What's the Buzz?
Advances in viral marketing and social media have made buzz the hot topic.
It is contagiousness. It shows that there is a lot more to contagion than either word-of-mouth or emotional engagement.
Emotion- once a largely ignored field of cognitive psychology - has become accepted as a major spring of consumer behaviour.
There has been a much-increased interest in the social mechanisms by which ideas spread - particularly as the ubiquity of social media has made 'buzz' such a seductive strategy. The power of word-of-mouth and, in particular, the commercial value of recommendation by highly influential individuals within society.
There are three components in any social interaction: there's me, there's you and there's an idea that we might discuss or pass on to one another.
Contagiousness is not just about the effect that ideas have on people. That might seem a subtle distinction, but it's an important one because it makes us think about why an idea takes root and spreads.
However ideas matter much less than what people say about them.
It's all to easy for us to get distracted by character of the things we make - by their stickiness and the contagiousness - and imagine that it's these kind of qualities (and thus ultimately our efforts) that determines… how far and fast they spread through a given population.
Because the means by which ideas engage people are often emotional and unconscious. Indeed, it is the people-centric models - with their emphasis on (conscious) advocacy and recommendation - that are closer to the old view of how communication works.
Of course it is not ideas that replicate, it's people who copy (and modify) ideas and who pass them on - be it through social networks or simple conversation.