I’m working on integrating a “Buzz” section in a web site focused on a new technology product. So what exactly is “buzz” anyway? SearchCRM.com defines “buzz marketing” as “a viral marketing technique that attempts to make each encounter with a consumer appear to be a unique, spontaneous personal exchange of information instead of a calculated marketing pitch choreographed by a professional advertiser.” This reminded me of posts that I see more and more of on LinkedIn.com. At times, a user posts a positive comment about a new product, and I find myself wondering if the writer is a real user or a copy writer hired by the manufacturer. Sometimes it’s hard to tell (which I imagine is an attribute of good buzz).
So how can one integrate buzz into a product web site and make it worthy of inclusion? In other words, how do you make it valuable to your audience without making them distrustful of its content? Based on a review of various product-oriented web sites, and through some experience asking consumers about what constitutes good buzz, here’s what I conclude:
Big Things You Can Do to Make Your Buzz Worthy
- Keep buzz content fresh. There’s nothing worse than a consumer thinking the buzz is over since the last post was 6 mos. ago.
- Integrate the bad with the good. If you’re going to include buzz in your site, don’t just include positive comments. Be brave. Allow for some constructive criticism. Consumers will be pleasantly surprised and trust your brand all the more. (I’ve actually heard them say this in usability testing.)
- Integrate buzz teasers rather than full articles, but link to the full articles on the source web site. Showing your customers that you’re willing to relinquish some control over buzz content will also earn you respect and trust.
- Link to a variety of buzz sites, again to build trust and credibility: Digg, Facebook, Flicker, Twitter, and YouTube to name a few. Having more than one source say your product is wonderful will be good for sales.
- Integrate buzz as part of your product pages. While it’s not prominently featured content, Volkswagon includes buzz on its vehicle shopping pages.
Little Things You Can Do to Make Your Buzz Worthy
- Include the date the article was published in the teaser and put the newest articles first.
- Consider a search feature, sort capability or content filtering options. The Direct2Dell site allows users to filter content by Most Recent, Most Viewed and Most Commented.
- For an advanced audience, consider opening third-party web sites in the same browser window or a tab. If your audience includes novice web users, consider opening third-party web sites in new browser windows.
- Include an RSS Feed feature. The Volkswagon Buzz page includes an RSS Feed so that savvy online vehicle shoppers can stay informed of VW updates.
I’d love to hear from others who have experience with buzz integration in their web sites. This is fairly new territory for lots of UX professionals — so there’s lots to learn!