Buzz Kill

Was you ever stung by a dead bee?Something happened tonight that made me question everything I’ve done with social media since I first joined Twitter in late 2006.
You know me – I’m a complete web whore. I sign up for every site, try every web app, use every service I can find. It’s my job, but I also love doing it. I believe in the Internet as a communication tool. I love trying the myriad new ways people are using it to connect and I believed that social media specifically had some magic new potential to bring us together.

When Google announced Buzz last year I was one of the first to jump on the bandwagon. I welcomed a competitor to Twitter that had the community features I loved in Friendfeed and Jaiku, and I thought Google had the best chance to create a second generation social network. I defended Google for its initial privacy stumbles and I began to use Buzz exclusively, replacing Twitter, Friendfeed, and Facebook. I built a following of over 17,000 people. I was happy.

Then last night I noticed that my Buzzes were no longer showing up on Twitter (I use a service called Buzz Can Tweet that has been pretty reliably rebroadcasting my Buzz posts to Twitter.) I looked more closely at my Buzz feed and noticed that there had been considerably less engagement over the past few weeks. Then I noticed that I wasn’t seeing my posts in my Buzz timeline at all. A little deeper investigation showed that nothing I had posted on Buzz had gone public since August 6. Nothing. Fifteen posts buried, including show notes from a week’s worth of TWiT podcasts.

Maybe I did something wrong to my Google settings. Maybe I flipped some obscure switch. I am completely willing to take the blame here. But I am also taking away a hugely important lesson.

No one noticed.

Not even me.

It makes me feel like everything I’ve posted over the past four years on Twitter, Jaiku, Friendfeed, Plurk, Pownce, and, yes, Google Buzz, has been an immense waste of time. I was shouting into a vast echo chamber where no one could hear me because they were too busy shouting themselves. All this time I’ve been pumping content into the void like some chatterbox Onan. How humiliating. How demoralizing.

Thank God the content I deem most important, my Internet and broadcast radio shows, still stand. I believe in what I’m doing there, and have been very fortunate to have found an audience. I’m pretty sure I would have heard from people if there had been 16 days of dead silence there. Hell, if we miss one show I get hundreds of emails. But I feel like I’ve woken up to a bad social media dream in terms of the content I’ve put in others’ hands. It’s been lost, and apparently no one was even paying attention to it in the first place.

I should have been posting it here all along. Had I been doing so I’d have something to show for it. A record of my life for the last few years at the very least. But I ignored my blog and ran off with the sexy, shiny microblogs. Well no more. I’m sorry for having neglected you Leoville. From now on when I post a picture of a particularly delicious sandwich I’m posting it here. When I complain that Sookie is back with Bill, you’ll hear it here first. And the show notes for my shows will go here, too.

Social media, I gave you the best years of my life, but never again. I know where I am wanted. Screw you Google Buzz. You broke my heart.

76 Replies to “Buzz Kill”

  1. I do agree that Microblogging has gotten in the way of real blogging, this has happened to me, too.  But I like Twitter, and it is the current king. People use it, friends use it. I do not feel Twitter is a waste of time.
    If you feel like Twitter is too fleeting, you should setup WordPress or whatever your CMS is to archive all your tweets here on your blog.
    I never understoon Google Buzz’s angle. I came to the realization very quickly after launch that it was nothing more than a place to read people’s Twitter and Facebook posts – and honestly who needs that?

  2. Well put! I think the simple truth is that there is an ocean of stuff to sift through on buzz, twitter, Facebook, Etc. Its much more simple to just go to the source, and know your getting it.

  3. Here. Here. Welcome back to Leoville. Time to make sure my RSS feed in Google Reader is still hooked up…

  4. This really is a terrible thing to hear. I run my own small blog, but due to lack of internet access where I am, my blog suffers. Twitter, Buzz, and Facebook are easier to access and update through my phone than my blog unfortunately.

