Google Buzz and News Sites: Good Potential But Facebook Still the Better Play

Google Buzz has certainly gotten a lot of attention in the past week for privacy concerns, suggestions for improvements and its “Code Red” push to get things right. At this early stage how strong are the marketing opportunities for news sites?

Sharing and discussing content is a key component of Google Buzz so it’s a natural fit for article promotion and audience development. At a minimum news sites should set up an official profile and experiment with “buzz this” buttons on their templates.

Mashable was one of the first to set up a branded profile and they’ve done well in attracting more than 18K followers to date, although at least for now they are not choosing to follow their audience back:

Mashable Google Buzz followers

Despite this their followers are actively engaging with the content; many Mashable submissions are getting a decent number of “likes” and comments:

Mashable Google Buzz comments

I wouldn’t expect this to be driving significant traffic yet but as Google Buzz adoption and usage grows the traffic will grow with it.

To what degree that happens depends on how well Google does at improving the interface and functionality. Outside of the privacy issues, most of the current criticism lies with the fact that Buzz is simply too busy and overwhelming. Adding more filtering and organization options will help, and continuing to (safely and appropriately) tie it with Gmail will give Buzz a major leg up on services like Friendfeed that never made it mainstream.

But will it ever catch up with Facebook? That’s a much tougher road because Facebook has done a great job of gaining adoption across a wide range of demographics. And while there are many improvements that could be made to the interface, Facebook Pages offer a clean, simple way for news sites to promote their content and interact with readers. Facebook itself is making a push to get users to create personalized news channels that benefit both users and news sites.

So at least for now Facebook is the much stronger play.

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