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The Anatomy of Buzz:
By Emanuel Rosen
Doubleday, 2000, 303 pp.,
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.