The Big Week Social News Had

For those of us stuck in piles of snow in D.C., social networks have been pretty helpful for letting us post messages such as, “Oh my God it’s still snowing,” sharing pictures and videos of snow, passing along blog posts written about other people  who are talking about snow, etc. It’s been part entertainment, part cabin-fever-combat, but it also helps beautifully illustrate two social media stories from the week.

First, Facebook got some notice for its new position in the world as a major news destination (news in this case being actual news, not how much snow is out your window). It’s now the fourth biggest traffic driver to mainstream news outlets out there, and it really shouldn’t be that surprising. Given the growth in usage of the publisher feature and how – even if we fought it the only way we know how, with Facebook groups – the news feed actually has become central, this is inevitable. There is critical mass and people with whom you likely want to share things.

The second social news story is buried within the hoopla around Google Buzz. The Buzz feature, announced yesterday, seemed to have “Google Reader Explosion” as its modus operandi. Everyone across tech, social media, mobile, and news blogs went nuts with the unveiling, and it made the iPad coverage look like a small gadget announcement. Why? Mainly because it’s easier to explain than Wave. Kidding, but only a little. This was just easier to grasp – it’s just a modified version of the other status sharing tools we’ve all come to use in the last few years. It’s part FriendFeed, Facebook, Twitter, and Google Reader – just built on a different social grid.

The difference with Buzz isn’t how it works (remember, that was Wave’s big problem), it’s who you are sharing these updates with. Gone are follows and friend approvals; instead, the network is the people with whom you e-mail frequently. The funny thing is how that may split the user base. Some (like me) fundamentally using Gmail for personal contacts and efforts (including this blog). Others use it as a main center of business. I’m much more likely to be willing to share than the latter group.

Between Facebook and Buzz, there are clearly a growing number of ways for us to share information and news – but the ability to create and report also grows significantly. Buzz may never catch on across the board, but it’s always possible since it’s ingrained into Gmail; it at least has a better chance of being used than Google’s last attempt. The Facebook news feed may truly be focused on news, both personal and journalistic. Either method, the future will certainly revolve around the audiences of these networks.

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