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Summary:

If you still haven’t made up your mind yet about Buzz, here are some useful tips for customizing and automating the service so that it can work with your other social networks. We’ll also look at some ways to share messages and links via Buzz with specific groups.

Reactions to Google’s new social networking tool, Buzz, appear to be divided between those who think it will topple Facebook and those who have already discounted it.

If you still haven’t made up your mind yet about Buzz, here are some useful tips for customizing and automating the service so that it can work with your other social networks. We’ll also look at some ways to share messages and links via Buzz with specific groups, which could make it a useful tool for the workplace.

The Importance of Your Google Profile

Even though Google Buzz works inside your Gmail account, your Google Profile also plays a role in managing the information you share on Buzz. What’s that? You didn’t know you had a Google Profile? Well, if you use any kind of Google account then chances are that you already have one.

To see if you do and what it looks like, go to the Google Profile page and click the “View Profile” button to log in. If you already have a profile, then you can customize it via the “Edit Profile” option. You can add many of your other social networks and RSS feeds. Notice the “Buzz” tab. Also, you can actually edit the URL for your Google Profile and create a vanity URL; mine is http://www.google.com/profiles/ThePaisano. Just bear in mind that you can only do this one time. Simon provided some more information on Google Profile here.

Sharing Stuff with Google Reader

If you use Google Reader then whatever you share there shows up in your Google Buzz stream. It’s all done via the  “Shared items” feature. Look for it under “Your stuff” in Google Reader.

You can share anything you’re viewing in Google Reader by clicking the “Share” button at the bottom of every post you’re reading. (Click “Unshare” to stop sharing it)

You can set privacy controls and only allow specified groups of people to view the items you share. This could be important for those of you that are using Buzz for work.

  1. Go to Google Reader
  2. Click on “Shared items”
  3. Click on “Sharing Settings”
  4. Change the setting for “Your shared items can be viewed by” to: “Protected (Shared with Selected Groups)”

You can manage your groups via Gmail’s Contacts. Note that selecting the “Public” option means just that: Everyone is be able to see everything you share via Google Reader and Buzz.

Buzz Browser Add-ons and Extensions

You can access Buzz via some new browser add-ons and extensions:

Buzz It! is a Firefox add-on that allows you to share anything you’re viewing by adding a button to your Firefox toolbar that launches the Google Reader sharing window. The install process is a little convoluted, and I don’t like the way it opens new tabs instead of using pop-up windows.

The Chrome Buzz extension for Chrome is good if you just want to view what’s happening in your Buzz stream. It does not provide any ways to share items or even post messages there.

By far, my favorite way to share items on Buzz is through Google Reader’s Shared Items “Note in  Reader” bookmarklet. To set it up, just go to Google Reader, click on “Shared Items” and drag the “Note in Reader” button (located on the far right-hand side) to your browser’s bookmarks toolbar. I’ve tested this in Firefox and Chrome and it works really well.

Whenever you’re reading something online and want to share it, just click the “Note in Reader” button. A window pops up with all of the details filled out; you can also add a note. Make sure the “Add to shared items” checkbox is selected, hit “Post Item” and the page is shared via your Buzz account.

Connecting Buzz to Twitter via Google Reader Shared Items

If you’re sharing links via Buzz you’ll probably want to share them with your Twitter followers, too. You can do that in a few different ways.

Twitterfeed lets send anything you share on Google Reader to your Twitter account. Just go to your Google Reader Shared Items page, copy the Atom feed and paste it into Twitterfeed. Then just authorize your Twitter account to sync them up.

Facebook’s FriendFeed can also connect Google Reader to Twitter very easily. Just click “add/edit” on your Friendfeed profile and look for the Google Reader service under “News.”

Reader2Twitter is my favorite method of synchronizing Google Reader/Buzz with Twitter because it uses the pubsubhubbub protocol to perform real-time sync. A new version has already been released that works specifically with Google Buzz. Just sign in here with your Twitter account via Oauth. You can even add your bit.ly account so you can shorten URLs and track analytics. All in all, it’s a simple but powerful little tool.

