Buzz Marketing: the power of word of mouth among customers

In the world we live in, the importance of web marketing and social media increases immensely. Users are more connected, informed, and much more demanding. But how do you increase information traffic and influence purchasing decisions?

Always present and never out of fashion, in this article you will discover how word of mouth goes beyond its standard definition, becoming a fundamental resource for marketing in the digital era.

To get a first idea of how buzz marketing works, take a look at the online campaign “Inspire Fiber launched by Red Bull in 2013.

What is Buzz Marketing

We all know what marketing means, but how many have heard of buzz marketing? First of all, what comes to mind when you hear the word buzz? The term is onomatopoeic, of English origin, and clearly evokes the buzz of bees, a metaphor for the collection of voices that arise around a particular topic. More precisely, buzz marketing is a marketing technique based on the mechanism of word of mouth. It means being able to generate interest and attention toward a specific brand through the use of specific promotional activities on blogs, forums, and social media. The mechanism behind buzz marketing is precisely to generate conversations within online communities, in a spontaneous and uncontrollable manner. Users, like bees, share experiences, exchange opinions, and recommend products and services to their peers, creating a continuous “buzz.” In practice, word of mouth directs consumers’ attention to a particular product/service, encouraging them to share information on social media in record time.

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How does Buzz Marketing work?

Stealth buzz marketing is a captivating strategy that orchestrates intrigue and excitement around new products with limited budgets. It relies on sparking discussions through visuals like graphics and GIFs with unique angles or controversial themes. The magic is amplified by influencers acting as brand advocates, fueling conversations and engagement. This fusion of buzz marketing, social media dynamics, and influencer collaboration cultivates a “Fear Of Missing Out” (FOMO) effect. The engagement ripple effect entices more participants, and social media platforms amplify viral campaigns, boosting brand awareness significantly.

Buzz Marketing, Viral Marketing, or Word of Mouth?

At this point, the question naturally arises among the experts: what’s the difference between buzz marketing, viral marketing, and word of mouth?

It might seem obvious, but in reality, we are talking about three distinct communication strategies, linked to each other only when the web marketing campaign begins.

BUZZ MARKETING

 As seen, buzz marketing is essentially word of mouth triggered by an unconventional online marketing campaign. It falls within the realm of promotional actions that involve the use of spontaneous social sharing solutions, without solicitations, and is generally more cost-effective than the traditional display advertising that characterizes mass marketing.

WORD OF MOUTH (WOM)

This is the “word of mouth” by definition, the “buzz” par excellence. It’s a form of “offline” communication autonomously managed by consumers. It arises from the informal exchange of opinions and information among users who are not driven by commercial purposes, thus considered more reliable compared to the traditional channels used by businesses. Unlike buzz marketing, word of mouth doesn’t always arise spontaneously. Operators, therefore, take action by employing specific marketing campaigns to encourage consumers to talk about the brand or product through strategies known as WORD OF MOUTH MARKETING (WOMM).

VIRAL MARKETING

Viral marketing also falls under the category of unconventional marketing. It encompasses all the “online” activities that web professionals engage in within forums, blogs, and social networks, strategically and intentionally planning the activation of mechanisms for the word-of-mouth spread of advertising messages. Typically, brands utilize Ambassadors or Influencers to encourage online sharing campaigns.

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guide on social media marketing

How to do Buzz Marketing

So, what do we choose among viral marketing, word of mouth, and buzz marketing? The goal is to influence the user’s purchasing decisions. Let’s ask ourselves why should I buy this product even if I don’t feel the need? Why choose this brand over another? Moving past the era of one-way messages (billboards, Yellow Pages listings, national networks, and so on), today the consumer has an active role in the advertising campaign. The community becomes the heart and engine of buzz marketing formulas: whether for free or compensation, out of deep product experience or participation in events, they contribute to spreading the message firsthand. Before understanding how to implement an online buzz marketing campaign, let’s take a look at the 7 principles by Panos Mourdoukoutas and George J. Siomkos in The Seven Principles of WOM and Buzz Marketing: Crossing the Tipping Point (2009).

buzz marketing role

  1. Begin with the consumer (start from the consumer)
  2. Be innovative
  3. Target the right group
  4. Create the right message
  5. Find the right environment
  6. Launch a WOM Campaign
  7. Turn WOM into Buzz

Turn WOM into Buzz

Let’s focus on the last principle. Just like with all marketing operations, we need to consider innovation, and identify the target and mission. However, once the message in line with our brand/product is defined, how can we increase the “swarm” of users and their “buzz“? You’ll be interested to know that, unlike conventional word of mouth strategies, the key difference lies in the pool of potential online users. According to the 2016 Eurispes report, only 3% of Italians do not use the Internet, while the US agency Forrester Research, specializing in online market research, identified 6 categories of social media users.

