What is buzz marketing? Strategies and examples

The average human sees over 5000 marketing messages every day, so standing out can be tough. Buzz marketing uses the power of word of mouth to generate interest in a business or product launch. Of course, your product or service has to be buzz-worthy to begin with if you’re going to get buzz marketing right. Read on to find out what buzz marketing is and how you can generate it.




Essentially, buzz marketing is a viral technique used to maximise word-of-mouth potential of a campaign or product. These conversations can happen online or offline. When done right they can massively increase online traffic, social following, and of course, sales and leads.

But what exactly is the buzz? This is tricky bit. It could be an idea, a phrase, a tagline, an advert or some other smart marketing ploy used to get people talking. It’s nearly always great/weird or different, and that’s exactly what makes it work


Word of mouth marketing, is, generally thought to be, the best form of marketing. It’s what kicked off social and in particular, influencer marketing. But what exactly does buzz marketing do to get everyone so excited?

All-encompassing content  

 What you don’t get with all marketing strategies or campaigns is that all-encompassing content that works across social, web, email, PR and events. With buzz marketing, you use your “buzz” to create something big and let the users do the hard work for you. If done right, buzz marketing can help you generate organic – or at least easier – PR, social engagement and conversation, web referrals and traffic and more.

The fear of missing out

Nobody likes to be left out. Especially not in this digital era. Buzz marketing works especially well when people feel as though they need to be a part of the conversation – whatever that may be.

We see examples of this all the time, most recently with the viral social challenge started by none other than Dolly Parton. The challenge sees social users upload four different images of themselves for four different social channels, most usually Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Tinder. Celebrities like Mark Wright, Chrissy Teigen and Miley Cyrus have got involved in the challenge. The hashtag #dollypartonchallenge has been used over 480,000 times on Instagram alone.



Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon

 Have you ever bought something new and then you see everyone with the same product? This is exactly what the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is, otherwise known as the frequency illusion or recency illusion. Once you stumble upon something new, you then reencounter it over and over. Buzz marketing employs this phenomenon as you begin to see all of your online and offline channels littered with the same message, hence sticking in your mind. The meme marketing strategy is built off of this phenomenon and works to deliver buzz marketing on a lower range.


Ever heard of Bitcoin? Chances are, you first heard of it back in 2017 when it caused an uproar in media outlets and on social when its price reached a value of $19,783 USD. From there, everyone was talking about Bitcoin despite cryptocurrency being relatively unknown back then. This was buzz marketing to a tee, using a small snippet of information to create a wave of online feedback.



  83% of consumers trust recommendations of their friends and family, so you can see how essential buzz marketing is to your business.

The real success stories of buzz marketing are where campaigns go viral. How likely is this? Very slim being honest, particularly if you’re relatively unknown as a brand.

So what can you do to get noticed and without spending a huge amount of money?

Rather than just shouting from every channel it’s about creating personal messages and stories. Buzz marketing places the importance on word-of-mouth, and with good reason, as people are more likely to trust their opinions, which will ultimately drive conversions.


Content – Old Spice still takes gold

Despite their ad coming out in 2010, Old Spice’s ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ is still ticking boxes. So much so that Old Spice continue to use the same actor in current campaigns.

Their video campaign was well-targeted, aligning to the partners of the actual users of their product without alienating their current customers. This out-of-the-box ad was full of humour and personality, and that didn’t stop with their main campaign video.

Within 24 hours of the TV launch, the Old Spice actor was responding to key accounts via YouTube videos. This level of personalisation certainly wasn’t seen then, and is barely seen now.

With celeb endorsements like Alyssa Milano, Justin Bateman and Rose McGowan, the team utilised organic influencer engagement effortlessly.

Social Media – ALS show us how to go viral

The ALS ice bucket challenge remains probably one of the most famous word-of-mouth marketing campaigns ever. Whilst we all may have heard about the challenge after being nominated by a friend on social media, the charity’s marketing team actually kick-started the campaign at a fundraiser, where they encouraged audience members to pour a bucket of cold water and ice over their heads, video the whole thing and post it on social media, nominating a friend to do the same. What actually happened was celebrities like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and even Donald Trump got involved in the challenge without having to be paid upfront to do so.

The timing of the campaign was imperative to its success, starting in summer and giving it time to catch fire whilst the weather was still good. It held the ultimatum of either accepting the challenge or donating to the cause, raising over $115 million back in 2014.


