I just went through my Google Buzz stream to see when I first posted there.  It looks like my first post was the same day as my first comment – February 11, 2010.  Most of my early posts weren’t getting many comments early in the game.  It seemed like there was already a community that knew each other and they were all interacting within their group.  I also remember thinking that there was a significant connection between the early adopters of Buzz and FriendFeed.  But I posted anyway and began commenting on other posts.  Soon enough people were doing the same with my posts and the “Buzz” was really drawing me in.

At some point early in the game, there was at least one bad egg that was being abusive to people.  Pretty soon verbal fights were breaking out all over the place and I can remember thinking that the place was filled with a bunch of kids with bad attitudes and too much time on their hands.  I was ready to just drop it and walk away, which would have disappointed me since I wanted to see Buzz succeed.  But I decided to stop following all the people who were involved and/or posting on topics I deemed too personal (my interests in Buzz were to primarily post professional topics).  Cleaning up my Buzz stream worked and I was once again fully active in the community, and a great one at that!

My desire to see Buzz succeed was driven by a feeling that the existing social platforms were either too personal (Facebook) or based on broadcasting and headline blasting (Twitter).  I felt that Facebook was fine for sharing photos with the family and Twitter was good for posting headlines for news I can relate to professionally.  However, Buzz seemed to be the engagement platform all the so called social media gurus/ninjas talked about.  They’ve been boasting about how businesses need to seek out and engage with their communities.  What better way to do this that within a platform that truly facilitates thorough conversations?  Buzz was perfect!  Well, maybe not.

So now months were going by and Buzz is starting to grow, while Google tries to fix some bugs (and a privacy issue here and there).  By the summer Buzz seems to be the perfect platform to discuss topics that are relevant to me, primarily industry related topics.  I’m finding as my posts become more popular, the amount of time needed to respond is growing tremendously.  Not only are the number of responses time consuming, but since we’re not limited to SMS size posts (i.e. Tweets), Buzz users tend to be extremely thorough in their comments.  Thorough comments usually require equally thorough comments if you are trying to explain a point.

But, I got into the groove with Buzz and really started to enjoy it.  Their small, but dedicated team was doing a great job jumping on little bugs and getting them fixed.  Hats off to the crew responsible for making Buzz happen.

But that wasn’t enough.  From my perspective (which will be argued by those active on Buzz now), Buzz lost momentum and started to deteriorate a few months ago.

Here’s why from my perpective:

1.  IMO, one of Buzz’s weaknesses is the community itself. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed engaging with most people there on most topics….except the topic of GOOGLE.  You had better duck and stay down if you ever say a bad word about Google on Buzz.  The community over defends Google, sometimes to extremes that seem ridiculous.  Now, Google is lucky to have such a strong following as any company would.  However, in a social environment, too much pro anything is a big turnoff for many (including myself).

2.  Integration with gmail is a negative to enough people.  Yes, logically, it’s just another account and people don’t have to use gmail itself.  However, perception ruled on this one and Buzz needed it’s own home, separated from gmail…never happened.

3. The mobile (Android) app is confusing at best.  It’s a bit tricky to explain if you’ve never used it (good odds on that), but you have to bounce back and forth between the app and the mobile web UI in order to be fully using Buzz on your mobile.  It’s also virtually unusable when posting links.  This app progressed quickly early on, then just stopped getting better quite a few months ago.

4.  Complete disconnect between the popular tech media and Buzz users.  Motivations aside for a moment, the tech folks would knock the service for usability, privacy issues and the Buzz community would be dumbfounded by their lack of complete acceptance.  Buzz users started telling the naysayers they weren’t using Buzz the right way…that they were “doing it wrong”.  Well, from my experience, telling people they are doing something wrong is surely going to turn them away.  The service better be easy to use and understand, particularly for early adopter, tech media types…or you as the service provider are the one doing it wrong.

5.  Poor cross-service distribution (push) functionality. Sure, it was easy to import Twitter headline blasts, but sloppy to export buzz to Twitter.  The best solution is to go through FeedBurner, which can take hours to chron and also truncates posts way too early in the character count.  So, basically, most Buzz -> Twitter posts were incomplete headlines.

6.  Google itself let Buzz go. I’m convinced that they decided a long time ago to drop Buzz and distance the company from the service.  Why else would a company time after time ignore opportunities to use their new service as a PR medium and instead post directly to Twitter?  If Twitter was where they wanted the message, they still could have started with Buzz.  Why else would we not see Googlers flooding the service in mass?  Why else would the heads of the company not bother posting anything, including the guy running their social program??  Every company needs to put a little PR and marketing behind their products, including Google.

There are also numerous usability issues that should have been addressed along the way.  However, all would have been just fine if the company stood behind this product and gave it the time and resources it deserved.

BTW, I still go back to Buzz once and a while because I wish it would turn around.  I keep hoping Google has something up their sleeve that will incorporate Buzz.  It seems less and less likely as time goes on.