  • Creators, the “creators” who produce content on blogs, websites, videos, podcasts
  • Critics, the “critics” who comment and post reviews online (e.g., Amazon)
  • Collectors, the “collectors” who gather and categorize content, vote for videos, or tag pages and photos
  • Joiners, the “participants,” people who join communities/social networks, create a profile, and follow other users
  • Spectators, the “spectators” who participate passively, only read online content without reviewing or commenting
  • Inactives, the “inactives,” whether online or offline, do not engage in social networks and communities

Keeping this ranking in mind, it’s needless to say that the percentage of Spectators and Inactives decreases year by year, while Creators and Critics are increasingly present on the web. Many consult Google, blogs, forums, and social media before making significant purchases. Many, following buzz marketing strategies, create multimedia content on social networks or their personal pages, making them available to the online community. There’s a growing desire to gather information and create quality posts, videos, and tags.

The rules of a “Buzz” Campaign

  • Increase brand awareness: establish institutional profiles within communities or forums, create brand communities, corporate blogs, etc.
  • Identify Influencers and Ambassadors, the most frequented discussion platforms, and the most interesting subjects
  • Build authority and popularity and engage in a dialogue with responsible managers of social places to generate effective word of mouth
  • Generate interest in a product/service during its launch through tryvertising activities (the good old “try before you buy”)
  • LISTEN, LISTEN, AND LISTEN AGAIN. Monitor the level of user online sharing (thanks to tools like Brian Solis’ Social Media Landscape)
  • KEYWORDS, carefully select keywords that will define the post, blog, or video structure as semantically coherent with the reference social place. Verify the keyword’s visibility (SERP), authority, specialization, popularity (number of visits), target audience, and so on.

(For more details on the importance of keywords and how to use relevant tools, click on the following link)

brands that use buzz marketing

  • Once users are identified, make them “spontaneously” become Ambassadors of your brand through email marketing campaigns (sending informative documents, event invitations, product/service buzzkits)
  • If Ambassadors agree to share the offer, analyze the results of the buzz marketing campaign by examining the number of brand-related posts, the number of visitors, the quantity and quality of comments, and external links posted by users outside the socialplace
  • LAST BUT NOT LEAST, verify the authority of forums, blogs, and fan pages. Fake accounts and agencies created to generate likes, followers, and shares can lead to the loss of users and online SERP position

How to Spark Word of Mouth on Communities and Social Networks

Social Media

From Facebook to Google, from Linkedin to Twitter and Pinterest, major Social platforms provide ample space for customized layouts, graphic elements, and brand-consumer interactions. Building a positive reputation involves active engagement with your audience through initiatives, contests, and activities that encourage users to leave comments, use hashtags, and share content. Each platform is unique, so it’s advisable to avoid duplicating content and instead diversify visual and communicative approaches. Pay attention to the number of “likes” and fans on your page; having a low count can be risky unless your page is new.

Now you might be wondering: what are some examples of successful word-of-mouth strategies?

Terranova is a brand that has implemented an effective Buzz marketing strategy on Facebook: whenever a fan clicked on a clothing item’s photo, the price would drop by 5 cents. Pretty amazing, right? On the other hand, Stradivarius launched an initiative on Instagram, inviting fashion enthusiasts to post pictures of themselves wearing branded outfits in exchange for followers and visibility. Leading the way, Ikea decided to give away furniture showcased in photos posted on their fanpage to the first users who successfully “tagged” themselves.

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Blog

Blogs can also play a crucial role in a Buzz marketing campaign. Generally authoritative in the eyes of consumers, blogs come in various types: personal, niche-focused, informative, network-based, or blogs managed by influencers and celebrities. A key tip? The blog or forum where you’re promoting your product or service should be Google-friendly and relevant to your brand’s theme. Don’t underestimate the impact of negative feedback: the boundary between buzz and spam is delicate, so focus on diverse and authentic comments. To prevent being flagged, consider including links to videos, your website, or the product itself, and encourage community members to get engaged.

In addition to numerous initiatives by Burger King through the Subservient Chicken website, one of the earliest examples of Buzz marketing is Nokia’s campaign launched in 2002 to promote the innovative camera phone 3650. The mobile phone giant identified 10 bloggers aged 18 and above who were photography enthusiasts, inviting them to use the phone for 2 months. Each was asked to take photos without the obligation to post or share them online. The result? Satisfied with the product, the young bloggers promoted the phone on their blogs, creating a buzz and positive feedback.

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Youtube

One of the key elements of Buzz marketing is represented by videos. It’s around Youtube that a series of word-of-mouth-based marketing and advertising campaigns revolve. Beyond the production cost, these practices are virtually cost-free for the company. Once the target audience, mostly young, is identified, the spread and resonance of videos happen almost naturally. Youtube is the realm of emulation and parody. Imitations of celebrities and well-known personalities, mockery, and more only serve to increase the resonance of the advertised product. An example is the Youtube contest Can’s Professional (the can professionals) sponsored by Coca-Cola, in which users film themselves throwing a can into the trash. Also worth mentioning is Nintendo’s video campaign, which showed the fun of playing with the Wii Fit by featuring a girl playing. Among them all, as mentioned at the beginning of the article, let’s not forget the “Inspire Fibra” initiative launched by Red Bull, aimed at involving users of their community in creating song lyrics for rap idol Fabri Fibra. The contest invited fans and more to compete creatively by submitting their videos with their ideas to redbull.it/inspirefibra, generating a high amount of online buzz and sharing. Now that you know what BUZZ MARKETING is and how it works, there’s one last rule to keep in mind: respect the coherence and transparency of the message, and users will be the first to reward you.  

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