Influencers – Glossier understands their audience are their own ambassadors

Having a big budget isn’t necessary when launching products, as long as you have the right strategy. Glossier completely rejuvenated the way businesses market and opted for a social-first strategy. Instead of focusing on getting big names to represent their brand, they instead enlisted the help of micro influencers, who have under 100,000 social media followers. Glossier understood the importance of engagement over follower numbers, as ultimately you want people to take the time to like, share or comment on your posts to increase brand awareness.

In a world where beauty on social media was represented by heavily airbrushed and edited images, influencers shared natural photos and videos of them using products, which built trust in their target market. As their following built up they ensured they kept engagement rates high by responding to all comments and direct messages. Creating a personalised approach to engagement meant they could react to feedback and take suggestions which resulted in them designing products based on requests from their fan base.

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Coming across as authentic is essential when it comes to a buzz marketing campaign. People are less likely to engage with a big, faceless business, so ensure your messaging has a human element and retains that as you grow.


Part of the team – Monzo creates a business people want to be involved in

Crowdfunded banking app and system, Monzo, have built a brand that people love from the ground up. They have involved their customers in much of the decision-making process, with lots of features in the app coming from customer suggestions. The key to Monzo’s success was their referral programme and the hype built around customers receiving their card. They did this by using an interactive waiting list where you could see your place in the queue and move higher up the list by referring friends, adding an air of exclusivity.


Monzo built their community through events and hackathons, both promoting new members and fostering relationships with existing ones. The team host Monzo Meetups, where the Monzo team will come along to support and promote events led by its users who have ideas and projects to share.



Direct Engagement with the end user at first touch – Tinder paves the way

Now a household name, Tinder originally launched to try to engage the younger generation who at the time felt there was a stigma around online dating. To get the younger generation on board, the Head of Marketing launched with a party at an American University, inviting sorority groups to join and download the app, followed by fraternities who then saw girls they knew were using it and quickly followed suit.

Where traditional dating websites had marketed themselves as offering dates for users, Tinder wanted people to sign up on the basis that they might see their crush on there. By the next morning the entire campus had signed up and people were sharing the details of the app with their friends, organically growing a pool of users. The team then travelled to various universities across the USA quickly raising the number of active users from 5,000- 15,000.


Running with the assumption that individuals in sororities and fraternities are the popular individuals on campus, was a way to strategically make the other people on campus view the app as a cool thing to use. It also took the anxiety of face-to-face interactions away, along with the ease of use at being able to ‘swipe’ on the go.

Starting out with a free service and building a pool of evangelists is a great way to initially and organically promote your product. At a later stage you can start charging for users to join or access extra features.


Stunts & Guerrilla Marketing – Liverpool ONE tap into our emotions

Liverpool ONE, a retail and leisure destination have become famous for their on-site stunts and activations, promoting local interaction and a love for their city.

Blue Monday, the third Monday in January, is supposedly the most depressing day of the year. Liverpool ONE took no time in making the most of this to spread some feel-good vibes across the city with a ‘flower drop’ initiative.

A hundred bouquets packaged in pairs were left across the site, and those lucky enough to find them were encouraged to share the second bunch with a friend, loved one or even a stranger.

This resulted in plenty of press, social chatter and offline interest. Not only that, but it gave locals and those further afield a great impression, not only of Liverpool ONE but of the city as a whole.



Referral programs – Uber driving demand through its customers

Uber launched back in 2009 and now has over 103 million monthly active users in the 700 cities they operate in. They launched the new app with a relatively simple and low budget marketing strategy, offering individuals in Silicon Valley free rides.


As Uber had such an amazing unique selling point, people were quick to share their experience with friends and colleagues. They then sponsored tech events, offering free first rides to help a wider pool of people experience the technology and encouraged referrals through the use of a discount code.

The discount code to be shared offered friends a discount on their first ride, whilst the person sharing the code would receive discount on their next ride. This two-way incentive created a wave of new riders which spread out from small groups to city-wide, before becoming a globally successful business.

What we can take from each of these campaigns is that you do not need to spend thousands on advertising of gaining press coverage for the sake of it. Creating a compelling campaign that highlights your USP and truly connects you with your end users, is more likely to get engagement.


To help start-up brands connect with their key audiences, Influential has launched a brand-new start-up package, offering discounted PR and marketing support to help companies reach and engage with key target markets at the start of their brand journey.

It always helps to have an experienced, expert communications partner on board to shape and deliver an effective PR strategy, so please contact us on accelerate@thisisinfluential.com if you would like to have an informal chat with one of our team about how we might be able to help.

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