In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about Buzz Marketing.
Buzz marketing is a strategy that the world’s top brands use to get their products noticed. Big names like Dropbox, Uber and Slack all got their breaks by creating hype about their products before they even launched.
Here, we’ll break down just how you can use this tactic to get people talking about your brand. We’ll also take a look at some great examples of buzz marketing success stories.
Buzz marketing is ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing. It’s the practice of generating hype or ‘buzz’ around a product launch.
It’s simple. Get people talking about you, and you’ll get a rush of traffic — which can translate to a higher conversion rate.
When it works, you’ve struck gold. Take Skip’s Kitchen, a burger joint in California.
Years ago, they started a gimmick. Before paying, diners would choose a card from their waiter’s deck of cards. If they picked the Joker, their meal was on the house.
Word spread fast. Before long, their restaurant was packed with people hoping to be lucky. They kept this novel idea going, and today people still flock there for the thrill of a free meal. To date Skip’s hasn’t spent any money on advertising.
Skip’s is a successful example of buzz marketing. Be bold, try something different, and you’ll get people talking about you.
Buzz marketing isn’t a new idea itself. But the advent of the digital age has changed the game. Online networks have proven to be powerful at spreading hype about new trends.
Summary: What Is Buzz Marketing?
Buzz Marketing refers to promoting a business’s goods and services through ‘word of mouth’ spread mostly by customers who have had a memorable or impressive encounter with a particular business. Skip’s Kitchen, a burger joint in California is good example of Buzz Marketing where customers spread the word to other customers about this restaurant’s promotional gimmick of picking a lucky card from the waiter’s deck of cards which will translate into a free meal. In digital marketing, buzz marketing refers to any marketing tactic that gets people talking about the brand and generates hype and anticipation.
So how does it work? Buzz marketing is handy because it gets your customers to do the work for you.
Social buzz grows organically. Whether through web referrals or hashtags, the conversation keeps on going without your intervention. It’s a hands-off tactic, taking less of your time and money.
Plus, by casting a wide net, your campaign can rope in customers who wouldn’t be your typical target market.
And it’s effective. In fact, buzz marketing works better than advertising because it harnesses the power of ‘group think’.
Humans are social and want to be accepted by the group. So we’re more easily persuaded by people we know. We’d rather trust a recommendation from a friend (or an influencer), because we believe it’ll be more honest than advertising that comes directly from a company.
Part of all of this is our natural ‘FOMO’. We want to be plugged in to the latest topics of conversation, so we can feel included and relevant.
Summary: Why is Buzz Marketing Effective?
Buzz Marketing is effective because it is communication between peers, hence the level of trust is high. People will believe more in what they are told about a product by someone they know than any marketing content about the same product. This saves businesses a lot of money and resources. Buzz Marketing spreads widely faster than other forms of marketing and the same product can be described in many ways through various languages. The hype and buzz generated can also propel other marketing channels forward, leading to greater success and higher conversions overall.
Now let’s take a look at how you can spread buzz for yourself:
Engineering ‘buzz’ takes a healthy dose of luck. The internet is saturated with content, and the chances of ‘going viral’ are like winning the lottery.
You can’t force it to happen. But there are strategies you can follow.
A must-read, Mark Hughes’s book Buzzmarketing lays out different types of buzz marketing. Buzz-worthy content, he claims, should aim to be Taboo, Unusual, Remarkable, Outrageous, Hilarious, or Secretive.
Here, we’ll show you how to put this in practice with 6 easy strategies:
Contests and giveaways are a sure-fire way to get your brand exposure.
In fact, this can be a really effective tactic to boost social shares and generate more leads. People love free stuff. If they’re offered freebies or discounts, they’re more inclined to engage with you, share your post, and end up promoting your brand along the way.
That’s just what Eggo did with ‘The Great Eggo Waffle Off!’.
Way back in 2013, the US waffle brand launched a recipe-creating contest on Facebook. They called for moms across the country to submit their own recipes for the chance to win a $5,000 prize. After that, fans shared and voted for their favorite recipe.
The results speak wonders. Engagement with Eggo’s Facebook page soared over the campaign. They got a whopping 200,000 new Facebook fans, 800 recipe entries, and an 8% increase in product sales.
