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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Google’s Hamfisted Buzz Promotion

I highlighted some instances of misplaying customers in my previous posts. Google’s launch of Buzz provides another instance of a company botching customer communication.

Google Buzz is a networking tool. If that phrase means anything to you—if you are hip to the buzz—you might be interested. It allows you to keep track of the people in your network.

Keeping track of your network sounds fine. Unfortunately, Google launched Buzz by adding it as a feature to Gmail. The people in your Gmail address book became your public network. With half a thought, one can see how that might create imbroglios, if not worse. At least let us opt in to this service, not thrust it upon us.

Google corrected this error quickly; you can now choose whether and how to participate.This incident must have starched the momentum that Google hoped to gain for Buzz.

The launch of Buzz showed Google in the position of not quite connecting the dots. Sure, maybe a lot of Gmail users will enjoy this service. Google failed to see how a certain number of people would not want to use the service, and especially have the service thrust upon them.

Beyond that, an issue of communicating what Buzz is and can do arises. The Buzz site tells you, “Start conversations about the things you find interesting.” Um,what does that entail?

Do you see from the Buzz page a clear indication of what it is about? I don’t. Rather than communicate the essence of Buzz, Google expected you to figure it out. Many will, and will set privacy settings accordingly. Those less savvy, however, were dumped in a situation they did not ask for. That is not service, and it is not communication.

And just to show that hamfistedness is not just Google’s problem, Microsoft opened Windows Live and Hotmail to public view in the same way Google opened Gmail. Despite the reaction that Google received with Buzz, Microsoft opted you in. If you do not want what you do on Windows Live made public, go manage your account. “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

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