Why Buzz Beats Twitter, Facebook, and Friendfeed

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UPDATE 10/06/2010: In retrospect, I was completely wrong. It had to happen sooner or later. Read the rest at your own risk.


Buzz is a breath of fresh air in an increasingly noisy social media world. Why do I think it’s superior to Twitter, Facebook, and Friendfeed?

Let’s take the easiest comparison first:

Buzz vs. Friendfeed

Right now, Buzz basically is Friendfeed but with immediately greater penetration. Real conversations with more people.

[BTW I know I have Buzz on the brain because I just tried to create italics in this blog post _this way_]

(Crazed Hulk Scobleizer) by Thomas Hawk

One interesting difference though, is that people seemed to like the 3.0 aggregator aspect of Friendfeed but:

    1. Buzz users hate noise, and
    2. They unfollow people who add Twitter and Friendfeed streams to their Buzz streams.

      Buzz beats Friendfeed because Buzz is bigger.

      Buzz vs. Twitter

      As much as I loved Twitter in 2008, I loved it less in 2009 when celebrities took over, and I can take it or leave it now that it’s all botted-out.

      (Twitter peeps) by Thomas Hawk

      I still tweet people and @reply them. What I find so dissatisfying is how short and superficial the conversations are. It’s a great place for a quick joke or comment, but 140 characters is limiting, and a lot of conversations end more quickly than Buzz conversations.

      This blog post’s many cool quotes (below) are substantial because they came from a Buzz conversation. If they were tweets, they wouldn’t stick to your ribs so much.

      Another advantage Buzz has is that you can see how many people are likely to hear you if you comment, and the gmail integration ensures people will return to reply.

      Buzz beats Twitter because Buzz has:

      1. Longer, more substantial conversations, with
      2. More replies and
      3. More attention from participants.

      Buzz vs Facebook

      As I’ve said, people seem less tolerant of noise on Buzz. No pokes, Zombie kisses, or farming games on Buzz. There’s less downside for ADD folks (and some research suggests that computer multitasking makes our brains temporarily ADD even if we’re not genetically that way).

      Less distraction means more focused interaction, and more likelihood of substantial conversation.

      Portrait of Buzz by Thomas Hawk

      As my fellow Buzzer Thomas Lucas says:

      Facebook is very social and “everyone is on it” but it is becoming MySpace really fast. I think the future of real social interactivity and news will be buzz. You can have conversations that are real-time and in order-you don’t have to keep scrolling/clicking to find out what tweet people are answering. And the “no frills” of Google will HOPEFULLY keep the farms, mafias and daily horoscopes out of buzz. Tweet your “thoughts”, plant some crops and talk to that “hot girl” from high school on Facebook and keep buzz for news and conversations.

      More comparisons from Myrna Weinreich:

      Love Buzz, not sure exactly why but ‘deeper’, richer than FF and definitely more than FB which is usually (not always) a superficial ‘hey there, whatcha doin’.

      And down the road, if ads come to Buzz they’ll likely be AdWords text ads, which are much less distracting that the image/banner ads we see on other social platforms. AdWords text ads are semantically relevant, and tend to be more of a service to the user than other ad types. Relevant ads won’t diminish conversation as much as other ad types on other social sites do.

      Buzz beats Facebook because Buzz protects conversations from noise and spam.

      Change, Social Platform Identity, and Survival

      It does seem that MySpace-ification is a danger for all social networks. As soon as you try to make the social platform a place where people can live their entire lives, you junk it up, and the noise obstructs real interaction.

      No Dumping by Observe The Banana

      Twitter has stayed focused, but their API lets in a lot of noise. Hopefully Buzz will remain focused and add the connected sources filter Buzzers are asking for (so they can follow you but filter out your tweets, if they like).

      Here are a few a the things Robert Scoble wants from Buzz, many of them related to noise:

      #1. I need noise filters.
      #2. I need noise filters.
      #3. I need noise filters.
      #4. I need noise filters.
      #5. I need noise filters.

      Oh, sorry, my Twitter import just barfed.

      Let’s start again.

      #1. I need a way to remove Tweets. All Tweets. I haven’t seen a single Tweet that is not noise here.
      #2. I need a way to remove whenever Jesse Stay talks about FriendFeed. That’s noise.
      #3. I need a way to remove all the reposts of Mashable or Techcrunch items. That’s noise.
      #4. I need a way to only display items that get engagement. That would remove noise.

      Here’s another post about noise and Smart Filtering.

