As someone who’s life often times feels dominated by social media, I thought the video ‘Social Media in Consumer Behavior‘ presented some interesting ideas, particularly on the differentiation between ‘hype’ and ‘buzz.’ I’ve been on all sides of this equation, as a creator of hype for a business, an organic creator of buzz, and a buzz agent. I would agree with the notion that hype often seems forced, and that genuine buzz is often more valuable. However, at which point does buzz-agent generated buzz also start to seem forced?
In my spare time, I run the food Instagram @foodbythegram. I’m often contacted by restaurants who will ask me to come in, try some items off the menu, and ultimately promote them. It’s a pretty simple process – I photograph, I eat, and then I post according to whatever guidelines I’m given (maybe there’s a hashtag they’re trying to use or specific language they like to employ). Often, I’m invited as part of a larger group, with the idea being that more people creating buzz must be better, right?
However, given that I am a Philly-local food account, and most people don’t just follow a single food blogger, if I go to an event with a group of other bloggers and we’re all posting the exact same things at the exact same time – it’s pretty clearly not authentic, and ultimately, looks just as forced as a restaurant trying to generate hype on their own. Imagine if you follow 10 Philly-local food accounts, and you see that the first one posted a really delicious burger. You may be enticed. However, when you see that exact same burger posted a few minutes later by accounts 2-10, it loses it’s luster, and it’s pretty clear that it was part of a larger arrangement.
While many food blogger groups are good about coordinating these events (making sure not everyone posts at the same time, making sure different menu items are featured, etc), many simply don’t realize how un-authentic the entire experience looks to an outsider.
I fully understand the value of using local food bloggers as buzz agents; however, some best practices that I’d recommend to keep authenticity:
- If inviting multiple bloggers in, encourage them to order different menu items and post different items at different times
- Have a cohesive hashtag (for instance, Hai St. Kitchen uses #GetHai) that everyone can use, so that people can see all of the posts in that campaign, and have everyone use it, so that it mixes regular content in with buzz agent content
- Work with bloggers who’s content style fits your brand, so that you can re-purpose/re-use the content on your own social media channels