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Google Buzz: A Guide for Hotels.
By Josiah Mackenzie
Tuesday, 23rd February 2010
 

Google Buzz has received a lot of, well, buzz over the past couple weeks and when it comes to reviews, we have everything from Jason’s sugary love note to the Wall Street Journal’s piece on why Buzz isn’t humming along. 

I wanted to take an open-minded look at it from a hotel marketing perspective.

What is Google Buzz? How is it different from every other tool out there? How should we use it?

Google Buzz is a an alternative way to share updates with your contacts, whether they be links, photos, videos, or status updates. Everything is integrated and accessible within your Gmail account.

The Features

What Google buzz reminds me of is an RSS reader combined with social networking tools: all within your Gmail inbox.

Some of the key features that you can expect from it are the following:

  • There’s no set-up required. Since it’s already integrated with Gmail, you automatically follow the contacts you’ve already made. Google starts off by showing updates of the people that you’ve emailed and chatted with the most.
  • The option for public and private sharing. You can either set up your feed to be viewable by anyone or just close contacts like friends and family. If you’re going to use Buzz for marketing, you’ll choose the former.
  • Inbox integration allows you to view all updates from your contacts within a single Gmail feed, instead of flooding your inbox with updates like most social networking clients.
  • A “Recommended buzz” which shows friend-of-friend content in your stream, showing media with the most feedback from your contacts or which has content of similar interest to your own.
  • An option for direct comments. This feature’s similar to Facebook’s status updates where you can carry a conversation in real-time and keep it monitored by sending the message to your email. You also have the option for direct replies to posters, which is done simply by placing an “@” sign before a user’s name to have a message addressed to them (much like Twitter).
  • Buzz seems to work well on mobile phones – particularly on Android and iPhone browsers – so that you can view updates on the go.
  • Rich media sharing allows you to combine networks like Picasa, Flickr and Twitter into a single feed.
I like the way Google displays large images:

The benefits

I enjoy how Buzz shows “just the good stuff.” (Something I love on Facebook as well) As you start working in social media full time, the sheer volume of content can be overwhelming. Buzz, on the other hand, can be ‘trained’ to your preferences. Don’t like what you see? Just click “dislike” and Buzz will start to learn the types of content that interest you.

Location-based services will be huge in 2010, and Buzz is doing a nice job with their mobile version. I see so many opportunities here that I have a followup post drafted on this topic.

Finally, the fact that everything’s integrated into one feed makes it easier for browsing. I see this as the big selling point for Buzz. All of us have to manage communication on so many platforms, that the ability to manage everything from one familiar interface (Gmail) is an attractive proposition.

The missing features

ReadWriteWeb has a good analysis of this in their article: www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_buzz_the_missing_features.php

The two big things I noticed were:
  • It’s not so easy to find new friends. My routine Gmail contacts may not be the same people I interact with in social media.
  • Twitter and Facebook integration could be better. Since those are the dominant players right now, this is critical.
Opportunity for hotels

It’s a little early to make a judgment call on whether Google Buzz will become a major player in social media marketing. But I do see some early opportunities emerging.

Back to the location-based component for a moment. The opportunities for destination marketing could be huge. You could find what people are talking about in your area, and run with it. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, the future of the web is content in context.

Since this is an email-based service, there might be strong opportunities for customer service. Privacy may be an issue to address, but there could be the potential for us to learn a lot more about the people we serve online.

Internally, I see opportunity for Buzz to facilitate communication among employees. I’m frustrated the tool is not yet integrated with Google Apps (enterprise version of Gmail), which we and many others use for business messages. But this integration of social media and email could open up whole new ways of communicating.

Lastly, with Google leading the way in search technology, Buzz could be at the forefront of developments in social search and real time search. We’re still watching how this plays out, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Google Buzz use affecting SEO strategy in the near future.

Closing thoughts

Dion Hinchcliffe sums it up well in his overview: http://blogs.zdnet.com/Hinchcliffe/?p=1212

Google Buzz is well-designed and useful but it’s going to be seriously challenged because the very people most likely to be interested in Buzz will already have places to carry out their online social activities. This means Google Buzz may end up being more useful in places where there’s a lot less dominance by the consumer Social Web, such as in the enterprise.

It could be said that travel is another area that doesn’t have a clear dominant leader when it comes to the Social Web. If Google can leverage their other platforms to take leadership in this area, the implications would be huge.

How are you working with Google Buzz? www.google.com/buzz

Original article: www.hotelmarketingstrategies.com/google-buzz-guide/#more-3016

About the author
This blog is written by Josiah Mackenzie, who enjoys exploring the relationship between emerging technology and the hospitality industry. 

www.hotelmarketingstrategies.com

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