Full disclosure: I’ve been a ‘BzzAgent’ for a number of months now. How did I find out about it? Someone else told me. In turn, I’ve told others and promoted the site to them. And that, is exactly what BzzAgent is trying to do. BzzAgent is part of dunnhumby, a customer science company that analyzes data and customer insight. According to dunnhumby they,
“married science with the most expansive suite of consumer advocacy solutions on the planet to create the next generation of advocacy marketing – one created to build and sustain long-term brand growth.
From insights and consumer generated content that optimise your product launch plan to widespread reviews that deliver on your brand promise to the authentic customer conversations across social media that drive product sales, you’ll feel the impact of these programs across your entire enterprise. BzzAgent’s Advocacy Suite is a blend of social and science you won’t find anywhere else – with results you won’t find anywhere else, either.”
To the customer, they are marketed as a way to get freebies and sample new products that you can ‘brag’ about to your friends. There are twitter accounts and blogs devoted to ‘free stuff’ and giveaways and BzzAgent fits into that demographic perfectly.
The premise of BzzAgent revolves around a ranking system. The higher your score, the more campaigns you are invited to. Your score and your online influence both increase your chances of being invited to more campaigns. BzzAgent participants are asked to review the products and share via numerous social media channels including blogs, twitter, instagram, Facebook and conversations. Results can be shared by common hashtags. In my personal experience, a twitter review resulted in attention from the brand I was reviewing, and more followers.
BzzAgent gives individuals the opportunity to feel like they have a voice to impact the product development of different brands, and be recognized and valued for their opinions. Another element of BzzAgent are the surveys, which can vary from pets in the household, to beauty regimes, household income and even general health of the individual. It can be incredibly personal information, but because the reviewer can gain from sharing those details, it’s a gold mine of information for companies looking to market their products. The participants view BzzAgent as a way to try new products and tell their friends and family what they thought of it, while also having an opportunity to let the brand or creator know their opinions. It gives them a sense of value, although the its arguable that the same individual would be unwilling to share personal information if there was no incentive in place.
Campaigns themselves involve several steps. Once invited to a campaign participants are asked if they want to join. This is a interesting and key element – by giving the reviewer ‘power’ to choose whether or not they want to participate, there is a bit of a Ben Franklin effect to their involvement.
Once the participant receives the product in the mail, the individual may be asked to complete a survey, share their review, and then post additional reviews on whatever social media they have linked to their account.
Companies using BzzAgent include P&G, Wrigley, Unilever and L’Oreal. Since the company was founded in 2001, BzzAgent participants have spread word of mouth to over 100 million people within their networks. There is no doubt that the reach of the BzzAgent reviewers have brand impact. By using a platform such as BzzAgent, brands benefit from social media’s reach and speed to promote their brand as the reviewers can become an army of advocates. Especially since their participation in spreading the word about a brand is directly linked to their opportunities to participate in other campaigns, i.e., receive more free stuff. However, BzzAgent encourages the reviewers to be honest and people are not rewarded for simply giving positive reviews to brands. This in turn, provides more accurate data mining for the brands.
While many BzzAgents may understand their role to be more of an influencer to the companies, it is apparent that the larger role they play is sharing the brand and promoting the sale of completed projects, rather than impact the development of the product. The founder of BzzAgent, Dave Balter said “We tell people that we see them as a thought leader for a product. We send them the product, send a BzzGuide [brochure] to help them feel special and then they talk to other people as they want. We don’t tell them to what to say..The idea that you’re so important that the brand is going to actually listen to you means your opinion matters,”.
In 2008 BzzAgent invited any brand marketer and its agency partner to “to take part in a challenge in which BzzAgent and the agency partner will run competing campaigns. If BzzAgent does not top the competing agency by 20% across four metrics — brand awareness, consumer opinion, purchase intent and actual sales — the agency will refund the marketer the cost of its word-of-mouth campaign and measurement costs.”
Lessons for Others
The BzzAgent participants review products and share opinions, believing that they are influencing a brand and a product. Are they? Sure, in part. From a larger perspective, the participants are word of mouth marketers. Both parties appear to benefit. The reviewer feels valued and influential and may even become loyal to the brand, the brands gather data and have enthusiastic brand advocates spreading the word for them.
My experience? So far, I’ve told them a lot more about myself than I would tell any other advertising agency and told people on social media to buy products I got for free. It appears to me that I’ve been less of a ‘thought leader’ and more of a grassroots marketer. Oh well, at least I get free stuff.
Name of Organization Contact: Clint Miller, Director Business Development
Authored by: Michelle P
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.
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