Just last year, Zomato launched yet another successful contest.
The Indian restaurant aggregator took to Instagram to challenge followers to make a video advert for the brand. To be eligible to win, they had to tag some friends in their submission. The prize was a hefty ₹25,000,000 (roughly $34,000).
Fans didn’t disappoint. Zomato received 4,113 entries. But most importantly, they got a huge spike of engagement on their posts throughout this campaign.
The takeaway? Put out a contest, offer a sizeable prize, and you’ll attract much more participation, and grow your reach through social shares.
Clearly, contests and giveaways are excellent ways to approach buzz marketing. And especially if you’re just starting out, they’re vital.
If you want to replicate this success with your brand, a helpful tool is Upviral. Upviral makes it easy to run contests and onboard new customers. It offers easy-to-use features like sweepstakes, giveaways and waiting lists, so you can reward customers for being advocates for your brand.
It’s a great choice for driving traffic to your site and getting results.
It’s Marketing 101. When something is unavailable, people want it more. You can leverage this principle to stir up buzz around your product.
One way is by making access to your product exclusive. Make your product invitation-only, like early Gmail in its Beta days. Or offer an early waitlist for a limited edition product. Framing your product as ‘limited’ makes it more desirable, and shrouds it in intrigue.
Similarly, you could create secrecy by holding back information. Teasers, like Tweets with cryptic hints, create anticipation about a product that’s about to drop.
Need inspiration? Movie teasers are masters at scarcity. When HBO dropped the Friends: The Reunion teaser in 2021, it gave nothing away. In response, the internet went ballistic, speculating about what fans could expect to see:
Put out content that’s worth sharing in the first place.
This could be a slogan, an infographic, a contest — or your best shot: a video.
The most shareable videos are out-of-the-ordinary. There’s a lot of junk out there. So to stand out, muster all your creativity to make something that sticks with people.
One way to do this is by using humor. Old Spice’s 2010 ad is a textbook example. Its irreverent humor garnered it 40 million views in 30 days, making it a viral success story.
Another approach is to tell an inspirational story. You could release a video that champions the human spirit, or talks to a hot topic.
Nike does this best. In 2019, their ‘Dream Crazier’ ad, narrated by Serena Williams, resonated with so many people because it celebrated the tenacity of women athletes.
Target a set of influencers to promote your product to their followers. To build buzz before a launch, enlist them to review a sneak peek to generate people’s interest.
Influencers are, well, influential. In the Instagram era, they have a great deal of sway over what their followers see and care about — especially with Gen Z and Millennials.
In fact, influencers can be more powerful advocates for your brand than celebrities.
Unlike celebrities, influencers are relatable. Many have built a following by being authentic, sharing intimate aspects of their lives, and engaging directly with their fans. Because of this, many followers trust them.
So if an influencer is promoting a product, their audience is receptive to it.
If you’re not sure how to get started, an influencer marketplace can really help. It makes it easy to search through an exhaustive database of influencers, browse their stats, and select the perfect fit for you.
For a truly out-of-the-box campaign, try guerilla marketing. Guerilla marketing is an unconventional tactic where you advertise in the real world.
Essentially, it relies on creative tactics to surprise people. You pull a real-life stunt to interrupt people’s day-to-day routines and grab their attention.
There are infinite ways to do this.
Ahead of The Game of Thrones finale, for example, HBO set up 6 Iron Thrones at random locations throughout the world, and challenged fans to find them.
And then there was the Fiji Water girl. As a stunt for Fiji Water, a woman carrying a tray of water turned up at the 2019 Golden Globes and photobombed high-profile celebrities. Her face turned up everywhere online, with people praising her stealthy skills.
Guerilla marketing is a fun, novel way to get attention. But don’t overdo it, or it’ll lose its novelty.
Build an active social media presence, and amass an online following.
Social media is a powerful tool for customer engagement. You can interact with your audience in a robust way, proving that you’re attentive to their needs and winning their loyalty.
There are tons of ways to incentivize engagement:
Because it’s so time-consuming, try out a tool to help. HootSuite, for example, is a great pick for organizing social posting across platforms. It works well for any business size, and if you’re just starting out, even the free plan is impressive.
