Why Google's Social Networking is Different
A recent question on our internal campus communicators network prompted a question about Google’s social networking entrant, Buzz. There’s been plenty of chatter about it, so I don’t feel the need to summarize what Buzz is.
Google has had several forays into social networking, including a very popular network called Orkut (basically Facebook, but most popular in Brazil and India). They’ve also built Google Profiles, which are required to use the new Google Buzz. There are other social tools as well, but Google hasn’t caught the wave as an industry leader yet.
What’s most promising is the social integration with tools we already use and value. Facebook is a standalone application, but Google can add a layer of social networking on top of your email, documents, and other productivity tools. That social layer is great for collaboration, discovery, and productive networking (as opposed to seeing what your long-lost high school classmates are up to).
A great example is the recent social search that Google launched late last year. Once you’re hooked into it, you’ll see results from your social network. For instance, when I search for higher ed marketing at the bottom of the page I see “Results from people in your social circle for higher ed marketing” including blogs, links, and other content that people in my social circle found valuable.
We’ll see if Google supplants any of the networks (I doubt it) but I believe they’ll do a wonderful job of integrating them and augmenting our online experience to add value – something many other networks fail to do.