Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Buzz-based brand building

In "Brands Infiltrate Social Circles to Create Buzz," Adweek talks about recent efforts being made by brands to facilitate buzz about themselves. The idea is to get people talking "without incurring backlash."

The attempt to generate buzz, says the article, is supported by research showing that consumers believe their friends rather than marketing messages.

A recent example of the new buzz-based brand building: At TV Guide's "suggestion," "agents" whose job it is to "give feedback and talk up products to others" hosted 10,000 TV Guide parties across America before it launched its $20 million (estimated) ad campaign to "reintroduce its 54-year-old brand as a multiplatform provider and celebrator of TV culture, rather than a weekly listing of shows." The agents were honest about their affiliation.

Marketers need to be careful about using social media, says the article. Burson-Marsteller, the PR firm, recently found in a study that influential consumers "have a heightened wariness of commercial interests weighing in on blogs, message boards and review sites."

NBC, says the article, initially tried to plant positive comments on its shows on message boards, triggering consumer skepticism. So in a change in tactics, it previewed most of its shows to bloggers, and let them write about it. Sci-Fi went a step further, inviting 35 bloggers to Canada to visit the set of Battlestar Galactica and meet the cast.

As the article notes, there are two key problems with buzz-based brand building:

1. Predictability. "The challenge is how do you turn the social media space into something that can scale, that you can manage and can deliver predictable results." (Bant Breen, president of Interpublic Group's Futures Marketing Group)

Even more important is

2. Authenticity. "It's a tough equation because the consumer is stubborn and has a voracious appetite for the truth." (Pete Blackshaw, CMO of Nielsen BuzzMetrics.)

It takes a lot of sophistication to build a buzz-based brand...marketers, tread carefully.