A lot of the buzz about Buzz has died down, but this conversation service from Google is just beginning to experience a surge of traffic. If it’s like many social media tools, it will take a while for users to hop on board—after early adopters charge forward first. When I heard that my colleague, tech guru Leo Laporte loves Buzz, I knew that I had to get up-to-speed on how it works. Here is what I’ve learned that will help beginners get Buzz-ing in no time.
Find and follow. When you first log in to Buzz (which you will find in a menu item that sits below your Inbox in Gmail), Google’s smarts shines through. The search engine giant has carefully selected a list of people already active in your email community, and it suggests that you start with them as your first Buzz follows.
Although there were some people in this list that I don’t communicate with on a regular basis, for the most part it was an excellent group of people to kick-start my account. If you want to add or delete anyone from this list, simply click the View and edit link and you can modify it. You can also search for people to follow and there is an additional list of suggested Buzz friends. You can also see a list of users following you, and choose to follow back if you like.
Start a conversation. Once you have your list of follows set up, go back to the main Buzz screen and start a conversation. The big blank box at the top of the page is where you can post what you’re thinking, what you’re watching, or link anywhere on the web.
Unlike Twitter, which forces you to communicate in 140 characters or less, on Buzz you have ample room to communicate. One feature that works well is the option to share YouTube videos, which are embedded directly within your post (this means that your followers don’t have to leave their Gmail inbox to check out your content).
Once you do add a link or write something in the big blank box, you can post it immediately so that it is available publicly on the web for anyone to find or see. You can also choose to keep your post private, sharing it with a select list of people that you manually add.
Join a conversation. If you’re not ready to start a conversation, it’s even easier to join one. Back on the main Buzz screen you’ll see a stream of buzzes from your community. At the bottom of each post you’ll find three options: Comment, Like, and Email. On the upper right-hand side of each post you’ll find a pull-down menu that has these same options, but it also allows you to view all posts from this one person, mute this post, stop following this person, or report abuse.
In most cases, you’ll simply want to comment on a post, share that you like a post, or email a post. This last option is pretty handy since with one click your email compose screen appears on the Buzz page so you can send a post to anyone already in your Gmail contact list.
Over time you’ll notice plenty of other useful features in Buzz, but the three simple steps outlined above should be enough to get you hooked. As Leo mentioned to me in a recent chat, Twitter is a great tool for broadcasting to the world, but Buzz is an exceptional service to converse with the people in your community that you care about the most. In my next Open Forum post, I’ll address how to tweak your privacy settings in Buzz so you’re information is safe and secure.
Amber MacArthur is a social media consultant, speaker, and author of Power Friending: Demystifying Social Media to Build Your Business (June 10, 2010 release). You can follow her on Twitter at @AmberMac.