  5. To be honest with you, I think that you were playing the media game but you forgot the social. Looking back to when I started following you on Twitter, it was when you were posting fresh, interesting but above all entertaining content such as your thoughts and opinions from China.
    In recent months the updates that I have seen tend to be more about the delivery method then the content. For example, an update will appear in my Twitter timeline, linking to Buzz which in turn led to friend feed which then led to one of the blogs. That is four sets of hoops that you are asking your readers to follow, with the end content (recently) being a check-in in foursquare. The more times that I follow that chain and meet with a lack of content, the less likely I am to give my attention in the future. 

  6. Leo, your experience with Buzz is a great reminder that even where we have so many micro-blogging/status posting options, the only site we have meaningful control over is our own site.  It has become almost unfashionable to focus on a blog but I can’t help but think that is the better option.  Rather post to your own blog in the first instance and have that content distributed across the social Web using whichever micro-blogging/update sites we prefer to use at that point in time as multiple points of contact for your original blog content.
    I still love Buzz but the seemingly poor level of engagement, even compared to something like FriendFeed in its day, is worrying and may mean Buzz’s demise like we saw Jaiku and even FriendFeed much of their momentum.

  7. I agree with Tino in that these social media tools are just that and not intended to replace your blog. Like any good tool, it needs to be used for the right application and more so be available to use. A hammer is a good tool for certain jobs, and it really stinks when you need one and don’t have one to use. I too was one of the first to get on the twitter bandwagon. For the longest time I didn’t get all the people around me making it a priority to tweat all the time for every moment of their lives. Later I realized, these tools had served a purpose. The purpose for me was to utilize as a tool to stream new content announcements or updates that I felt relevant to my community. Another purpose being the community itself. I have made some significant contacts via these social media networks.
    As far as the “no one cares or notices”, well I see these tools a lot like TV. This is funny because TV is always criticized and weighed against the internet because of the availability of content on the internet vs the live streaming of TV. Yes there is a string of thoughts, comments, buzzes, tweats, that one can revert back to, but with these social media networks, they grow to be so large, most do not have the time or the desire to sift through all of this “old” (although maybe only a few minutes old” content. Like TV, your tweats, facebook updates, buzzes, ect. for the most part, are only seen by those watching in the moment. These microblogging tools have only acted as the DVR of social media. Who has the time to record hundreds, if not thousands of broadcasts and then review them for relevant content.
    Fortunately the twitter community has found this a burden as well and you now have lists, hash tags, tweat deck (basically watch a wall full of TV’s) and many other tools to make it more manageable.
    Bottom line is that twitter, buzz, friendfeed, jaiku, the dead pounce, facebook, are only good for what you use them for. They are not a necessity but could be useful in keeping you connected to the network you intend to connect to some times.

  8. Aweome Leo. Unless you’re writing in your own blog or journal, your content can sometimes get lost within the service itself.
    Take Facebook, for example. I subscribe to, awesome storyteller on the radio. He does these great posts on Facebook, but most of his audience probably never sees them. They’re largely locked away from the rest of the internet! Imagine if he was doing them in his own blog! 
    That’s why I left Facebook. And that’s why I’ve since last week begun a policy of originating all content in my own blog, and simply linking to snippets of it on these other services.
    I hope to see more posts from you on Leoville in the future. Don’t be lazy 🙂

  9. You are right, the focus we need to give as bloggers is on our blogs. People notice consistency in your blog, but could really care less about your social media.

  10. Leo,
    I signed up for Buzz because someone else told me how great it was.  Sure, I started following a few people.  Then the person who convinced me to do it stopped.  So I stopped but then, you know, just like when you see your birthday presents and you try to shake the box to guess what it is, I went back.  I’ve been wholly unimpressed every since.  And I find it odd to see tweets there when I just read them on twitter.  Like what’s the point?

  11. Couldn’t agree more Leo. If you (or anyone else for that matter) post anything on Twitter or the other services, it’s more or less luck whether I read that post in a sea of other posts that constantly flood the user. If I do read it, I might even click the link right then and there. If not, it’s immediately forgotten, as it disappears into the oblivion with the 500 other posts that followed. The blog on the other hand I’ll add to Google Reader and I can read it whenever I want, and I can easily refer back to it later. Microblogging is great for last second announcements, or stuff you just want to push out as soon as possible. Also, while Twitter is hard to keep track of at times, Facebook is virtually impossible to follow IMHO. Stick with the blog and maybe announce interesting stuff on Twitter!

