Did you know about the hot cake in town? I bet you already. Yes, you are right! It’s Google Buzz which is creating quite a stir among social media enthusiastics, bloggers, celebrities, friends, geeks, nerds, carrots and beans. It’s only about a week since the launch of Google Buzz, but you won’t find a peanut who is not on Buzz. Excitement is but obvious, it’s the much-hyped “twitter-killer” product from Google everybody was so long waiting for. Did I like it? Well, I am not (yet!) a die-hard fan of micro-blogging so I took little longer to find its features and use them. I have kind of mixed feelings about the Buzz, on one hand it is well integrated with Gmail, does good job of keeping all your social presence at one place and provides a simple interface. But on the other hand, much needed features like controlling buzz posts to Gmail account, sharing posts within only certain group of people only etc. were missing (at the time of launch atleast).
As soon as the Google Buzz arrived, suddenly the web was flooded with the articles reviewing (or cursing!) it. Many people started to look for hacks such as creating filter to keep buzz posts from appearing in your inbox. Google has already incorporated some features based on user feedback and will continue to do so. It will take some time to grow Buzz in a matured product, but as of today, what you can do to get the maximum out of Buzz? Which features you should be looking for? How can you use Buzz effectively and with minimum hassle? Stay with me and I will walk you through the features which I found particularly useful:
Let’s say it’s your wedding anniversary (do you remember it, wow!) and you celebrated it by having a nice candle-light dinner. Now it’s not a national news (although given the quality of news these day, it can be!) and you may not want to share it with everyone who is following you. In such case, what you can do is create a group of people, let’s say your closest friends, from your contacts and give it a cool name. Now you can choose visibility of your post to be Private and select Group name you just created. Doing so will post your updates only to the list of people who are in the group. Technically the feature is similar to what you call List in Twitter, but in a different manner since List allows you to group together updates from relevant people and view them where as in Buzz you can share updates with group.
2. Finding Buzz
Finding all your buzzes is simple. Just go to your Inbox and enter “is:buzz” without quotes in the search box above. It will list out all the buzzes you have created. Apart from that, you can distinguish the unread buzz by the yellow bar of the left hand side of each buzz. In addition if you want to find buzz from specific person, you can just type “from:person-name” in Search Buzz box or click on the person’s name directly. If you just want to see buzz from the people to whom you are not following, you can just click on Search Buzz without typing anything and it will show you the Public Buzz i.e. people buzzing all around the globe in general.
3. Disable Buzz Posts to Gmail
As per the latest post on Gmail’s official blog, there will be an additional Settings tab for Buzz (ahh, finally!) from where you can control whether you want the posts to be displayed in your Inbox. I don’t have this feature yet in my Gmail. Till that time, you can use the hack which LifeHacker posted about.
4. Site Feed Integration
Now despite all the lameness, this is one cool feature which Buzz has incorporated. Google Buzz allows you to connect any site to Buzz and if the site does have an RSS feed, it displays feed updates as posts on Buzz. If you want detailed instruction on how you can connect your blog with Buzz, check this nice post on GeekWord.
Sometimes, you may have considered the possibility of turning off your ears as per your wish (for example, when your wife is yelling at you!). Well, unfortunately that wish is still a wish, but hey, Google has created a cool way to turn off post updates being sent to your Inbox by mute feature in Buzz. If you don’t want to see updates for any specific post in your Gmail Inbox, you can simply click the Mute this post option in the menu near Comment button. Once the post is muted, you won’t see it in your Buzz or Inbox. To find out the posts which are muted, goto Inbox and type “is:muted” in search box to find out all the posts that have been muted. You can open any post and click on Unmute this post to bring it back to life.
6. Quick Replies
Well, if I want to write something to a specific person, why should I bother to keep it for public display? Google allows you to send message to specific person by writing @person-name in your post. Google’s auto-complete feature will then suggest the gmail address of the person and you can send the reply right away. However, this feature is only useful when you have someone who is in your Gmail contacts.
I am a big lazy person when it comes to computers. I am no fan of using mouse when the task can be done by keyboard. To me, it saves a lot of time. If you are geeky or lazy (or both) like me, you may want to check out the keyboard shortcuts which we can use in Google buzz. Below are some of them which I found particularly useful. If you find them difficult to remember, you can just press Shift and forward slash (/) and Google will promptly show you list of keyboard shortcuts.
a/r Comment on post
f Email the post
j/n Move one post down
k/p Move one post up
m Mute the post
o Expand the post
shift+L Toggle between Like/Unlike post
You can also check out the unofficial Google Buzz Cheat sheet and view some more keyboard shortcuts.
Did you find the above list useful? If yes, please let me know by leaving comments below. Also, if you can find any other interesting features in Google Buzz, you are welcome to share that.