The Number One Reason Your Nonprofit Should Check Out Google BuzzYou’re probably wondering (like I’ve been for the past week) if your non-profit should be using Buzz. And I’ll agree with you – it’s not an easy decision.

Twitbook Baby?

At first glance, Google Buzz seems like a cross between Twitter and Facebook.

The Number One Reason Your Nonprofit Should Check Out Google Buzz

You have followers and following like on Twitter, and you can “like” and “comment” on posts like on Facebook. It almost seems like Google is copying both networks and maybe even acting like a spoiled brat.

But there are at least three things that make Buzz different from Facebook and Twitter:

  1. User Base – Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Buzz has an instant user base (over 176 million in December according to ComScore)  right out of the gate.
  2. Groups – Unlike Twitter and Facebook, you can create custom private groups using Contact Groups within Gmail. This allows you to create your own private stream with family, co-workers, or friends.
  3. Inbox – This is probably the biggest difference between Buzz and Facebook / Twitter. Buzz happens right within Gmail. This, by the way, could be a blessing and a curse (sharing unsolicited news about your nonprofit could feel invasive)

The Number One Reason Your Nonprofit Should Check Out Google Buzz

Buzz Unfail

There were also the concerns over privacy. As soon as a user turned on Buzz, you would automatically follow folks you email the most, which would then be displayed publicly in your Google Profile. That meant users had to unfollow people and/or spend time searching for a way to not display who they’re following on their Google Profile.

Buzzers made a big stink about this and Google quickly responded. In fact, this week they’re rolling out several tweaks to address user concerns. For example, you can now block people regardless of whether their Google Profile is public or private.

It’s also now much easier to make people you’re following private:

The Number One Reason Your Nonprofit Should Check Out Google Buzz

So Why Should My Nonprofit Buzz?

At this point, the opportunity for non-profits is not totally clear. Yes, there is a huge potential for increased exposure with Buzz, but only time will tell us how Gmail folks will actually use Buzz – and how that impacts your nonprofit. And yes, there is a potentially massive user base. But how many of those folks will continue to be active users?

However, one thing is clear:

Buzz is an opportunity for you to flex your “early adopter muscles”.

The world of social media is changing all around us with increasing speed. In order to vet opportunities quickly, your nonprofit needs to be able to quickly understand the functionality of new technology and quickly assess it’s business applications. Buzz gives you an opportunity to flex this muscle.

How To Check Out Buzz

  1. Get a gmail account, if you don’t have one already. You can start by following me, Stacey Monk, Beth Kanter, Amy RS Ward and Danielle Brigida.
  2. Learn how to use Buzz by reading How To Use Google Buzz.
  3. Watch a video on How To Use Buzz Strategically.
  4. Start thinking and talking about how Buzz will impact social media by reading by Geoff Livingston.
  5. If you have a blog, try adding a Google Buzz button to your blog posts. Measure how many people Buzz your posts compared to how they tweet them or share them on Facebook.
  6. Start asking very intelligent questions. For example, “How can Google Buzz allow us to connect differently with our supporters?”, “How is Buzz and other social media changing how our supporters share content?” or “How can our organization strengthen our ability to vet new technology like Buzz?”

So what do you think about Buzz? Please share in the comments below.


  1. Awesome article, John. I'm really trying to understand Buzz's place in the world and this helped a lot.

    I can especially see the benefit to those people already well entrenched with gmail. Instant audience, right in your inbox, etc.

    I have another perspective as I just signed up for gmail, literally the week before buzz came out so I have no contacts. In short, I kind of feel like I'm starting over–a feeling that many nonprofits might have so why not stick with apps like Tweetdeck which seem to do a good job of bringing everything under one roof.

    But I definately think it's something worth exploring. Buzz may be great for national/international nonprofits, but not for local. Or maybe it will be good way to reach a younger demographic that more often has gmail accounts. I'm just speculating. Thanks for getting me thinking this morning, John!

    1. Joe – One thing to keep in mind is that you can follow Buzz users (if
      they've opted into being followed), so even if you don't have any
      emails, nonprofits can get benefit simply by having a public profile
      and Buzz.

  2. John thanks for the information. I've just started using BUZZ and will check out the other resources you pointed out in your article to learn more about it. Your baby analogy is very funny, nice!

  3. Right now Buzz just seems really noisy — maybe that's because I was automatically following one of the noisiest people on Buzz (Louis Gray). I just unfollowed him, and I'm hoping that less noise will help me see more utility.

      1. I'll probably follow you back sooner than later. I just need to cut down on the noise a little bit to figure out the utility of the tool. Your 1500+ followers are making it hard to sort it all out at the moment. :)

        1. You mean 2000+. :)

          One way is to make a filter for “Buzz from Louis Gray” or “Buzz from FirstName LastName” and have that go out of your in box. All my Buzz content goes to a different folder altogether.

          1. Yeah, I saw you posted something on that earlier. I need to figure out how to filter / sort Buzz the same way I do with my Google reader. I have all my RSS feeds sorted into folders, which makes things really easy to prioritize and sort.

          2. I've heard great things about Feedly, and it's great that they've now added a Google Chrome extension. One of the main reasons that I use Google Reader is because its browser agnostic. I flip back and forth between browsers here at home, and I'm forced to use IE at work. Additionally, Reader allows me to read my feeds on the browsers on my blackberry. (It wouldn't let me reply to your comment on Feedly.)

  4. For an organization that doesn't have a gmail account, do you think it is sensical to create one to use Buzz? Or would that be irrelevant if the org doesn't want to use gmail for emailing?

    Related, have you heard any case studies from people or organizations using Google Mail for Apps if Buzz is integrated therein?

    1. I believe that @dosomething is using Google Mail for Apps. I know that they heavily use the Google tools. I'm looking forward to see how they use Buzz for their organizing.

  5. .. LOL..

    “If Facebook and Twitter had sex, their baby would be like Google Buzz”… is that a John Haydon quote.. this quote made my day here.. lol..

    Have not got into to the Buzz yet.. so will digg into your article here..

    Not figured out if Google Buzz is meant to replace Google Wave, or is it just something Google has started to nurture Google Wave…

    And I am not a big fan of messing this up with my Gmail.. well with this info I have to check it out more..

    And one question here John, where does that fancy bar in the bottom of your blog comes from.. I kind of liked that..

    Cheers.. Are

  6. Hi John…

    Thinks Disqus might censored my original comment.. tehe.. since I used your amazing quote here…

    Guess Google Buzz is the backdoor to Google Wave… since it did not create any Tidal Wave…

    Have not got the hole Buzz yet.. and don't like to much that Google mixed it up with Gmail.. what's up with that?..

    But some good tips here.. will bookmark it and see what I do..

    Ohh.. asked about your fancy little bar in the bottom of your blog.. Kinda liked it.. so where does that come from?

    Cheers… Are