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It’s all about the Marketing Buzz!

One common term used to describe marketing buzz is volume, which quantifies the number of interchanges related to a product or topic in a given time period. Basic ROI measurement of marketing buzz includes higher numbers of visits, views, mentions, followers and subscribers.

The next level of ROI measurement of marketing buzz—such as shares, replies, clicks, re-tweets, comments and wall posts— provide a better indication of the participants’ engagement levels because they require action in response to an initial communication.  There is also an increased level of direct public relations engagement with third party influencers, including media, industry analysts and other thought leaders.

How do you know if your company has marketing buzz?

  • The company is officially recognized by industry analysts or other third party influencers.
  • Companies with marketing buzz outperform in press release distribution results.
    • The average number of views for a “start-up’ company (3-5 years old) is around 1,000 – 1500 media views. When your Company reaches 5,000 views and above, something is driving the “buzz” factor.
    • In a similar vein, a high click through rate of a company’s press release, media impressions and multimedia views are good ways to measure marketing “buzz.” (Your distribution company can give you performance metrics and ROI measurement).
  • Company buzz increases attention from even those that play “hard to get.”
    • You’ll have a higher rate of response from reputable publications as well as an increased interaction level with industry players overall.
    • Even in a time when “earned” company stories are rare, a company with “buzz” finds its way into the pages of high-end media outlets and has more pick-up in totality with the total number of outlets engaged.
    • Industry analysts and other 3rd party thought leaders will be knocking on your door for a request for introduction.
  • Web hits and social media
    • While it may be hard to establish a baseline on ”marketing buzz” with social media activities, it is possible to measure results against other companies of similar size with social media tools.
    • Social media darlings measure their buzz by numbers of followers and LinkedIn interaction which will be superior in follows and interactions when compared to other companies of like size in their space.

While there are many factors that remain elusive when measuring a company’s marketing buzz, industry leaders and veteran marketers are able to track the elements that make up this intangible sensation.  They now are utilizing ROI measurement of marketing activities to prove what they already know. Their company has marketing “buzz.”

Twitter Me This

Robert Mullins is a freelance technology writer in Silicon Valley. His writing can be found at his Robert Mullins blog.

I witnessed two signs of the end of days in one week this September. First, disgraced ex-Congressman Tom Delay did his star turn on “Dancing with the Stars.” Second, Twitter raised $100 million in VC funding so more people can, for free, tell the world, “I’m eating a ham sandwich.”

I had coffee one afternoon with a Silicon Valley entrepreneur sharing his advice on how to network and he said, “The most important thing I would say for you to do is get on Twitter.”

I’ve been on Twitter for a few months but still find the experience puzzling. To me, Twitter is Facebook reduced to the status updates. I just don’t get it. Maybe if I reach the Ashton Kutcher level of followers – 3.5 million, according to Newsweek – then I might achieve the critical mass to really connect with my fellow Tweeters. But, really, do any of those 3.5 million Kutcher pals think if they meet him in person, they’ll be able say, “Hey Ashton, my bud! Can I borrow 50 bucks from you?” Kutcher: “Robert! Dude! Of course, here’s $50. I know you’re good for it, follower 3,235,612!”

And yet Spark Capital, Institutional Venture Partners, T. Rowe Price and Insight Venture Partners think enough of Twitter’s business model – a service for people to send text messages of up to 140 characters, plus photos and video, via a computer or cell phone – to invest $100 million, its third and largest funding round since Twitter was founded in 2006. The Wall Street Journal reported that the company, which has no revenue model and, therefore no profits, has a valuation of about $1 billion.

While Twitter traffic includes drivel like “I’m watching ‘Mad Men’” and “This bus is never going to come,” among the group that has found it useful are marketers. The Public Relations Society of America recently hosted a seminar titled “Social Media and New Media PR Boot Camp,” one of scores of such workshop invites that has likely filled your inbox. “You will learn … how to use Twitter to track news and build communities,” the workshop promises.

