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May 06, 2004

BzzAgent – Buzz or Buzzt?

Katherine over at Decent Marketing has some HMOs (hot marketing opinions) on BzzAgent. BzzAgent is a company that generates buzz for client’s products by incentifying qualified BzzAgents to spread the word. (For a BzzAgent primer, read the Fast Company article.)

Katherine writes ... "Is it me, or is this simply fake buzz? I think of word-of-mouth marketing as something that arises out of a really great product. People buy it, use it, and then tell their friends and family how really great it is. It seems to me that if you need to hire an agency to manufacture buzz then perhaps your product isn't all that remarkable."

Katherine … I agree with you 100%. Real, true, and heartfelt evangelists do not need redeemable points to compensate them for sharing their passion for a product or service. This is manufactured buzz, synthetic buzz … fake buzz.

After reading the article in Fast Company last month, I signed up as a BzzAgent to learn how the program works. While I have yet to participate in a campaign, I was eligible to participate in the BzzAgent campaign for the recently published book, UNSTUCK. However, I have already generated real, true, and heartfelt evangelical buzz for UNSTUCK without prodding and without the expectation that I will earn BzzReward points.

The seed for my genuine buzz for UNSTUCK was planted when I rifled through the book at Barnes & Noble and felt compelled to buy it. After reading a third of the book I was impressed. So impressed, that I told my fellow marketing coroner, Brand Examiner Paul, about the book and … he bought UNSTUCK. I then told Liz at work about the book and … she bought UNSTUCK. Next, I told Nona at work about it and … she bought UNSTUCK. Liz then told Margaret at work and … she bought UNSTUCK.

Real, true, and heartfelt evangelical buzz at work ... nothing fake or contrived about that buzz.

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» Truth and religion from Johnnie Moore's Weblog
Old proverb which I first heard from Deepak Chopra.God gave man the Truth. The Devil saw this and said "That looks wonderful.. I shall organise this and call it... "religion"This came to mind reading Katherine at Decent Marketing and johnmoore... [Read More]

Comments

Buzz...buzz...buzzzzzz---there is major buzz surrounding the women's market--but little of it discusses online habits. Oh, some folks are catching on, hang around enough coughing, sneezing folks and you are sure to catch the flu, too...but that is not always a good thing. Power to the masses is morphing into power to Moms! Moms online rock...right next to Grandmoms, Aunts, sisters, and daughters...gee, looks like the buzz around becoming "female-friendly" is finally catching on. Hey--I got to this site from Michele Miller's blog...looks like the buzz is working!

I linked here from Bzz Agent and want to say that I never "fake" a buzz. I've been a tremendous word of mouth advocate for several years. But now, I also get rewards for it as well. Please take a moment to note, not all bzz is good. It's not a requirement to lie for these rewards, so they are no less genuine than any word of mouth I did before joining. Several books I may never have seen or bought made there way to me through the program and I hope you'd agree that everyone benefits from increased literacy.

Helen ... I have two issues with the BzzAgent process - (1) seeding and (2) rewarding.

SEEDING.
Call me old school, but I think that real, meaningful buzz is generated not after receiving a BzzKit in the mail. But rather … after a maven or an influential learns about or experiences first-hand a remarkable product/service .

It is my belief that the BzzAgent seeding process is artificial. When a company hires BzzAgent to seed the marketplace with buzz, I believe that act, itself, is artificially seeding/stimulating buzz. This new school way feels contrived and inauthentic to me.

REWARDING.
It is my heartfelt conviction that mavens, sneezers, or whatever term you want to use do not need compensation nor prodding to talk about a remarkable product or service. The quid pro quo for talking about a noteworthy product or service should be emotional compensation (pride) and not material compensation (BzzPoints). Then again, I am old school.

I think the jury is still out on whether the intentional creation of "buzz" actually increases a product's popularity. In the meantime, there is another way to approach the idea of rewards. One can look at it as being rewarded for “reporting” buzz-creating activities for the benefit of the marketing analysts who can't always be present when these activities occur naturally. The agents are somewhat self-selected with varying levels of expertise (as I understand it) so inevitably you will have to sort through a lot of useless narrative to glean market data - but that doesn't mean there won't be any useful data reported. I think it’s an interesting experiment that will eventually morph into something more tailored and sophisticated.

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