A perfect example of successful buzz creation is Myspace and FaceBook. It took only a couple years to reach many millions of users. The membership growth rates of these websites are astronomical. Think of buzz creation as creating an epidemic. When a virus spreads it starts with a very few people, those people interact with other people, and so on, until many thousands of people are infected. When talking about creating a marketplace epidemic, there are three theories that can be used to describe the flow of information about market innovations.
Law of the few
It doesn’t take very many people to create an epidemic. As stated in the previous blog entry it just takes a few influentials / opinion leaders that know a lot of people and that are convincing to create an epidemic. An example of this is when Burger King hired their present marketing team. One of the first things the marketing team did was create a website that had a game people could play. The game had a chicken that you could type commands to and the chicken would do what you would tell it to do. For example, if you told it to do a jumping jack, then that is what it would do (it’s probably still out there somewhere, try googling “burger king chicken” or something similar). When the marketing team was done with their creation, they sent an email that contained a link to the game, to about 20 people the team considered influential. These people forwarded the e-mail to their friends, and within 2 or 3 weeks over 20 million people had played the game (it’s been awhile since I’ve read the story, so my numbers might be slightly off, but I believe they are pretty close).
Messages that are spread are messages that have high levels of stickiness. In other words, the message needs to capture attention and be something that is memorable. When Apple launched it’s need Air laptop, it was talked about a lot because Apple made the computer so thin. This was something very unique and memorable. People wanted to talk about it. Which leads to another point; if the message diffusion is to become an epidemic, people have to WANT to talk about it. They need to have something to get excited about. Therefore, when creating the marketing communications plan, it is critical to create a message that will make even ordinary information worth sharing and worth getting excited about.
Power of Context
For an epidemic to occur there has to be a right context for it. In other words there are certain circumstances under which word of mouth buzz is created. It is difficult to pinpoint any specific circumstances that will create an epidemic, but the truth is that they have to be just right. An example of how context affects a message would be an article in a newspaper about a drunk driver getting caught the night before. The message wouldn’t get spread very far if the driver was your next door neighbor, it would, however, be a huge epidemic if that driver was the presidents daughter (no implications here, lol).
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