What is buzz marketing? Strategies and examples 

Generate interest

The average human sees between 6,000 – 10,000 ads every single 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 must 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 the 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 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. A great example of this is 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 – usually Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Tinder. Celebrities like Mark Wright, Chrissy Teigen and Miley Cyrus have all got involved in the challenge. The hashtag #dollypartonchallenge was used over 480,000 times on Instagram alone.


83% of consumers trust recommendations from 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 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 importance on word-of-mouth, and with good reason. As people are more likely to trust their opinions, which will ultimately drive conversions. 

Content – McDonald’s first ad that doesn’t feature products 

McDonald’s are well known for their advertising content, which over the years has always featured their trademark golden arches along with a mixture of menu staples and seasonal products. 

In 2023, their newest ad campaign ‘Raise your Arches’ was set in an office block, with scenes showing colleagues raising their eyebrows at each other to signify they were going to McDonald’s for lunch.  

Directed by Edgar Wright, whose credits include Simon Pegg’s Cornetto Trilogy and Baby Driver, the advert created a huge buzz, partly due to the perfect depiction of a secret code that ties in with the brand’s logo. 

And, to make it even more ingenious, the advert is the first from the company which does not feature any of its products or restaurants. Just the sheer joy of fulfilling your McDonald’s cravings. 

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. While 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 as 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 while 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. 

Starbucks – harnessing the power of organic social media posts 

Anyone would recognise a cup of Starbucks coffee with the iconic green mermaid logo, which we see on our social media feeds all the time. People don’t just “get a coffee”, they specifically “get a Starbucks”. There’s a certain prestige and in-group with Starbucks which has been cultivated through years of a strong brand and positioning as the place to get coffee. 

As a brand, Starbucks relies heavily on buzz marketing to stay popular and always in the mind of its audience. And, with each coffee cup having the name of the person who ordered it written on it, the drinks, and therefore pictures of them, are personalised to each individual.  

Customers snap pictures of their drinks, from a regular cappuccino to speciality drinks like the seasonal Pumpkin Spiced Latte (shortened to PSL by lovers of the beverage) and share them on social media. When inevitably a name is misspelt, customers post these to social media too, under the hashtag #starbucksnamefail.  

Recently, the Starbucks secret menu has generated a buzz with off-menu drinks that you can only order by telling the barista the name of the drink. The unique flavours include a Butterbeer Latte – named after a Harry Potter drink – and Apple Pie Frappuccino. Starbucks picks loyal customers to get the word out on social media, creating a sense of exclusivity and community around their brand that keeps customers coming back. 

Influencers – Glossier understands their audience are their own ambassadors 

Having a big budget isn’t necessary when launching products – if 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.  

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. 

Generating buzz for a healthcare brand  

At Influential, one of our most recent healthcare campaigns for the Cheshire and Merseyside Public Health Collaborative ‘Simple Things’ got the public talking about hygiene.  

By working with microbiologists to reveal the ‘invisible’ germs we encounter on everyday items, from self-service checkouts to escalator handrails and computer keyboards, we triggered a strong public reaction by revealing some revolting results.    

It sparked huge online and offline conversations with audiences sharing our shocking findings that microbes found in human faeces and traces of E. coli were commonly found on everyday items!  

It’s no wonder our campaign successfully encouraged people to increase their hygiene levels – with four out of five people claiming it made them wash their hands more or sanitise surfaces more. 

What we can take from each of these campaigns is that you do not need to spend thousands on advertising or 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. 

If you think your brand could benefit from having a marketing strategy in place and an expert PR team on side, get in touch at  influentialmarketingteam@thisisinfluential.com