Staff Reporters
Mar 23, 2010

Google Buzz vs Facebook

As Google stakes its claim in social media, we ask two online experts, Lee Smith, CEO of digital for Asia-Pacific at Omnicom Media Group, and Barney Loehnis, head of digital for Asia-Pacific at OgilvyOne, what it will take for Buzz to triumph over Facebook.

Google Buzz vs Facebook

Who would triumph in a fight? Buzz or Facebook?

Lee Smith (pictured left), CEO of digital for Asia-Pacific at OMG:
It’s pretty early days for Buzz. In terms of a fight, you’ve got Facebook as the current heavyweight champion, but Buzz as an upcoming contender that comes from a long family history of rising to the top. Buzz is floating like a butterfly at the moment.

Barney Loehnis (pictured right), head of digital for Asia-Pacific at OgilvyOne:
Buzz. They are clearly prepared to use any means, fair or foul, to give them advantage over their competitors, and they have no users to lose by making ill-advised changes to the site.

Should Twitter be concerned about another entrant to the social media space?

LS: Twitter is the condiment of social media — and everyone is slathering it on. It is not worried. It’ll just keep reminding us that it’ll do as it is told and adapt to the world. Buzz even asks: “Would you like Twitter with that?” No problem.

BL: No. Buzz makes Twitter look easy to understand. Besides, most people like to solve one problem at a time, so first let’s define how to use Twitter, then we can cogitate on the purpose of Buzz.

What do you use Facebook for?

LS: I like to use it for research. Not big projects, but mini sense checks from time to time. It’s also a great way to keep friends overseas in the loop or play tricks on the ones you haven’t seen in a while.

BL: Personally: generally for making me smile at my friends’ witticisms; occasionally for returning the favour. Professionally: admiring the success of genuinely loved brand communities that have not been influenced by the brands themselves, and the witnessing the failures of communities where brands try to force themselves on reluctant customers.

Have you started using Buzz? What are your first impressions?

LS: Yes, Buzz is certainly intriguing. To me, it’s more of a features development for my Gmail account. I don’t see Buzz as a new product or destination, but an enhancement to something that was already pretty good. Buzz is like having a personal concierge that stays on top of what you’d really rather be doing, especially when you are busy with silly things like working and sleeping.

BL: My first thought was: not another place for me to update my profile on. Honestly?I would much rather Google did not try to integrate all they already know about me through Gmail, search history and Chrome with all the friends that really matter to me.

What can Buzz do for you that Facebook cannot?

LS: Buzz is extremely intuitive and makes recommendations off of the powerful Google search platform - it’s a fair and unfair advantage. Some may think that it’s too intrusive, but I like it. As a marketing pro, I’m more interested in the incremental opportunities generated by the innovations that Buzz offers.

BL: Nothing that I can think of - except target ads to me based on my search history, which offers me no benefit whatsoever.

Will advertisers take to Buzz?

LS: With tens of millions of users checking it out in the first two days and over 200 posts a minute from mobile phones, advertisers don’t have much choice. The easy part is that you can reach these users via the proven power of Google’s ad platform. For those not currently using any Google ad products, there’s now even more to catch up on. And you might want to get started today.

BL: They probably won’t know it when they do - their ads will simply be spread across it as part of their ad buy. But if ads are targeted based on personal profiles, the CTRs might be good so there will be quite a compelling proposition for advertisers.

This article was originally published in the 11 March 2010 issue of Media.

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