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The Anatomy of Buzz:
How to Create Word of Mouth Marketing

By Emanuel Rosen

Doubleday, 2000, 303 pp.,
ISBN 0-385-49667-2, Price $37.95

Reviewed by Lynn Fenske

What enters your mind when you are choosing what book to read, which movie to watch or even which car to buy? You'll probably consider the experiences and opinions of friends, family or selected contacts on the Internet as credible sources of information.

This is the premise of Emanuel Rosen's book The Anatomy of Buzz in which he dissects the phenomenon of word-of-mouth communication and deftly explains how it plays an integral part in marketing goods and services to the consuming public.

Buzz is not about clever copywriting or glitzy advertising. It's about what customers actually tell each other about a product or service. It's only natural for us humans to talk, to share ideas and communicate information. Think of this review as a bit of buzz. It all started with a conversation I had with a business associate. She told me about this book she was intent on reading called The Anatomy of Buzz. She was fascinated by the title, the topic, and shared with me her anticipation of learning more about the mechanics of word-of-mouth marketing. Her comments sparked my curiosity and now, months later, having read the book for myself, I'm sharing information about the book with you as part of a larger audience.This is buzz in action, the kind of action that has made PalmPilot and Starbucks coffee commonplace without massive advertising campaigns. Word-of-mouth is nothing new. There once was a television commercial that talked about the popularity of a particular brand of shampoo in terms of telling two friends - "and they told two friends, and so on, and so on". Well in our new age of Internet and instantaneous, wireless communications, the magic of shared information through person-to-person communications has become all the more powerful, more powerful even than any television commercial designed to mimic the process. Information and influence are no longer held exclusively by a few choice journalists or PR practitioners, they rest with thousands of customers who use Web sites and newsgroups to broadcast an opinion - good or bad. What Emanuel Rosen does in The Anatomy of Buzz is cut through the noise and assesses the true power and increased importance of buzz in our consumer society. He challenges corporate marketers to make a paradigm shift, suggesting in no uncertain terms that targeting market categories is no longer the practical thing to do. As he likens the anatomy of buzz to the airlines system of "hubs", "clusters" and "links", Rosen encourages companies to find the "network hubs" - the people who are especially well positioned to transmit information to a wider audience - that are relevant to their product and through them stimulate further buzz.

This book is well crafted by someone well positioned to write it. An accomplished copywriter and "ad man", Rosen was Vice President of Marketing for a Silicon Valley software company before cashing in his shares in the company and "retiring" on the proceeds. Armed with his own experience of seeing the power of buzz at work in the software industry, Rosen spent two years further researching and writing The Anatomy of Buzz.

Like a playwright, Rosen shares his findings in three progressive sequences; the introduction of what buzz is and how it spreads, the middle ground of identifying success factors associated with good buzz, and the conclusion of providing specific techniques to stimulate the flow of good buzz. Rosen's final chapter is structured like a workshop in that he provides the reader with a series of self-help questions to best develop a plan of action that utilized anatomy of buzz concepts and techniques.

The Anatomy of Buzz is an easy, enjoyable read for anyone interested in capitalizing on the power of word-of-mouth communications. Read it. You'll learn something powerful that you'll get to share with others. And they'll tell two friends, and so on, and so on ...

To read more about "The Anatomy of Buzz", see the Winter 2003 issue of The Sources HotLink newsletter available in February 2003 from www.hotlink.ca.


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