      Louis Gray mentioned a ProBlogger (Darren Rowse) post about defriending most of his Facebook friends, because he’s shifting FB use from blog promotion back to its original friend/personal usage. Andy Beard is experimenting with leaving Twitter (he’s not the first and won’t be the last). Do these two movements mean anything larger?

      Most assuredly they underscore that everything changes. In the midst of this change, the social platform that enables conversation and protects us from noise and spam will enjoy the greatest success.

      Different Strokes for Different Folks

      Ultimately, as cool as the versus metaphor is, it’s not about one platform winning, but each one having strengths, and each attracting an audience that prefers that communication style:

      Something I think alot of people forget is that the very nature of each of these apps/sites is different, and attracts a different audience. Of course, there is always some crossover, but my own audience is quite different in each of the properties.. Just because of the variability of the features/formats, etc.

      A lot of people make the mistake of just dumping anything and everything to every social media outlet (Scoble, Pirillo, etc). The real key for businesses is to have content keyed/tweaked to each of the sites.

      Engaging in conversation appropriate to each of the mediums as it were.

      Scott Medlock

      Brian Carter is Director of SEO, PPC, and Social Media for Fuel Interactive, cofounder of TweetROI, and a passionate keynote speaker.

      Brian Carter
      Brian is author of The Like Economy: How Businesses Make Money With Facebook and Facebook Marketing: Leveraging Facebook's Features For Your Marketing Campaigns, How to... Read Full Bio
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      • Christopher Masiello

        Great observation. You nailed it on just about every front. Buzz gives you:
        Twitter-style updates, pluse threaded conversations
        Facebook pics and videos, minus Farmville
        It’s pretty easy to use and figure out (unlike Wave)
        It’s where you want it, right under your inbox
        I was thinking this for a few days now and didn’t have a clear enough train of thought to put it into an article.
        Thanks, this is probably better than I would have done.

      • Andy Beard

        I haven’t gone into quite all the reasons I am leaving yet, but one I highlighted today in a video is findability.

        I can trust Gmail to help me find an email from 4 years ago

        I have years worth of email, IM conversations in GChat and Skype, and Twitter lets me search 7 days of tweets.

      • Brian Carter

        Ya that’s crazy. But you can “site:twitter.com” search Google for tweets, if needed- as I’m sure you know, but for everyone else, here’s a tip:

        For example “site:twitter.com/andybeard/status buzz” gives us http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Atwitter.com%2Fandybeard%2Fstatus+buzz or 4 tweets about Buzz by @AndyBeard

      • Andy Beard

        But your tip doesn’t take into account that Twitter blocks indexing with robots.txt for anything with a parameter, as in all next pages.


        I have close to 5000 tweets, and Google finds 155

        My tweetglide blog has more pages indexed and doesn’t gain the benefit of close to 10,000 followers, 1400 lists and TBPR PR6

        • Brian Carter

          Good point!

          • Alex Schleber

            Hi Brian,

            first off, thanks for including my rant on filtering possibilities badly needed on Buzz and elsewhere.

            The only real solution up to now for the Twitter “disappearing tweets” dilemma (and I have complained about it loudly for about a year), has been import into Friendfeed, where all of your tweets become nicely archived and searchable with a pretty sophisticated search facility in FF.

            Now, especially if it fixes the shoddy/spasmodic import of Twitter and brings better noise filtering, I would add Google Buzz to the mix. Which is the one reason why I am loath to just shut off Twitter import on Buzz right now, b/c I woud lose this new, presumably secure until the end of the Internet :), archiving of my tweets there.

            After all, none of us can know for how long Friendfeed will be kept around. It’s in Zuckerberg’s hands now, and I don’t really trust them…

      • Paul Allen

        I’ve always been very underwhelmed by twitter and the amount of people that love it. I think this could be celeb influence….

        Still use it for now.

      • Thomas Hawk

        Excellent article articulating many of the reasons why I too prefer Buzz over some of those other platforms.

        Love those photos! πŸ˜‰ Thanks!

      • Sheryl Sisk

        I don’t quite understand why Buzz “feels” more grown-up and robust than Twitter – partially it’s the character delimitation, partially (I think) it’s the greater control over who sees what, but there’s this weird x-factor at work, too. I generally agree with Brian’s post – I really do think Buzz is superior, although it is certainly far, far from ideal. Much can and should be done to improve many features (please, Gods of Google, collapsible posts? Mashable’s killing me).

