• What’s the Bzz, tell me what’s a happenin’….

    by  • 12/13/2004 • life • 3 Comments

    There’s this swirl of debate by a number of people who know everything about what’s going on in the blogosphere, and they know The Truth. These people are those that know what’s wrong with something without looking into it, without questioning, and without investingating. They have had A Vision that has revealed to them The Answer, and they’re not going to be shy about spreading The Word. Okay, maybe I’m just seeing it that way, as I’ve signed up for the Marqui blogging program and have seen a LOT of whining and complaining by people who haven’t looked past the surface and automatically refuse to listen to anything coming from someone within the program. I want to write a piece specifically to address the Clickable Culture piece, which dissects the agreement in new and bizarre ways, but this is a piece about researching things before you jump to conclusions.

    I had heard a lot about something to do with BzzAgents and street level PR from “normal” human beings. I read the press and wasn’t sure what to believe… it sounded like something that cigarette and alcohol manufacturers have been doing for years; hiring attractive 21 years olds to hang out in bars, hit on people, and introduce them to their product as if it was a chance meeting. They wouldn’t typically SAY they worked for Marlboro, but they’d offer you one of “these great new cigarettes” they found at some shop someplace. “Aren’t they smooth and refreshing?” Sounding like ad copy the whole way through.

    The thing with the shills for the alcohol and tobacco companies? They were paid to act on behalf of the company, and to actively pitch the product through any means necessary. This is one of the common accusations thrown at programs such as Marqui’s or BzzAgent’s; that these people are nothing but corporate shills.

    shill (n) 1 : one who acts as a decoy (as for a pitchman or gambler); also : one who makes a sales pitch

    I decided to see if what the press was saying about BzzAgents was true – if they were nothing more than unpaid PR agents. So, I signed up for their program.

    It was painful reading, going through their information, as they tack the letters “Bzz” onto arbitrary words, seemingly at random; HireBzz, BzzProfile, BzzRewards, BzzBank, MyBzzHome, BzzThis, BzzThat. They carry the Bzz thing deep down, into every piece of writing, and into every graphic. It’s a bit much. I managed to complete signup, and a bit disappointed to find that there were no BzzCampaigns were available for me to join. Pretty much all I can do is read Rah! Rah! documentation about how great this place is, and how the program works (in theory).

    At this point, all I can actually do is fill out surveys about my car maintenance, what kind of pets I have, and so on. All for the promise that I’ll get something sometime. I’m not sure if I can actually keep this up long enough to take part in one of their campaigns. .. It’s a bit painful to login to their system and endure the assault of “Bzzing”

    Apparently the goal is to build up BzzPoints which you can then exchange for valuable gifts and prizes… it sounds like greeting card sales programs from the back pages of comic books when I was a kid. Sell 2000 boxes of cards and “win” yourself a pair of X-Ray glasses. You can’t spend your points from survey taking until you have reported some Bzz successfully on a BzzCampaign. You can’t join a BzzCampaign until something undefined happens…. Basically it appears to be a whole lot of promise, and not much fulfilment.

    That said, I believe that it was Eric Rice who was saying that the problem with Bzz is that they’ll take anyone, and that there could very well be someone out there seeking solely to destroy a product. I think that’s one of the biggest differences between Marqui and Bzz; one is going for quality and one for quantity. I’m not sure that either program can harm blogging and blogger credibility at all.

    For a small taste of the quality writing of their promotional materials, check out the following piece of text. I’m sure it will lower your IQ by a couple points… careful not to drool on yourself. It’s from the “How are BzzAgents Chosen for Campaigns” FAQ.

    If only people would remember that blogs are often nothing more than web pages written by people you don’t know and who you shouldn’t trust. The best thing that someone can do to elicit trust is to disclose what’s going on, and that’s something I’m doing. I’m joining the Bzz program to see what they do, and if I get anything out of the program at all, other than a headache, I’ll donate it to a reader or a local charity if feasible.

    Want to know the most frequently asked questions we receive here at the Central Hive? Well, besides the obvious one: “Why does the bee look so angry?” (answer on the last page!)

    So, the second most asked question is: “Why can’t I get into more BzzCampaigns?”

    We hope that by sharing the answer with you, as well as some secrets and tips, we’ll increase your chances of getting into future BzzCampaigns. Sounds like a good deal to us. After all, the best BzzAgent is an informed BzzAgent!

    Believe us! We wish every BzzCampaign could be offered to each and every one of you.

    But here’s the deal. We have clients, and these clients have budgets, and those budgets ultimately determine how many BzzAgents can join a BzzCampaign.

    And beyond the budget, we work with our clients to determine the perfect type of BzzAgent for each BzzCampaign. Now, before we get ahead of ourselves this is not as obvious or easy as one may think.

    In fact, we often encourage clients to think outside of their traditional “target-market”. The fact of the matter is that for a product to truly create Word of Mouth it must not only spread within its “target market” but also other communities. Think about it. Do you think the iPod would be where it is today if only music fans used it? Heck no! It takes all types of communities to truly create a Bzz about a product.

    Okay, now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s figure out how you can increase your chances of being offered BzzCampaigns.

