On Tuesday Google released its new social media application Google Buzz and by Thursday it had 10 million users. Is this a harbinger of things to come? What does Buzz offer photographers seeking to engage with customers.
Many photographers have discovered how social media can be a great tool for establishing contact with user groups (and peer groups). Here’s a look at the emerging social media landscape as it stands now,
Twitter offers instantaneous conversation within the confines of 140 character text-only tweets. Well known photographers like Jack Hollingsworth @photojack, @stockphotoguy, @JoeMcNallyPhoto, @ScottKelby and @TreyRatcliff share news, insight and encouragement in the photographic community, both pro and amateur. Many others are building a following and using Twitter a resource for networking and keeping current in the industry. Vendors, publications and professional associations all have an active presence. Twitter can be readily searched for specific topics, eg. Nikon D3 and anyone can follow and read your tweets.
Facebook offers two modes of involvement for photographers: a personal profile tied to their name, and a visual artists fan page associated with their business. Many photographers have both, sharing more personally and informally with friends and colleagues on their profile and with customers and acquaintances on the fan page. Friending on personal pages is based on mutual agreement, but fan pages are asymmetrical; any Facebook user can follow are share.
Since Facebook supports images and links, plus the importing of blog feeds, the experience is richer. However Facebook is mainly a closed community so only Facebook members can see and comment on shared items. Even so many photographers, photo associations and publications and vendors have fan pages with active discussions and sharing among a wide audience. With 400 million users (vs. Twitter’s 55 million) the potential market is huge.
As a latecomer to social media (except for the ill-fated Orkut) Google Buzz has burst onto the scene with gusto. Buzz is built in to the Gmail application and namespace so is immediately available to more that 150 million Gmail users have access to Buzz without the need for additional software. Within the new Buzz tab, users can post an entry with links and embedded images and video, and anyone can add text comments which appear in realtime. Like Twitter anyone can follow you or comment on your thread.
What Google adds is a rich user profile which identifies all of your various web presences: blogs, Photoshelter, Flickr and Picasa sites, Tumblr Twitter, FriendFeed, and Facebook. Buzz then gives you the opportunity to connect most of these (though not yet Facebook) so they update your Buzz stream (some in near real-time). Eventually updates and comments will flow back upstream to the originating source.
The larger area for display of images and quick posting gives more room for extended conversations. It is not uncommon for threads to run over 100 comments, and Buzz conversations tend to be very animated, though that be because many early adopters are techies eager to test out the new tool.
RIght now Buzz is definitely a place to explore, feed in content from other sources, though do be careful to avoid overlap. We will soon see the shape of the photographic community which develops.