  12. Not to defend the social media too much here, but I have a couple issues with this…
    First, in your buzz/twitter feed you say you’d dropped off the face of the earth since August 6th, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen you on twitter since then.  I retweeted the “Welcome to the new decade…” thing after seeing it in your feed on the 14th, and I distinctly remember your flatcakes post on the 15th.  I don’t know what happened buzz-side, but are you sure you actually dropped off of twitter, where I assume the vast majority of your followers live?
    In other words, you note that your public-feed buzz followers stopped commenting, but wouldn’t many of these actually be people who clicked through to buzz from their twitter clients — really twitter followers who just use buzz when they want to comment on something?  At least, that’s the pattern of my twitter/buzz usage.  To them it wouldn’t be a case of “Leo disappeared!”, it would just be “I still see Leo, but it looks like buzz comments are broken, oh well”.
    More to the point, I think even if you did drop off the earth relative to those following you exclusively on buzz (and without access to your private feed), they may have assumed you were just taking a break.  There’s less expectation of regular content on something like twitter or buzz than there is with, say, a podcast.  People are less likely to complain.
    But like I said, not to defend the social media too much.  I look forward to hearing what you have to say, regardless of the medium.

  13. Why am I even typing here? Leo never checked Buzz to see what was going on. Never really conversed with fans on twitter ala kevin smith about your STAFF – HOW Did they NOT notice? They should be following EVERYTHING you do and post……It’s called social media for a reason – Maybe if you or your staff checked in daily to see what was going on – just sayin
    Now Leo If you are going to just do a blog – please Tweet it so that I know that you just did a post. Like Clayton… I know exactly was is coming up or what he is doing..

  14. A couple of points.
    I’m not sure about on Buzz, but on Twitter you seemed very one way – broadcasting but not engaging. For that reason I’m not sure that you ever really experienced social media as a ‘normal’ person would.
    Secondly, social media isn’t about the big guns like you. The beauty of it is that *everyone’s* voice is approximately equal: you’re just another voice in the crowd. If you go missing it’s not such a big deal. I think that’s a great strength, even if it is a little ego-shattering

  15. Leo, i am a huge fan and love your updates, but i use social media from internet stars(and even the president of the internet) like RSS feed in to what they are doing, i have TWiT shows all over my readers, and didn’t notice the lack of twits/buzz because i knew what was going on and didn’t notice the lack updates because i always had a constant stream of what is going on (mainly because of TnT), -Nate 

  16. I just signed in to buzz to check it out. It looked as though you quit posting. As much as I don’t like it, most of my friends, family, town, and local paper use facebook.

  17. @leolaporte don’t think it was a waste of time I just think you got lost in the noise for a bit, see @scobleizer 38,198 tweets

  18. Great! You can start by doing us a favor and remove that stupid ‘friend connect’ band at the bottom of each page, taking up my valuable screen space.

  19. I love all your content, Leo. You hold up a level of professionalism combined with a personal touch I’ve admired for years.
    I don’t know about the people on Buzz, Leo, but when you switched from Twitter to Google Buzz, we began to <i>expect</i> to see less of you on Twitter. You stopped engaging with us on Twitter a long time ago. 
    I don’t use Google’s services beyond search and translation. Google’s already got too much data about me from my searches and indexing. I turned off Buzz from the get-go. I also did not like the way Google Buzz seemed to reproduce entire articles instead of excerpts right within the Buzz post. 
    So I’ve ignored most everyone’s posts from Google Buzz for those reasons.
    By all means, Leo, do your soul-searching about social media and give us food for thought. Post your bloggings to Twitter and Google Buzz (didn’t you LEAVE Facebook?) and we’ll click-through. 
    But you needed to be engaged on Twitter in the first place for someone to notice you were gone. Otherwise, would you have even noticed if we <i>had</i> said something?

  20. Leo,  don’t be so hard on yourself.  It is much more difficult for people to notice that something DID NOT occurr than to recognize that something DID occurr.  If no one knows that a post was supposed to appear, no one will know that it is missing.

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