The arrival of Google Buzz represents the latest twist in an already confusing landscape for social media. Can it displace or aggregate our existing hubs of social networking, like Facebook for personal friends and LinkedIn for colleagues? Regardless of the success or failure of Buzz, there are three major implications for marketers.
1. Social media is changing the face of email. One of the underlying takeaways here is that fundamentally, email is changing. It’s becoming more immediate, less tethered to a desktop and more social. The lines continue to blur between email, status updates, instant messaging and RSS feeds. Google Buzz is just the natural evolution of the blurring lines, following in the footsteps of other examples like Facebook email and LinkedIn InMail.
2. Email marketing must get social. These blurring lines mean it’s easier to share explicitly with an individual or implicitly with anyone who wants to listen. To capitalize on this trend, marketers must mature their social media marketing beyond corporate fan pages and display ads. They must exploit the more powerful idea of using social media to expand the reach of marketing campaigns by promoting social sharing features that make campaigns viral. As sharing content becomes easier and more pervasive, extending a marketing campaign’s reach and going viral are all that more attainable.
Make your messages more compelling to share and more likely to be shared. Email vendors are making this easier by embedding social-sharing features directly into marketers’ messages. This means links for forwarding-to-a-friend, posting to Facebook and sharing via Twitter can easily be inserted into every email or landing page a customer sees.
3. Social is a game-changing awareness medium. For now, at least, the most compelling marketing opportunities stemming from new sites like Buzz — and other social networks as well — aren't centered around executing campaigns (e.g., display ads, coupons, etc.). Instead, they've become a rich vehicle for customer awareness. What are people saying about my brand? What's this specific individual saying about himself or herself?