Despite some initial flaws, Google Buzz continues to show promise as a social marketing platform. It has a significant (though somewhat latent) user base, with an increasing number of loyalists who swear by it.
When a green field lies before you, so does opportunity. Some non-profits stand to gain from being part of the early Buzz adopter community. Whether a cause needs to further the dialogue with a tech-savvy crowd, or is attracted to the functionality of Gmail integration, Buzz does bring some new capabilities to bear.
Here are four great uses for Buzz in cause-based activity.
1. Manage Public Conversations Better
A useful feature of Google Buzz is its public threaded conversation stream. This format has significant advantages over Twitter’s disjointed @reply conversations and hashtag-based threads, as well as Facebook’s often high privacy walls.
“We’ve been looking at using Buzz to have public conversations about Mothers Fighting for Others‘ work with an orphanage in Kenya,” said Jeff Turner, President of Zeek Interactive. “We want to be able to facilitate a consistent thread of conversation, but we want it to be more public and open than Facebook or [Google] Wave would allow. With Buzz, we feel like we can maintain a clear stream of thought around a topic, and at the same time, do it in a public forum where someone we might not be able to envision being interested could join in.”
2. E-mail Integration Means Better Workflow
Non-profits could use Buzz to manage workflow across a group. This can be useful for an organization with project teams spread across multiple offices or in the field. With e-mail integration, it saves the organization from having to set up a separate account with another private conversation tool like Basecamp.
“An example would be to set up Buzz as a private group for a project team, large or small,” said Shireen Mitchell, a Washington D.C.-based digital activist. “Twitter updates, blog posts, and other related content that has an RSS feed can be connected to individual [Buzz] accounts tracking topics related to the project. The team can make comments and select “like” to provide a consensus of interest on each update. This would keep the team updated on news, topics and content for any existing issue-driven social media campaign of the organization. [It’s] sort of a mini crowdsourcing of the team.”
3. Finally Connect to “Unsocial” Users
Another interesting aspect of Buzz’s workflow and e-mail integration is the use of a system that blends 2.0 functionality with a 1.0 system. Non-profit managers can use this to intelligently blend workforce conversations between younger and older, or tech-savvy and entrenched members of their teams. Crossing the streams may enable better communications.
“Google Buzz allows users to publish private streams to specific contact groups,” said John Haydon, a non-profit social media strategist. “This is a perfect way to include staff members who don’t use social media in important real-time conversations, especially during news-worthy events like the earthquake in Haiti.”
4. Geo-Location Adds a New Element
When Google launches a social network, it brings more to bear than your average start-up. Consider the ability to integrate geo-location with Google Maps into your social network activity. People can see social activity on the fly.
“Fast forward to a cause marketing campaign like Starbucks’ partnership with Product RED,” said Joe Waters, author of the Selfish Giving blog. “Buzzing about the latest campaign to a really large audience with geo-location features [enabled] lets people see in real-time all the people [talking] about the campaign in their area — especially in densely packed areas in New York where [Starbucks] are practically right across the street from each other.
“In short, Buzz can potentially broadcast a cause marketing campaign to a much larger audience than say Twitter. And the geo-location feature, if it takes off, can give a program a real-time, tangible quality that can’t be replicated on another [social media] platform.”
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