Wendy’s Twitter account has a razor-sharp wit. Full of savage roasts, snarky replies, and sassy retweets, its Twitter voice is distinct — and hilarious.
Squeaky-clean corporate speak is a major turn-off. Wendy’s is a great example of a strategy that hits the right note because it talks like its online customers talk.
And it pays off. Regularly, Wendy’s gets mass retweets because its Tweets are funny and brutally honest.
In 2017, Wendy’s showed just why it had earned this reputation. Teen Carter Wilkerson asked Wendy’s how many retweets he’d need to get free nuggets for a year. The fast-food chain’s response: 18 million.
A mass campaign to get Carter his nuggets ensued, and by the end, he’d broken Twitter’s record number of retweets. It wasn’t 18 million, but Wendy’s relented and gave him a year of free nuggets.
The brand rode the wave of press the story got, and won the esteem of younger users online.
In the last few years, Gymshark has skyrocketed to prominence. It’s gone from being a lesser-known apparel brand to a serious contender in the fitness scene.
How? Gymshark is an example of investing in an online community. And a big part of that is recruiting a team of formidable ambassadors like Nikki Blackketter and Steve Cook.
The brand carefully enlists rising star influencers to be the face of their brand. They pick like-minded fitness enthusiasts who have an authentic audience, and aspirational abs.
When Gymshark’s about to release a new line, their influencers release teasers of new products, stirring up buzz online.
The strategy is clearly paying off. Its sales have grown exponentially, mainly in the 18-25 year old age bracket.
In 2020, rumors grew about a secretive new platform: Clubhouse. Invitation only, Clubhouse has seen exceptional growth, going from just 1,500 to 2 million users in less than a year.
Clubhouse offers a new podcast-like experience, but with more audience participation. Right now podcast platforms are ubiquitous, and it’s hard to break from the crowd.
Clubhouse’s solution was a ‘Velvet Rope’ strategy. Initially, it sold itself as an exclusive app, and its first users were a small list of big-name celebrities, musicians, and thought leaders.
Because invites were so scarce, people were desperate to be a part of Clubhouse. Though now the app is open to anyone, Clubhouse has made its name as an elite experience.
As an anti-hero, Deadpool breaks the stereotype of a superhero. No surprise then when, in the lead up to the 2016 film release, its marketing also broke some rules.
With a small budget, the Deadpool team turned to guerilla marketing to stir up buzz ahead of the release.
So Deadpool joined Tinder. While users were swiping left on Tinder dates, Deadpool popped up in suggestive poses. Amused users posted screenshots online, and helped create buzz around the film.
Deadpool was a huge hit, grossing 9th highest in 2016. A big part of that was its risk-taking marketing strategy.
Like Apple, Nike is no stranger to teasers. It uses its brand reputation to drop hints about new products to get its huge customer base talking.
In 2018 for instance, Nike released a cryptic teaser for a new shoe on Instagram. All the post revealed was a foot, some cushions, and 3 springs. The caption wasn’t much help either:
The post got a spike of likes and comments. Their interest piqued, fans tossed back and forth guesses about what Nike had in store. Blogs speculated about the new release, and it became a great example of using teasers to attract interest.
There’s no one right way to do buzz marketing. But what’s clear time and again is that building hype around a product is powerful. If you can get people talking, you can really boost your traffic and conversions, even before you fully launch a product.
Using our 6 steps, you can kick start your own buzz marketing campaign. It might take patience, but if you can get it right, it’ll be worth it.
There’s quite a bit of overlap between these two terms. In fact, some people use them interchangeably. The biggest difference is that buzz marketing can take place offline and online; whereas viral marketing only ever takes place online. Buzz marketing is therefore a more comprehensive type of marketing. Find out about buzz marketing.
People are more likely to trust a recommendation made by an ordinary person. They assume they'll give a more honest view of a product. This means when they hear praise about your product via word-of-mouth, they’re more receptive to buying it. Check this guide to learn more.
There are many ways to do this. You could try using the scarcity principle, putting out buzz-worthy content, using guerilla marketing, building an online community, or starting a referral campaign. Check out our guide to learn more about these 6 strategies. Read more in this guide>>