Not to be confused with Google Buzz, AT&T Interactive has opened up the beta version of Buzz.com to the public today.
Previously only available by invitation, anyone can sign up for this latest social networking service that hopes to stand apart from an already crowded pool of recommendation and review sites.
Buzz is based on the concept of getting reviews and advice from friends rather than strangers. The service utilizes your existing social network circles (such as from Facebook) to create a forum for discussing local businesses.
One of the ways that Buzz.com is unique is that it reverses the search process a bit. Normally, when visiting a site like Urbanspoon or Yelp, you type in a couple keywords related to what you're searching (i.e. laundromat, French bistro, etc.), and you hope to find some decent reviews.
On Buzz, the user starts a conversation by asking a question (i.e. Where's the best sushi place in Brooklyn?) and awaits responses from his/her friends. Users can also build a list of favorite local establishments (stores, cafés, parks, etc.) with 160-character comments that your friends can look over.
Like most other websites these days, Buzz comes with Facebook Connect, so your results and actions can be immediately posted to your Facebook profile. This could be convenient, depending on whether or not you like all of your Internet footsteps to be traced so publicly.
I do agree that I am more likely to trust the recommendations of friends rather than strangers, but I have found plenty of useful information on local businesses by searching on Google and Yelp. Waiting for my friends to reply seems a bit passive. But given that there are so many similar review-centric sites out there, Buzz definitely has some unique qualities to it that could help it stick out. Are you interested in signing up?