I got into an interesting debate with a coworker about using an iPad (or physical goods/money in general) as a contest prize. I posited that it’s a bad idea as it brings in people from outside your community who don’t care about your product. He pointed out that it doesn’t matter if they’re outsiders – you can generate a lot of buzz with money/prizes. Neither of us is wrong, but this illustrates a common disconnect between creating advocacy and creating buzz through a contest (or any initiative, really).
Buzz is people talking about you.
Buzz can be positive or negative. Buzz is momentum. Buzz is what it sounds like – a bunch of voices talking about your product.
Buzz can definitely be good – people want to be in the loop, and if everyone is talking about something, they want to know about it too.
Buzz can be bad – people can be saying bad things about your product, or buzzing about the buzz-creating campaign itself, not your product. Buzz guarantees conversation, but not what kind.
Advocacy is people who like you talking about you.
Advocacy is people who care about your product talking about it to other people. Actively, without a campaign urging them to.
Advocacy is always good (but not always easy to get). Advocacy may not be as loud as Buzz (though it can be), but it’s far more effective.
Ways to get Buzz:
- Do something outrageous
- Do something controversial
- Give away a lot of money/prizes
- Get someone well-known to talk about your product
Ways to get Advocacy:
- Build a fantastic product
- Show your customers the same respect and support you’d like them to show you
- Establish relationships: between you and your customers and between customers (people desire validation from others when they like something)
- Give away something of only of value to your community (so only those that actually like you already get involved)
- Do something generous for your community
There’s a great slide in this ESSENTIAL deck that says “whether someone can be influenced is as important as the strength of the influencer.” In other words, for all the talk of influencers on the web, it depends on whether the people they’re exerting influence on can actually be influenced. And as the research in the aforementioned deck (and a million other places online) says, people are most influenced by their closest friends. Advocacy (one-to-one, personal) vs Buzz (many-to-many, impersonal).
So the question is not whether prizes are bad or not – the question is whether you’re trying to create Buzz or Advocacy. They seem similar, but they are in fact very different beasts.
Do you agree? What are your examples of successfully getting Buzz or Advocacy?
Photo courtesty of David Blaikie.