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  1. Great post – I’m still trying to figure out where Google Buzz fits into my world of communities. It is interesting that people are saying this is already better than Google Wave. Wave is really about collaboration in my mind and this is more of sharing and social networks. There is real potential her for this to be the ubiquitous hub where I see all my networks and interact. We will have to see where this goes and how fast.

    Thanks for the tips. I love the note in reader tip. I will be implementing that today.

    Matt

    1. Doriano “Paisano” Carta Matt Hixson Friday, February 12, 2010

      Thanks so much. Yes, it’s going to be interesting to see how this shakes out. I think Buzz has a great chance to stick because of the Google muscle behind it (and bucks).
      The integration with gmail, google reader and most important of all google search makes buzz a serious contender to become another tool in social media. It’s already become a buzz it button and widget on big time blogs.

  2. Great overview of Buzz. I’m liking it so far, just need to find a way to better integrate it into my life!

  3. This was very informative about the Chrome Buzz Add-on! Thanks a ton!

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  5. Here’s a short list of short-cuts for heavy Buzz users:
    N – Next Buzz
    K – Previous Buzz
    R – Reply/Comment on post
    F – Forward Buzz post to others
    Z – Forward the Buzz post to others in a new Window.
    M – Mute the Buzz post.

    When searching Buzz, you can use “from:” to search for Buzzes from a certain person. It does search all public buzz people, so searching “from:James” isn’t going to display the Buzzes from just me. Try “from:Leo Laporte” and you’ll see how it works.

    Speaking of which, Louis Gray buzz’d a leaderboard of followers on Buzz. Mashable was #1 when I looked, Leo was #2. The rest are here: http://buzz-top.appspot.com/

  6. I think Buzz has a great potential for Google Apps users. We at work are pretty heavy on Google Apps and usually come across situation where you would like to share info but in secure and closed fashion. Google Buzz addresses that very well.

    And thanks for a wonderful post.

    1. Thank you for the kind words. Great point about Google Apps! I did not think of that while writing this piece. Shame on me because I recently did “10 Free add-ons to extend Google Apps and make it more useful”! http://webworkerdaily.com/2010/01/15/10-free-add-ons-to-extend-google-apps-and-make-it-more-useful/

      Anyway…you are correct. Google Buzz will give Google apps a communication pipeline that was much needed. This will be interesting to see.

      Doriano

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  9. Good post. I did all the rest but I had missed to update Google Profile. Because it did not come into use often, I least cared profile on Google. But now, yes as you said, the role of Google Profile is very important and I need to update is immediately. Thanks for pointing it.

    Lets hope we’ll soon have buzz client application and tools. I don’t like it inside my Gmail. I am accustomed to open my Gmail two times a day – morning and evening – just to check I got some emails. It was better independent application like twitter and facebook where I’m logged on most of the time.

  10. Hey thanks for these tips. I don’t have Gmail but I have a Google profile. I don’t have a Buzz tab yet. But will the items I share with my followers appear as a Buzz for them if they have Gmail or a Buzz tab?

    @Ileane

    1. You’re welcome. That is an excellent question that I am not sure what the answer is. I will check into it. One of the flaws that I see with Buzz is actually one of its benefits…its reliance on Gmail. Yes, it gives them 176 million members out of the gate (many have/will disable it anyway) but think of the millions of people who would use it that do not have gmail accounts nor will they create one just for a social network. It’s one thing to take the time to join a service but creating an email account requires far more commitment…the difference between a lunch date (checkout a new app) vs a long term relationship (email).
      Because a friend of mine (Chris Messina) has joined Google, I predict Google will embrace OpenID and other email accounts as IDs for Buzz, which is what Chris believes in.

      Thanks for the excellent question. Let me know if you find the answer first.

      Doriano

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