More Thoughts On Creating Online Promotions That Actually Generate Buzz

I previously posted a short guide on creating buzz online that outlined just the basic elements you’ll need to create the buzz. Now let’s go a bit deeper.

Everyone is trying to use the web to reach millions of people cheaply with the usual interruption advertising. What they don’t realize is that the web isn’t like TV, and it isn’t a medium where you can just interrupt the user experience with your messages. You can’t consider the web just like the TV or the newspaper and simply use it to place ads, at least if you want to make any sort of splash and see real results.

I’m not saying contextual ads don’t work and don’t have their place (they do), but if you want to actually get people talking about what you’re doing, you need something more creative, something that engages them.

The web is the best communications platform the world has ever seen, and thus attracts the smart, the creative and the unique. And they are thirsting for the new, the exciting and the imaginative. Web users are an active bunch, they don’t want to sit and absorb your passive messages, otherwise they would simply watch TV.

With this in mind, I thought I’d offer a few thoughts for creating online promotions that will actually create a buzz, get what you’re doing talked about and not just be passed over for the next thing:

Pay attention to trends, stay on the edge:
You’re never going to make successful promotions online unless you’re well up-to-date on what is happening right now on the web. It moves pretty quick, and even after only a few days you’ll start to fall behind. Put aside time every day if you are an Internet marketer or just someone who wants to make promotions online. Read blogs, stay active on social networks and follow the latest startups and technology. You’ll never know when you’re going to stumble-upon a big idea or opportunity.

Consider attaching whatever you’re trying to promote to a popular cultural meme. This is a great way to get your product tied to something hot in the news and make it spread.

Be original:
People who say that ‘everything has been done’ haven’t thought hard enough. You don’t have to be radically different in your promotion, certain things work great for the web – but you do have to at least put a unique spin on something.

This could be as simple as doing something technically different, such as offering opt-in RSS for your company’s news or promotions instead of simply email campaigns (I’m surprised more companies aren’t doing this).

Or it could be something creatively different. This is where you need to think outside the box – there are infinite combinations to what you can do with creating social networks, blogs, micro-sites, databases, widgets, etc. Just make sure what you’re doing has an actual benefit and use, and you’ll attract users (this guide may prove helpful). Don’t just start throwing stuff together, have a plan and give people what they want. Or give them something so undeniably cool they didn’t know they wanted it, but now have to have it.

Think through what you’re doing and realize that PR can’t make or break your promotion on the web. PR can definitely act to get the ball rolling, but your idea should be self-reciprocating. It should be creative enough to spread organically on its own and should be an ideavirus.

Leveraging influencers such as Technorati top 100 bloggers in the beginning can’t hurt, but they will only pay attention to you if your idea is remarkable, as they are bombarded with requests to post things daily.

Play to a niche
Ideas, products, blogs, magazines and restaurants can’t be all things to all people. Playing to a niche is a powerful strategy, especially since a compelling idea paired with the right niche will be hard to keep a secret for long – the information will want to be free if it’s outstanding. Even smarter is find an ignored niche and pay them direct attention. You’ll be greatly rewarded (and so will they). It’s absolutely a win-win situation.

(Much) more to come in the next post on online promotion strategies.