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'The Anatomy of Buzz: How to Create Word-of-Mouth Marketing' by Emanuel Rosen

Books on Business:The Anatomy of Buzz: 'How to Create Word-of-Mouth Marketing'

Sunday, March 18, 2001

By Carnegie Business Librarians


The Anatomy of Buzz: How to Create Word-of-Mouth Marketing

By Emanuel Rosen



How did Hot Mail grow from zero to 12 million subscribers (the fastest adoption rate of a new product ever) in 18 months? Why did Cold Mountain, a literary Southern novel by an unknown first-time author, become a blockbuster bestseller? What made the Palm Pilot succeed when similar devices failed? “Buzz” is the answer, which the author defines as “the sum of all comments about a particular product or company at a certain point in time.” Buzz spreads through powerful but invisible “network hubs.” Members of network hubs are opinion leaders; they travel more, read more, are faster to adopt new products, and are more likely to recommend them to others, in person and on the Internet. Many people can love your product, but word about it will not spread if those people are not part of a network hub. Therefore, it is critically important to “influence the influencers.”

What can you do to stimulate buzz? According to Rosen, it’s a lot like good storytelling. Withhold information and release it gradually. Build anticipation. Make people feel like insiders. Be a bit outrageous, too! Scarcity also builds interest -- think of the scramble for the first Trivial Pursuit games, or for rare Beanie Babies. Of course, the best buzz is created when the product is truly impressive on its own.

Included are dozens of fascinating and instructive anecdotes about strategies by makers of the BMW Z3 sports car, Microsoft’s Windows 95, Power Bars, Birkenstock shoes, and others. The author also discloses how to keep buzz alive after the newness fades.

The importance of “influencing the influencers” was illustrated recently in a February issue of New York Magazine. “You Will Be Wearing These,” the headline proclaims, and goes on, “Christian Dior eyewear’s new spring sunglasses ... have barely hit the counter at Saks, but already they’re everywhere ... Sixty fashion editors received them ... and magnanimous Dior reps have been handing them out to trendsetters.” “Next season,” gushes its spokesperson, “you’re going to see Dior everywhere.” Lesson learned, Mr. Rosen!

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