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Author David Seaman on Putting Buzz to Work

By Blake Glenn
Oct 22, 2008 4:00 AM PT

David Seaman defines buzz as the process of getting people to discuss you, your company, or your product ... for free.

Author David Seaman on Putting Buzz to Work

In his new book, Dirty Little Secrets of Buzz, Seaman lays out 61 tactics for creating buzz.

Seaman shares some of his general secrets for creating buzz, and also provides specific tactics for tech industry firms and executives to create and keep buzz.

Buzz, Then and Now

Buzz is an age-old concept, but the emergence of dynamic social media products such as MySpace, Digg, Reddit and others provide powerful new tools to generate buzz, Seaman said.

The strategic use of social media is the best way to create buzz in today's high-tech world, according to Seaman.

Some of his other insights include:

  • Take advantage of a rivalry with another company or individual to create buzz
  • Utilize an existing story to create buzz about you or your company
  • Give people the gift of missing you by not being overexposed

He suggests that when companies are ready to create buzz, they should go for it 100 percent, because it can take off like wildfire once the process is started.


Listen to the podcast (22:13 minutes).

Here are some excerpts of the interview:

E-Commerce Times: One of the things I want to get started with is a definition. So what does buzz really mean?

David Seaman: Buzz is basically about getting people to talk about you. It's getting them to spread the word about you for free. You can create buzz in a variety of ways. You can do it the old school way, which is to take out [a] multimillion-dollar billboard advertising campaign, and radio ads and banner ads online, and Google text ads.

The problem with that is you're going to spend a lot of money and not necessarily see any results. A good buzz campaign gets people excited about whatever you have out there and it gets them doing all the work for you. They're the ones posting it to their Facebook pages and telling friends they have online about you. So that's basically what the book is about and that's what I do for a living right now.

ECT: It sounds like buzz is synonymous with viral marketing or word-of-mouth marketing,. Is that true?

DS: Yeah, that's the way that I've always interpreted it. So often people post something online and say "this is going to go viral." What they really mean is that they're posting something online. A very small percentage of content online actually does go viral, and that's what I focus on is finding ways to tweak content and find something truly exciting that does go viral so that instead of 5,000 or 10,000 hits on your blog, you're getting 500,000 or a couple million and a front-page link on Digg and a bunch of stories being written about you. I think it's definitely exciting. Even a few years ago, it was more difficult to create buzz than it is now.

ECT: What do you think has happened to make it easier? Is it simply the Internet and technology, or is something else going on?

DS: I'm sure your listeners are very tech-savvy and they know the Internet's been around for a while, but the thing is, we haven't really seen dynamic social media until about three, four years ago, and really it's just becoming mainstream now, with Digg and Reddit and the ability to share pages from Facebook and MySpace bulletins.

That's incredibly powerful because, this isn't my own quote, I think the marketing guru Seth Godin who said when somebody promotes your product and tells their friends, they're going to do a pretty poor job of promoting it. They're not being paid. Maybe they'll mention it once or twice -- you should check out this guy's book, or you should check out this guy's podcast or you should watch this movie this weekend if you get the chance -- but people do a poor job of marketing products to their friends.

With Facebook and MySpace, it's fundamentally different now. It only takes 20 seconds for somebody to post a link to your blog and share it with 2,000 people that they know. And in turn, some percentage of those 2,000, the content may resonate with them, they may enjoy it and they're going to do the same thing, and it's just going to spread in a matter of hours. It used to be you had to be a big Web site, or you had to have a big link on CNN.com or major news sites to create that kind of buzz, and now you don't have to do that anymore.


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Social media benefits my company the most by...
Allowing us to "control the narrative" by telling our own story.
Being able to target demographics that matter to us and nurturing those relationships.
Giving us a way to monitor our competitors.
Increasing our brand awareness.
Providing ways to advertise with a small budget.
None of the above. Social media is useless to my company.
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