      • Heather Sanford

        Personally, I am having trouble understanding Google Buzz and how it works. I will stick with my Twitter and Facebook.

        • Brian Carter

          At its simplest level, just like or reply to messages. Follow people who say cool stuff. I think it’s easier than Twitter because no new symbols to learn etc. if you don’t want to. Give it a try!

      • Robert Wayne

        Hmmm… I am not against buzz… I just haven’t felt a draw yet. I definitely am feeling the bot-i-f-cation over at twitter. I do however LOVE the way facebook creates links with a photo preview and description. Could it be better, sure.

        Is Buzz going to stick? Is the gmail integration enough? Or will it fail like orckt, or okcurt, wait… what was that called?

      • Devon

        Hmm… interesting article I can’t agree nor disagree due to one unanswered question What are you measuring “noise”.

        I mean when doing a comparison you need to compare it to something… and noise just don’t cut it.

        Lets take Facebook and Twitter both platforms was created to be social, both platforms allow people to interact now how people interact is a matter of choice.

        If you choose to have 1,000 friends then automatically there will be “noise” so try your measurement with less people who have less than 100 friends, followers or followees.

        Would there still be as much noise…there is a big keyword that we sometimes miss as marketers and SEO experts. “SOCIAL” media most social gathering are a little noisy.

        These platforms was created for people to mass interact so until we define what we are measuring I can’t really agree with you.

        • Kap

          I agree with Devon. Buzz is way too new to use “noise” as the criteria for comparison.

          • Brian Carter

            Devon, Kap, I think “noise” is subjective. If you quantified it, everyone would have a different threshold.

            In neuropsych, when discussing ADD, the term is signal:noise ratio. Everyone has a different tolerance for noise. Those with lower tolerance need more signal. And noise is defined subjectively.

            If you want more substantial conversation, as I do, then Buzz has more signal and less noise for that than Twitter or Facebook.

      • Dennis

        Can’t we stick to one platform for, well atleast a few years?
        Next thing will be Buzz beeing fuzzed..

      • Kosta

        I disagree with you Brian. Here are the resons:
        1. Claiming that Buzz is better then Friendfeed cause its bigger and in the same time talking of social noise is a frank contradiction in terms πŸ™‚
        2. you expect from Twitter to be a communication machine, while it is not. Twitter is one simple web notificator – nothing more, nothing less. The first 3 columns in your mail browser. Pls compare Buzz and Friendfeed on the depth and quality of conversations.
        3. I think that comparing an aggregator like BUZZ and a social network is fundamentally incorrect. They are thought to serve different purposes. You cannot blame your mixer that it doesn’t freezes food like your freezer is doing, right.
        In short, the only real comparison shall happen between buzz and friendfeed. buzz doesnt integrate facebook, so it will stay half beneficial for the mass user. friendfeed is a dying product. i am pretty much sure that something else will be the answer for everyone’s needs to consume quality information on a personal level and someone out there is probably working on it…

        • Brian Carter

          1. Bigger means more people I can talk to, not necessarily more noise.

          2. If Twitter were only a “notificator” there would be no such thing as an @reply.

          3. Buzz can aggregate, but a lot of people don’t like that aspect of it, and keep demanding connection filters. Even if Buzz is an aggregator, it is still also its own social network that connects Google accounts/profiles.

      • Chris Ballance

        A public forum (Buzz) has exactly zero business being integrated with an email system (GMail.) This was a quick hack by Google to pick-up users for it’s latest attempt to expand its reach into the social media sphere. While I understand the inherent insecurity of plain text email transfer, I have some expectation of privacy when it comes to my email. If it becomes integrated with something that is clearly not private by design, someone has failed miserably on both the email, and social media side.

        Twitter is more valuable to me than other social media sites -in great part- due to the 140 character maximum you mention as limiting the depth of the conversation. If it is a longer conversation, users can easily take it offline, moving it to email or whatever they prefer. While it is a seemingly low cap, it is a good cut-off point that continues to work well for me.

        As for celebrities taking over Twitter: It is whatever you choose to get of it. I don’t personally follow many celebrities and have never noticed it being “about the celebrities” at all. If you think it is, then it is fairly simple to just not follow them.

        Thanks for the article, but the only Buzz it generated for me, was “privacy fail.” I disabled it within hours of it going live and have no intention of ever using the service.



        • Brian Carter

          I don’t understand what you mean about taking deeper conversation to email- then it’s no longer a group activity.

