Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How To Kill Your Own Buzz

Buzz Marketing and how to kill itphoto by leff

In today's over crowded world of everything from bands on Myspace to Applications on Facebook to Digg clones and beyond, getting your product to be truly "buzz-worthy" is not an easy feat. When a company does get the attention of the Social Media elite and possibly even mainstream media, they truly need to capitalize on the traffic, users and site maintenance to ensure that everyone who comes by has a great time and continues to funnel new traffic to the site.

As we have began the business plan situation for jamblr it has been difficult to gauge what our potential "buzz" is going to be. Will we be unhappy with only a few thousand users in the first few weeks/months? Will we have enough money to support a site that doesn't hit the "mass appeal?"

Then I take a look at some companies that had buzz in the last few weeks. Plurk comes to mind. Twitter was disastrous the last few weeks, just utterly bad. Some people started talking Plurk and all of a sudden, half the Tweets I was receiving were from people talking about Plurk. From how cool it is, to how awful it is, to how "not Twitter" it was.

Chickens With Their Heads Cut Off
I then started to think about what was happening at their offices. I would assume that they were running like chickens with their heads chopped off making sure their servers could handle the load. If they went down, well then, they would be no better than the service they were "supposed" to replace.

What about their PR and marketing people? Where were they? No interview with Scoble? Come on, that's a standard now.

All joking aside, doing a quick search for Plurk on Summize, which tracks Twitter queries, will show that there was indeed a demand, and Plurk users were using their competitor to get the word out. Free marketing via users, that's the best kind of marketing in my book.

So to get onto the theme of killing your own buzz, here are some things, tips and ideas that I have been pondering today:
  • Know how to make things happen for yourself - You get attention from attention. Get the attention of someone who matters, tell them about your product/service and then let your product deliver. Word will spread.
  • Prepare for the unexpected. - Plurk knew Twitter was going to go down again sometime. When a competitor goes down, a front page on TechCrunch happens or 60 minutes shows up on a tip, be ready.
  • Prepare in general - A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Jason at Wired Magazine. I wasn't used for the story. I had some interesting points and I think he liked what I had to say, but I couldn't come up with the specifics he was looking for because I wasn't prepared for the situation. Now I am sure that I am up to date and ready for every meeting, happy hour, web chat or video I shoot.
  • Don't Over-hype - I sign-up for enough of these web services that I know suck. Most were over-hyped by the media and some were over-hyped by the client. I really don't care about the services you are going to have, I only care about the services you have now, when I am logged in and you have my attention.
  • It's better to have something now - As frustrated as you can get with developers, sites take time. However there is a fine line between getting something up and making something perfect. When you have some attention, get something online. Gimme a blog, tell me how the site is coming along. Tell me your servers went down. If I am at your site, or you are at mine, I hope that you can find something that will tell you what we're up to. At jamblr we have a blog and a corny video. It should fly with most people long enough to get your email address.
  • Jump - Take chances, send blind emails and make cold calls. This goes back to the first point, but most people are cowards to make the initial contact that will get them closer to their goal or help them get their hype. I am a chicken shit sometimes as well. The end justifies the means every time though.
  • Admit your mistakes - When traffic comes pouring to your site and you have to have a "we're down page," find a way to explain it, for those that want to know. Own up to it.
  • Forgetting about "the list" - We have been taking in emails for jamblr for almost a month now. We have not sent out anything to the kind folks that are giving away information to be a part of a community that doesn't exist and might not until the end of the year. Knowing when to inform them of our status and get them re-involved is a huge aspect of our "buzz marketing" as our users are the focus point of our whole operation.

When you get your 15 seconds of Internet fame be ready for it. It can come at any moment. If you want to help me get a few seconds, please share this story on StumbleUpon or Digg or Facebook or something cooler that comes along in the future. Till next time...

-Greg Rollett


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