Wednesday, August 03, 2005

"What's All The Buzz About?"

I recently learned that my manuscript entitled "What's All The Buzz About? Everyday Communication and the Relational Basis of Word-of-Mouth and Buzz Marketing Practices" was accepted for publication in Management Communication Quarterly (to appear in Volume 19, 2006, Sage Publications). Here's the abstract for the article:

Although the influential role of word-of-mouth communication has been known for decades, a more recent phenomenon is the emergence of explicit organizational efforts to stimulate “buzz” (contagious talk about a brand, service, product, or idea). Buzz marketing organizations either pay people, or seek volunteers, to try new brands and then have agents “talk them up” among their social networks. This manuscript contends that the practice of buzz marketing is usefully framed within the study of everyday communication, which has shown considerable growth in the field of communication studies over the past decade. This framework provides a reliable scientific source and basis upon which to found further claims about the effectiveness and ethics of buzz marketing.
The study sought answers to questions of frequency of word-of-mouth (for example, what percentage of the total number of interactions includes word-of-mouth about an organization, brand, product, or service), what medium (such as face-to-face, phone, or online) was most commonly used, how common recommendations or referrals were, the conversational context surrounding a word-of-mouth episode, and what percentage of buzz marketing agents’ word-of-mouth communication is part of a buzz marketing campaign. I also compared the buzz marketing agent data to a "convenience sample" of non-Agents (college-educated 18-29 year olds).

The company with whom I collaborated on the project, BzzAgent, Inc., recently released on their blog a white paper entitled "The Value of Managed WOM Programs" based on some of the findings reported in the article.

A future manuscript (currently being submitted for review to another journal) will report findings from the same study about the quality of the interactions, levels of conversational control, value to people's lives, impact of the word-of-mouth episodes to people's thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors, as well as any changes in people's relationships and levels of attraction. Each of these factors (quality, control, value, impact, and relational change) were analyzed according to sex of the agent and their conversational partners, the relationship between the two (stranger, acquaintance, friend, best friend, relative, etc.), and also whether the episode was institutional word-of-mouth (that is, part of a buzz marketing campaign) or everyday WOM (unrelated to a campaign).

Addendum (September 2005): A pre-press version of this manuscript can be accessed from my Northeastern download page (you will be greeted with a simple form to fill out that asks for your name, institution, and e-mail address). The official version of the manuscript will be published in Management Communication Quarterly (2006). Feel free to comment on the piece should you desire to do so but please provide the link to my download page ( rather than uploading or mirroring the PDF file.


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.