Buzz and Viral Marketing – The Tools For Creating New Sales Leads
19 October 2014 2 Comments
Some of my contacts who have entered into the Online and Social Media area, are not happy with the results they get. They are trying to expand their online reach and mentions, knowing that the more exposure they have, the more likely the audience will decide to buy. Despite the effort they are putting in, they somehow are not able to attract sufficient audience to reach their online goals. Let’s see how we can solve their challenges with a different approach – buzz and viral marketing.
While these may seem like average viral videos, all these videos were brilliant marketing schemes that rocked the internet and brought a little slice of fame to the companies that produced them. In some cases, the results were EPIC! Who says you can’t plan to go viral?
Buzz marketing is what makes viral marketing work
The connection between buzz and viral marketing is not always very clear. Some viral marketing campaigns operate by constructing the appearance of buzz, while other have as their primary goal the natural cultivation of buzz. Buzz is defined as the general positive feelings people have about your product or service created by hearing about it from individuals deemed important in certain social circles. If your product has good buzz it’s widely anticipated and often talked about among friends in a positive way. Basically, buzz and viral marketing are both ways of getting your customers to do the work of advertising themselves.
Viral marketing succeeds by making your consumers spread word of your product themselves, generating widespread awareness of the advertising campaign. Buzz and viral marketing are therefore connected because buzz is necessary for viral marketing to succeed. In essence, buzz is what makes viral marketing work.
Buzz and viral marketing existed before the Internet, but it was often difficult to get these campaigns started without the interconnectivity available online. Word of mouth advertising is spread rapidly when people are able to share information with friends. A good approach for viral marketing campaigns is spreading your buzz by contacting a small group of influential individuals who might already have an interest in your product. Getting these influential people to give your product positive reviews can spread positive associations with your product to a much wider crowd and generate a lot of buzz quickly.
Your product or service can also have bad buzz. This means that the consumer’s reaction to your product is negative, and that this negative reaction is widely mentioned and spread. An example of how bad buzz is a big problem is in the case of holiday facilities. People often rely on the recommendations of friends to determine which place to go on holidays. A single offhand remark about a holiday resort being bad from a friend can convince an interested person to go somewhere else.
One benefit of using buzz and viral marketing online is that you can easily see the effects by looking at blogs, forums, and social networks. Demonstrating whether or not your product has good buzz is called buzz monitoring. This service also allows you to establish where efforts to spread the viral marketing campaign must be pushed harder. Looking at which communities are most susceptible to certain types of viral marketing allow you to launch even more effective future campaigns as well.
Three areas in which buzz and viral marketing will result most effective
- Brand and Product Awareness – User generated content, mentions and recommendations are more influential on the purchase decisions of your customers than any traditional corporate advertising. Smart marketers were early adopters and began leveraging those influential recommendations and mentions. Brands with large and powerful competition seem to be almost unable to compete in the long run
- Product Launch Management – Product launches are peak stress times for your product managers. It becomes harder and harder to cut through the noise from your competitors. Why not engage with your existing customers, advocates, friends of your company and business partners?
- Event Marketing – Organizing an event and getting as many as attendees as possible often depends on a strong mix of email campaigns and traditional online ads. Wouldn’t it be better, and much more attractive, if your contacts, customers, business partners and business friends could easily share the event news with their contacts and colleagues?
Technology brands like Microsoft or IBM with a large product portfolio are deploying the business partner model to create product awareness. In my opinion, these brands should also buzz about their products, it would be a benefit to both the brand and the business partner.
Five best practices for buzz and viral marketing
Wharton professor Jonah Berger has made the best attempt to date in researching and defining what characteristics are often found in a viral piece of content. In his book “Contagious: Why Things Catch On”, Berger outlines the comprehensive STEPPS system:
- Social Currency – People enjoy sharing things that compliment them, either by making them look “in the know” or by showcasing their good taste or opinion on something
- Triggers – Reading Berger’s book, you’ll be surprised to hear about how often very common brands are talked about. That’s because some topics or brands or products have more common triggers
- Emotion – “When we care, we share,” or in other words, people tend to share content that evokes a strong emotional reaction. Surprisingly, the most viral pieces of online content didn’t focus on low-energy emotions like “sadness”, but on high-energy emotions like “awe”, “anger” and “anxiety”
- Public – In essence, social proof. People need to see others doing something to easily embrace it. As psychologist Robert Cialdini revealed in this book Influence, sometimes people “fake it before they make it” to achieve this
- Practical Value – Great news for content marketers, practically useful material was shown to be highly viral. People like sharing “news you can use” because they want to help others and look good for doing so
- Stories – Research suggests that trying to persuade people by telling them stories does indeed work. The question is why? Because if we know why, we can make the stories we tell more persuasive. Stories work so well to persuade us because, if they’re well told, we get swept up in them, we are transported inside them. Also, when concentrating on a story people are less aware that they are subject to a persuasion attempt: the message gets in under the radar
Now it’s your turn
What, if any, has been your experience with buzz and viral marketing? Use this article as a guideline and share your experience or efforts in the comments.