Google Buzz. It's not every day that a major social site is launched. I wanted to find a way to find my friends quickly, and gain many followers. I started by looking into popular users and finding friends we have in common. It was pretty tedious, but I noticed I could add as many people as I wanted. So I built a script that would auto-follow everyone in someone's list. The idea was people would see that I was following them, and some of them would follow back.I had some free time this weekend, so instead of going to party, I decided to look into
It worked much better than I expected! I've grown from 25 followers to more than 2,700 in three days. This places me in the top 10 most followed Google Buzz users, ahead of Michael Arrington, Loic Le Meur, Google VP Bradley Horowitz, Orli Yakuel and Adam Hirsch.
The Power of Friends
There is a thriving and active community on Buzz. The most followed user is currently the social media blog Mashable, with 17,000-plus followers. Many of the early adopters seem to have already made the switch, to the point that I've noticed a significant drop of activity from friends on Twitter.
When I started using the service and saw that I only had a handful of contacts, I was quite disappointed. No matter what I posted, I received very few replies. It was like talking in a vast ocean of emptyness.
I wanted to see what the service was really like, and decided to engage as many users as I could. I thought this would be an interesting experiment, and also felt very excited by the idea of joining a new community, especially if I could become one of the first power users.
I find it very difficult to communicate on Twitter. To me, it often felt like a one-sided discussion, where superstar users with an agenda would promote their company or consulting business - basically, a competition to get retweets and @ mentions. Most of my attempts to have smart discussions were either constrained by the character limit, the fact that you would only see the latest messages, or the lack of threaded comments. In a way, Twitter is very much about right now, which makes it difficult to keep track of.
I remembered how in the early days of Twitter, Robert Scoble followed every user who followed him, which brought him a lot of users. As many power users know, Facebook has the 5,000 friends limit, and Twitter has the 2,000 user limit, which gets lifted after some time. Buzz has no such limit at the moment.
So I set myself the very daft and unrealistic goal of being to Buzz what Robert Scoble is to Friendfeed. As I learned this weekend, following several thousands of people is a valid strategy to engage a large amount of users, but it is also a double-edged sword. There is of course no way anyone can actually follow that many people. This is a shame, as there are some users whose updates I care about more than the others. This would be fixed with the support of groups or lists, however.
Approximately 10% of the people you follow will follow you back, even if they don't know you. Interestingly, these users will engage in the discussion, comment, and like your stories, much more so than on Facebook and Twitter. However, this could be due to the novelty aspect.
I appreciate the service much more now that I have a considerable following. There is always someone who will be interested in what I post, what I care about. In my opinion, this is true social media.