How to create a buzz

Getting people to take notice of your brand is like banging your head against the wall; there's so much going on out there that nobody is taking a blind bit of notice. How can you create some buzz?

by Alexander Garrett
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Know what it is. Creating buzz around a product means getting it talked about, whether that is through word of mouth, viral marketing or other techniques.

Define your objectives. That could be generating sales, loyalty or awareness, but don't generate buzz for the sake of it. 'You need a call to action,' says Sharon Richey, chief executive of BEcause Brand Experience.

Listen first. Molly Flatt, word-of-mouth evangelist at agency 1000heads, says: 'Find out who is having conversations and about what. Often, good strategies come from listening, because that's how you find out how your product can fit into people's lives.'

Experience is key. 'What you want is people who feel excited about the product and who share that,' says Malcolm Faulds, senior vice president of marketing at word-of-mouth agency BzzAgent. 'We don't want people to review products they haven't tried.' For this reason, tangible products work better than intangible brands, and it's product performance that often generates the buzz.

Target influencers. 'We score people on the strength of how influential they are, how much they participate in creating content and whether they have the right shopping history,' says Faulds.

Start the conversation. Richey says: 'A product experience is a great way to start the conversation. If you create an opportunity for people to talk to highly placed and knowledgeable brand ambassadors it becomes much more of a talking point.'

Online isn't everything. It has been estimated that 90% of word-of-mouth recommendations take place offline, and face-to-face advocacy has been shown to be more powerful than a thumbs-up on social media.

You can't control the conversation. Buzz is not just another way to amplify your own marketing messages, it's about what users and consumers really think. 'It's not your message that matters, it's theirs,' says Flatt.

Stealth is bad for your health. Undercover agents covertly plugging your wares are no longer acceptable. 'Social media has made us all savvier and now it is all about transparency and authenticity,' says Faulds. Product advocates should be upfront about it and give their honest opinion.

Measure what's important. Like all marketing, creating buzz will need to show a return on investment. Use trackers and pre and post-campaign studies to measure the volume, content and impact you achieve.

Do say: 'You are being offered an exclusive opportunity to experience our exciting new product - and tell all your friends about it.'

Don't say: 'This is the script we want you to follow when you start a conversation with your network.'

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