5 Tips for Building Viral Buzz

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We hear a lot about buzz, but what is “buzz” exactly – and how does it start? First, a buzz is something that you create. It starts small, like ripples in a pond. It builds slowly. But when cultivated and capitalized on, the buzz eventually gets too loud to ignore. This is our goal when we work with you to turn a book into credibility into celebrity: create a buzz that makes your name, your face, your book, and your message instantly synonymous – and ultimately recognizable.

When a movie like Transformers or Star Trek is an instant box office smash, that’s not a buzz; that’s a million-dollar marketing blitz that literally created an overnight hit. Most of our clients aren’t millionaires with unlimited marketing budgets, so we rely on building a buzz instead.

Now, when a small, independent movie like My Big Fat Greek Wedding debuts to a rather slim box office ripple but word of mouth, great reviews and repeat business make it a “must-see” event over time – and a bona fide cult movie sensation – that’s buzz working at its finest.

That’s people telling people about “this great new movie.” That’s a few people reading a great review, passing word amongst themselves, and going as a group to see a matinee together. That’s one friend liking the movie so much she immediately thinks of two more friends who “have to see it,” and brings them along with her to see it again.

That’s a slow and consistently building of “buzz” that lasts far, far longer than the typical “blockbuster” movie that debuts to a huge $60 million opening and then quickly fizzles the next weekend – and every weekend after.

So how do you build buzz? A buzz takes time; it doesn’t happen overnight. It starts small, builds up steam, gradually establishes itself and eventually establishes you as someone buzz-worthy; as someone people are curious to know more about, learn from, listen to, etc.

If you’re interested in building buzz for yourself, here are several tips for doing just that:

  • Take your time to intelligently make your mark: You have to think this through; plan ahead and be consistent. Sharing the same message over and over isn’t repetitive because you’re usually speaking to a new audience; it’s simply a smart way to hone your message to perfection. The good thing about building a buzz is that it gives you time to really lock in your message and do it intelligently the more and more you give it.
  • Schedule events: Events are the bread and butter of establishing a big buzz. Create a list of bookstores and blanket them with readings; the more, the better. But don’t stop there; plenty of other places are open to author events as well. If you’ve written a book on gardening, talk to nurseries and local department stores with plant sections to do walk-through tours where you point out the latest spring plants or which flowers survive best in winter. If you’ve written a cookbook, do presentations and workshops at local cooking schools, restaurants or even food courts. Keep your eyes and ears open and be alert when walking around town; you never know which venue you walk past or just hear about might make the perfect place for your next event!
  • Lock your smile in: Appear at signings and readings – whether at the biggest chain bookstore in town or the smallest mom-and-pop used bookstore – with enthusiasm, vitality, humor, and your great message. A buzz can either be positive or negative, and you want to make sure you build the right, not the wrong, kind of buzz.
  • Be prompt, be professional, be persistent: Even the biggest towns are small when it comes to local newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV employees. These gatekeepers remember names, faces, an attitude, a gesture, a remark, or an affront. They have short attention spans and long memories. When you consistently provide trouble-free, audience-pleasing appearances time and again, the gates eventually open and something truly exciting starts: a buzz.
  • Build on your contacts: Tell people about what you’re doing. If you’re having a book signing next weekend, send out a blitz email to all your friends. Tell your coworkers, tell them to tell their coworkers, collect business cards and email addresses and create a “master list” or “database” of everyone you meet, what they do and how they might help perpetuate the almighty buzz.

Don’t think buzz creates itself or, for that matter, get depressed because you’re not an expert on buzz; nobody is. Those who have mastered the art of the buzz are simply efficient planners with a game plan that is consistent, credible and, did I say… consistent?!?

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