into a gap left by others.

•      The engagement is deeper than that on Twitter.

•      It’s more dynamic and faster-moving than Facebook.


                                                                 29
•      The posts can be longer than tweets but shorter than
       full-length blog posts.

•      And the participation can quickly allow you to identify
       your best followers and bring them closer.

There’s a unique value there, a way of deepening your relation-
ship with your best customers and biggest fans.

So how should it fit into a comprehensive social media strategy?

LinkedIn requires very little updating. I push my tweets to the
site so that visitors can see what I’m doing but I regard the site
as a place to manage connections rather than maintain them.
It’s a place with little participation and it demands little of my
time to keep it fresh and active.

YouTube is the heavy artillery of my social media strategy. The
videos I upload there take time to create and I expect them to
have a major impact on my branding, my marketing and my
connection to my audience. Again, it’s something I use sparingly
rather than as a day-to-day part of my social media activity.

Facebook I use more frequently. Although I maxed out my per-
sonal page, which is limited to 5,000 followers, my “fan” page is
growingly nicely and provides a central spot where people can see
my blog, my Twitter posts, my events and many of my products.
The feedback is useful and it’s a vibrant, fun place with enough
features for me to pack in just about any kind of content I want.

Twitter though I use just about every day. It’s so easy to use and
such a great way to create the kinds of connections that build
communities, conversations, and eventually conversions too. It’s
usually the place where I post much of my social media content,
which is then pushed to other social media platforms.

To get the most out of Buzz though will probably require a
special effort. Although Google has made it very easy to feed
content into Buzz, the best content is going to be original and
geared towards the kind of open discussions that can take place
on the site.

That means that while Twitter can be a place that you can toss
any thought that crosses your mind — and expect that revela-


                                                                 30
tion to help make friends — you’ll need to think of deeper ques-
tions to put on Buzz and to ask them more sparingly.

And while Twitter will deliver thousands of light new contacts,
those discussions on Buzz have the potential to bring you
smaller numbers of highly engaged followers.



Conclusion
Buzz has been a big surprise. I think everyone was surprised
by the extent to which Google got the launch wrong. It’s not
often that a company as big and smart as Google drops the
ball so badly.

They were then surprised at how quickly Google backpedaled.
The company listened, apologized and fixed the problem. By the
end of the first week, things were more or less how they should
have been.

But then I think that people have been surprised at the level of
engagement that Buzz has been picking up. A service that was
supposed to be a competitor to Twitter’s mass handshakes
among strangers appears to be a complementary service that al-
lows smaller groups of people to get to know each other better.

In this quick look at Buzz, I’ve explained what Buzz is and how it
works. I’ve described how to get up and running with Buzz, how
to set the privacy settings, what to write on the profile page and
how build followers.

That follower list might not be as large or comprehensive as
a follower list on Twitter or on Facebook but it should show a
higher level of engagement and allow you to target your most
loyal fans and your best customers.

Sparking that engagement though will require producing the
right kinds of content. I explained that Buzz allows users to pro-
vide two main categories of content: ready-made content that’s
previously appeared on blogs, Twitter, Flickr or other sites; and
unique content delivered solely to followers on Buzz.

The first kind is clearly the easiest to create and can be done



                                                                  31
with no more additional effort. But it also tends to have the
weakest results. Worse, it can add to the noise on Buzz, and
without any filtering options that’s always going to be a problem.
Users who pour in all their content to cut down on production
time are likely to find that they lose followers fast.

Creating unique content will make greater demands, but asking
the right questions should generate valuable discussions among
your closest followers. Those discussions will produce good con-
tent and a firm relationship to you and among your community.

Much is still missing from Buzz though. There’s no way to share
good posts in the same way that you can retweet on Twitter. You
can’t favorite content that you might want to return to and find
again. The discussions themselves can be hard to follow with
new posts sometimes hidden among older ones.

And not everyone wants to see Buzz in their mailbox.

More importantly, while sending posts to particular groups of users
is likely to prove a valuable relationship-building tool, there’s cur-
rently no way to filter automated content to different users. It would
be great, for example, (and not too difficult) to be able to add hash-
tags to tweets so that they were only shown certain contacts or not
reposted at all. That might help to keep down the noise that’s likely
to become one of the biggest drawbacks on Buzz.

It’s still early though for Buzz. At the moment, the service has
potential. It also has the backing of a smart company, one that’s
known for its innovation and which has just proved its willing-
ness to listen to users and act on their requirements.

The more people use the service, the clearer those requirements
will become and the better Buzz is likely to be.

And users too will continue to come up with more effective
strategies to make use of it.

Like most social media sites, it’s going to take time before the
power of Buzz starts to bring people together, and it’s likely to
take a little longer before those close communities of super-
engaged followers start to become best customers and loyal cli-
ents. For now, we’ll all just have to find the time to fit one more
social media site into our day.


                                                                   32

				
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