          What you’re describing is an argument for Buzz, not against it. Buzz fills the gap for deeper group conversation in between the Twitter superficialty and gmail superintimacy.

      • Maritza van den Heuvel

        Some points here that I agree with, others not so much. Yes, Buzz can help greatly to eliminate noise. But since it assumes the people you follow are those you interact with on gmail, it eliminates the happy coincidences of connecting with people who you may actually have something in common with. I’ve made some pretty amazing connections via Twitter that would never have happened elsewhere.

        I also don’t like the way it assumes that gmail is my email platform of choice. I barely use it, since both my work email and my private email are elsewhere, and I like where they are.

        So currently, I don’t think Buzz gives me all that much extra to warrant a full migration to Google. Yes, the archiving would be great. But who really bothers to keep track of old tweets? To me they’re passing comments – it’s the stuff they point to that should be archived or bookmarked, since those are generally not of a passing nature.

        • Brian Carter

          Maritza- actually you do find new people on Buzz, by participating in conversations- the conversation may include someone who’s a gmail contact of one of my gmail contacts, and if they say something interesting, I’ll check out their Google profile and maybe follow them- and you can also search for people’s Google profiles and then follow them in Buzz.

      • Liberation

        I disagree and think Buzz is too little, too late. Sure they corrected their privacy issues – the ones that had me auto following a frenemy, my oncologist, and a staffing agency I once worked with – but do we really need another place to make lists and follow people? Especially the random mixture of people in our in-boxes?

        If you don’t like Twitter because of the celebs, don’t follow them. I edit the list of people I follow on Twitter based on what they share, how much they talk about nonsense, and if I find them interesting or not. Following / unfollowing people always keeps my Twitter experience fresh and engaging. Certainly John Mayer and Ashton Kutcher are not going to keep me off of Twitter! πŸ™‚

        I like that Twitter is limited to 140 characters because I can quickly skim someone’s feed and tell within 10 seconds or so if they have anything valuable / interesting to say.

        And all this talk of Buzz snuffing out Twitter and Facebook is not going to happen. The other day I was reading an article on employers screening social media profiles and it had the option to share it on Twitter, Facebook, and Buzz. 2085 people retweeted, 498 people shared on Facebook, and 0 people Buzzed it. That was on the 24th of February, as of today the article still hasn’t been Buzzed.

        • Brian Carter

          First, I believe the Buzz counter doesn’t count # of comments in conversations, which it should- the engagement on Buzz is deeper. If you count individual tweets, you should count Buzz comments, not Buzz posts.

          But I don’t see Buzz as a place that’s as much about sharing blog posts as Twitter is. A fair amount of conversations I’ve had there are around photos or music.

          Twitter has become a great place to share blog posts, but it can be a bit excessive. Blog comments, I think, are the best place to discuss a blog post. Don’t know if we need to do that on Buzz.

          Even Mashable buzzes about Mashable posts often lead to conversations that are as much about the teaser question, not the blog post. Sometimes I don’t read the post and I just respond to the conversation.

      • Andy Beard

        Wow so a post from 19th August last year hasn’t been buzzed by anyone?

        But you realise that the Buzz buttons people are using on blogs right now are just a click counter for Google Reader shares and might have only been in operation for a couple of weeks?

        Each Google reader share creates a separate conversation which might attract likes in Buzz, shares in reader, distributed conversations in Friendfeed etc

        You really need to be able to understand what a metric is before you use it.

      • Lucretia M Pruitt

        Is there some special irony to the fact that I saw your article on Buzz because Francine Hardaway’s Facebook account let me know about it? Probably.

        Until Buzz gets more refined filters on the *reader* side? I’ll just occasionally peruse it as I do most other platforms.

        The more time goes by, the more I’m finding I like interacting on Facebook. Twitter became too noisy. FriendFeed & Buzz are both about “having deep conversations” for the ‘powerusers’ — sorry, but if I want a ‘deep conversation’ the odds are good that I’m on your blog, not in my inbox.

        At some point we’ll have a Social platform that realizes that not everything everyone says is golden and allows the reader to filter on the person level, not the topic, other feed, or general level.
        That will be the game changer.

        So far? Buzz is the same as the others: Firehose.

      • Dudley B. Dawson

        This is by far the gayest post I’ve ever seen. And I don’t mean “gayest” in an offensive way. I mean “gayest” in a jesus-christ-I-cannot-believe-people-actually-put-this-much-thought-into-something-this-stupid kind of way.