Buzz (word-of-mouth) Marketing

Social Influencer. Source: Forbes on YouTube

Exhibit 13.11   Video: What is a Social Influencer. (Source: Forbes on YouTube). .

As mentioned earlier, the new media marks a shift from the unidirectional nature of communication in the past. Today, consumers, not marketers, generate the vast majority of content about products and services.

Their words are more persuasive than advertising. Amplified on social media, consumer opinions, reviews, advice, rants or complaints can become viral and spread — possibly yielding enormous gains or possibly causing immense damage.

These extraordinary opportunities and threats led to the inception of buzz marketing.

A buzz is created when something attracts attention initially from a small, core group of people. These individuals talk to their friends and acquaintances, who in turn tell their peers. Word spreads rapidly in this manner to constitute a “buzz”.

Marketers try to create word-of-mouth or catalyse the buzz through various techniques called buzz marketing. One commonly used approach is to enlist influential consumers, including analysts and bloggers, and allow them to “discover” the product in the hope that they will pass positive endorsement on to their peers. In this way, marketers seek to expose consumers to their brands.

For instance, as far back as 2003, P&G’s word-of-mouth marketing firm, Tremor (now a separate company), enlisted over 250,000 teen girls and 650,000 mothers (in the US), who qualified as “connectors” or “influencers”, i.e. persons with a social network that is 5 to 6 times larger than the average person’s, and with deep propensity to talk about ideas with that network. (Refer Exhibit 13.11 for an illustration of today’s influencer via a Forbes video).

In addition to generating beneficial buzz, marketers need to protect their brand and corporate reputation from harmful buzz. They do so through their representatives and brand ambassadors who step into conversations at internet forums and blogs, to speak on behalf of the brand and the organization.

Considering the importance of these influences, it comes as no surprise that companies are devoting considerable resources to buzz marketing. Dell for instance, according to company sources, is spending more on advocacy than on conventional media.

Besides the interference, this form of marketing is criticised mainly because it can be deceptive, particularly if the enlisted influencers do not disclose details of their relationship with the brand owners.

To conclude, here is some guidance on buzz marketing, sourced from The Anatomy of Buzz: How to Create Word of Mouth Marketing by Emanuel Rose:

  • Keep the messages simple, relevant, credible and newsworthy. Only then are they likely to spread across the internet.
  • Do not make claims that you cannot support.
  • Ensure that your brand ambassadors are well informed, and that they can articulate your messages with clarity.
  • Listen to the buzz, and glean insights from it.
  • Measure the buzz, assess its impact, and apply what you learn to improve your buzz marketing efforts.
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