    But, before we get to that…

    To be perfectly honest with you, we don’t always agree with our clients regarding their “target” communities. If you think you should have been offered a certain campaign, don’t wait – let us know right away! After all, you make us who we are, and if we’re missing something then we want to know.

    Email BzzAgent Jono – jono@bzzagent.com – with any questions or comments.

    Like we just mentioned, we work with our clients to determine “target agents” for each BzzCampaign. That said, here are a few key criteria that come into play when making that decision… Pay attention because the more you know the better BzzAgent you will be. The first criteria you can’t do much about. They are usually:

    • Age
    • Gender
    • Location (regional, national)

    Okay. So those are the super-obvious ones, but what else does the Central Hive consider?

    Wait! Should we really let you know this? This is so powerful that it could create a chain of events that will alter life as we know it. That’s why this slide is going to self-destruct in 90 seconds. Read fast!

    Here goes. One of the most important factors we use in determining your BzzCampaign eligibility is your past Campaign History!

    We specifically look for:

    • How often you have reported
    • Which BzzCampaigns you’ve been in
    • The quality of your BzzReports

    In the end, we want BzzAgents who are not only passionate about products, but also passionate about creating Bzz and then reporting it back to us.

    Is it really this easy? Simply reporting will increase my chances that much? The answer to both of these questions is a resounding – Y-E-S!

    Want to know another secret to increase your chances? You’d best continue then!

    What are you doing here? If you go any further then you’re gonna know too much. Please, please don’t go to the next slide!

    So here’s the scoop: Polls and surveys are also a big factor in your BzzCampaign eligibility!

    You know those polls you find on your BzzHome? Well, those help us identify people for BzzCampaigns, among other things.

    But don’t get ahead of yourself, Mr. & Mrs. Smarty Pants! We know people try to answer in a certain way to “get into campaigns,” so the answer you think we may want to hear is not always the right one. Your best bet is to just be yourself and answer the polls and surveys honestly.

    Also, be sure to check out those BzzFlashes. What are those, you ask? Proceed to the next slide to find out.

    Here are some other tips to help you increase your chances of getting into a BzzCampaign:

    1. Check your My BzzHome page often! We can’t stress this enough. The Central Hive is always working on new BzzCampaigns, and anything that you’re eligible to join will be listed there. Sometimes we won’t email you, so keep this in mind!
    2. Check out BzzFlashes! Often times, this is where we’ll place special announcements about BzzCampaigns. Please, please, please be sure to read these when they show up on your My Bzz Home. We wouldn’t want you to miss anything!

    Click here for the Cliff Notes version…

    So let’s take a quick recap…

    1. Create Bzz
    2. Submit BzzReports
    3. Check your My Bzz Home often!
    4. Take the polls & surveys
    5. Read those BzzFlashes

    Now we can’t promise that these steps will get you into that Mercedes Benz BzzCampaign with the free car incentive. BUT we can promise you’ll be in much better shape to get offered BzzCampaigns. Believe us!

    See, that wasn’t that bad now was it? Heck, it was much better then hanging out with your Aunt Janice! Plus, you learned some valuable tips, tricks and ideas to really give you the edge in getting offered all types of BzzCampaigns.

    Wait…ok, so what’s the answer to why the Bee looks so angry? It’s not angry – it’s just determined!

    Now stop complaining about not getting offered BzzCampaigns! Ha! Just kidding. If you have any questions and/or comments about this How are BzzAgents Chosen for Campaigns or just want to learn more, feel free to email BzzAgent Jono – jono@bzzagent.com

    Bzz now and Bzz often!

    I’m sorry, but you really need to see for yourself…

    I’m still skeptical about BzzAgent… it just seems dirty…

    Update: Whoops… the podcast I was listening to regarding Bzz and Marqui was an Engadget podcast from Dec 6, 2004, not Eric Rice like I thought it was. Sorry for any confusion there, Eric…

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    3 Responses to What’s the Bzz, tell me what’s a happenin’….

    1. 12/13/2004 at 6:22 pm

      I didn’t read all that Bzz stuff in one sitting. I did a little at a time as I got an email from there to check out this or that. I was lucky that when I signed up for Bzz, it was a referral from one of their clients — so I had a campaign right away. I answered a couple of surveys, which don’t take long and it didn’t take much to get more campaigns. But maybe my being a mom of three kids helps, who knows? The stuff I get aren’t stuff that kids would want.

      Anyway, I just gave a bad review to one of the products that I got through Bzz. Some campaigns, I find a lot to say and talk about… while others I only submit one or two reports because there isn’t much to say or I don’t like it.

      I respect your opinion. Just thought I’d share my experience, which is obviously 180 from yours.

    2. 12/13/2004 at 9:00 pm

      Meryl; I’m still not sure… I’m just waiting to see a real campaign, and feel a bit lost until at least that happens. Until then, admittedly, it’s all guesswork. I’ve just never really liked the style of writing that they’re using in the internal communication – it’s a bit like they’re pandering to me. I’ll keep going back, to see what happens, and I’ll reserve final comment until then… Partly I like that Marqui is pretty transparent by design, where Bzz isn’t necessarily so. Admittedly they’ve cleaned up their message regarding “secrecy” to sound less like the agents should have something to hide, so the Bzz program is adjusting to public opinion.

    3. 12/16/2004 at 7:23 am

      Bring it.

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