Google made quite a few mistakes when it launched its Gmail-based social network, Buzz. Some mistakes, namely those related to privacy, overshadowed smaller mistakes.
One of those smaller mistakes: not giving publishers an easy way to encourage users to share their content on Buzz. With Facebook, Digg and Twitter 'share' buttons being almost ubiquitous across the web today, the fact that Google didn't release a 'share' button of its own is perhaps additional evidence of just how rushed the Buzz release was.
One developer came up with a crude solution: use Google Reader. This became quite popular but it was hardly popular. In my own experience, for instance, it doesn't always successfully introduce content into Buzz.
Thankfully, Google hasn't given up on Buzz and has finally developed an official solution for publishers looking to promote their content through Buzz:
- The Post to Buzz button is a Digg/Facebook/Tweetmeme-like button that allows publishers to let their users share content via Buzz. The button provides for several customization options, such as the inclusion of a counter which displays how many times a particular piece of content has been 'buzzed up'. Publishers wanting to create their own buttons or links can alternatively pass a number of parameters to http://www.google.com/buzz/post.
- The Follow on Buzz button permits publishers who have a Buzz presence to link to their Buzz profile. This is something that was possible previously; Google has simply supplied an 'official' graphic.
Although it remains to be seen what the future holds for Google Buzz, the fact that unofficial Buzz buttons were added to so many websites indicates that publishers are willing to see what Buzz can do for them, even if consumer usage of Buzz doesn't rival that of other services for which 'share' buttons have been popularized.
Now that Google has released an official solution, it would be nice to see Google try to do some unique things with it. For instance, it could take advantage of its pre-existing relationship with publishers to increase the value offered to them through the Buzz buttons. For instance, it could give publishers the ability to link their Buzz buttons to their Google Analytics accounts.
While little things like this certainly aren't going to change Google's fortunes with Buzz anytime soon, given Google's poor start, focusing on getting little things right probably isn't such a bad idea.