Google’s new Facebook killer

In a direct assault on Facebook, Google has entered the social-networking wars with Google Buzz, a Gmail-integrated social-networking application. According to Google’s Todd Jackson, Buzz’s product manager, Buzz’s main features include:

  1. Auto-following
  2. Rich, fast sharing experience
  3. Public and private sharing
  4. Inbox integration
  5. Just the good stuff

According to a press release from Google:

The most noticeable advantage to Google Buzz is the way that e-mail comments and media, such as photos and videos, can be shared. Google Buzz automatically ‘follows’ the people who you communicate with most. Rather than broadcasting a passive “status message” like Facebook or “tweet” like Twitter, Google Buzz engages your friends by making the content that you find interesting available to them

Most of the buzz about Buzz centers around its real-time commenting features and its mobile integration, including voice recognition, which allows users to comment with voice only. No keyboard required! For developers, Google provides a Buzz API.

Not everyone, however, is enamored. And privacy issues have already been raised.

The Official Google blog has all the details.

How safe is Facebook?

Users in the United States were given access to the Facebook accounts of other people, reports the Associated Press.

“A Georgia mother and her two daughters logged onto Facebook from mobile phones last weekend and wound up in a startling place: strangers’ accounts with full access to troves of private information,” the story says.

The AP does not explain how the mix up happened, but the problem is not with Facebook, apparently. The glitch, “a routing problem,” occurred between the users’ phone and their Internet service provider, AT&T.

Security experts interviewed for the story said they had never heard of a case like this, where users were given access to the wrong account. It’s unknown whether such a mix up is rare, or just rarely reported. Experts agreed that the same flaw could happen with other applications, such as email or blogging services.

READ IT: Network Flaw Causes Scary Web Error

MORE: Ars Technica provides a not-too-technical explanation of what likely happened, including this pithy synopsis:

“So it looks like AT&T did something wrong—even though I wouldn’t call it a “routing” problem—and the company is in the process of fixing things. But Facebook also shares some blame for this situation. Apparently Facebook, like many other sites, doesn’t think the information tied to a user’s account is important enough to protect with something stronger than a clear text cookie.”

Getting social media right

Marketing Sherpa is a must-follow site for anyone involved in online marketing. Sherpa provides invaluable insight into current online marketing trends and solid research to support its conclusions. In a recent article, titled “Perceptions about Social Media are Changing,” Sherpa offers some priceless advice on corporate forays into the Facebook/Twitter scene.

The 17% of organizations who still believe social media marketing is basically free and should stay that way, are destined to get what they pay for.

Not surprisingly, those who have reached the strategic phase of social marketing maturity are far more likely to be producing measurable ROI or at least seeing signs of a return on their investment on the horizon.

On the other hand, marketers in the trial phase of social marketing maturity are more than four times as likely to not recognize the value this tactic has for organizations willing to invest appropriate time and resources.

Getting social media right takes time and planning. Jumping in haphazardly will only produce haphazard results, or none at all. Setting goals, and then devising a plan to achieve them, is the only way to go.

Your newsletter, blog, Facebook and Twitter pages should represent individual parts of a total marketing strategy. Each piece should work symbiotically with the others.

Readers who congregate on different media are often interested in different aspects of your company. Take the time to find out where their interests lie, and then cater to them.

Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites have grown so rapidly because the personal interactions they provide are far more compelling than passive Web experiences offered elsewhere on the Internet. For companies, this offers an unprecedented opportunity to reach out to potential customers.

But attitudes on the Interent are far different than those encountered in traditional media, where audiences are largely passive. Talking at your readers, or trying to steer their conversations, will only drive them away. Once gone, they are unlikely to return.

Engage readers openly and honestly, and be part of their conversations, not a television blaring annoyingly in the background.