And yes, Twitter, along with Facebook, Flickr, You Tube and other Web-based services, can be effective tools in an integrated marketing campaign. In some cases it’s as simple as a writer posting a tweet touting a column he wrote with a link to said article (such as the message I will create to draw my followers to this column). That’s marketing.

Today, Twitter and other social media are hot, which lends them to hype. In a guest post on the site PR2.0, social media expert Louis Gray warns that Twitter is not the marketing campaign but a tool to execute the marketing campaign.

“The non-stop promotion of the tools and, yes, the individuals who think they are ‘experts’ is getting a little overwhelming,” Gray writes. “Many of the companies that have initiated new media practices are practically falling over themselves offering self-congratulatory praise for how they embraced these new technologies.”

Twitter may evolve into an effective communications platform – in some ways it already is; I found out that the columnist William Safire died via a tweet from the New York Times. But until marketers learn to stand out with their marketing message from the “I’m eating a ham sandwich” crowd, the signal-to-noise ratio of Twitter will remain high, and a limitation.

Newsweek columnist Daniel Lyons cited a study of Twitter which found that “40 percent of the messages are ‘pointless babble.’” But then, he continued, “look at TV.” No one can dispute that TV is a monumental platform for marketing, even if it’s for a TV show where a disgraced ex-congressman dances to “Wild Thing.”

Ignore Facebook at Your Peril

Robert Mullins is a freelance technology writer in Silicon Valley. His writing can be found at his Robert Mullins blog.

I’d thought of Facebook as a fun, entertaining time-waster, which would distract me from work I should be doing to take quizzes on what’s my favorite breakfast cereal or what kind of “Mad Men” character I would be. But I became impressed by the power of social media on June 25, the day Michael Jackson died.

On my Facebook News Feed popped up one post from a friend with a link to a report on the gossip site TMZ.com that Jackson was dead. Soon I was clicking my mouse with one hand and the TV remote with the other looking for confirmation. Mainstream media like CNN and MSNBC weren’t reporting he was dead; the only other Web sites reporting his death only cited the TMZ.com report. My News Feed soon filled with messages from others trading information on Jackson. It was like people gathering around radio sets when Pearl Harbor was bombed or around TVs when President Kennedy was assassinated. Only it was interactive.

I’d also heard that the initial reports of that airliner that splashed down in the Hudson River Jan. 15 came from Twitter.

So, the value of Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms is clear; they can be a powerful way of disseminating information and, where a business is concerned, managing it.

My e-mail inbox is regularly filled with invitations to online webinars or real world seminars on marketing and PR via social networking. For instance, the Web site Mediabistro.com, which follows media news and offers professional training, invites people to view a panel discussion, “Social Media Essentials for PR.”

There is also evidence that embracing social media can help head off PR crises. The Wall Street Journal, in an Aug. 3 article titled “For Companies, a Tweet in Time Can Avert PR Mess,” recounts how three major companies – Ford Motor, PepsiCo and Southwest Airlines, averted PR problems by responding quickly on Twitter.

In the Ford case, the auto maker was being criticized online for forcing a fan Web site – TheRangerStation.com, dedicated to its compact Ranger pickup – to close. Ford’s director of social media, Scott Monty, immediately posted a Twitter message that he was looking into the matter, the Journal reported. He learned that Ford lawyers believed the site was selling counterfeit Ford parts bearing the company’s famous blue oval logo. Monty got the lawyers to back off forcing the site down if the site agreed to stop selling the fake parts. Problem solved.

And you don’t have to be a giant public company to use social media strategically. The New York Times reported July 29 on “Managing an Online Reputation” about how small businesses can set up Google Alerts to send them a message each time their company is mentioned in blogs or other Web sites.

To track Twitter mentions of the business, the Times story mentions TweetDeck, Twendz or Twitter’s own search function as resources.

While social media are still growing and evolving, their value is becoming clear, so scouring Facebook and Twitter may not be a time waster after all, but time well spent.