Today in PR class we had an interesting discussion about the idea of 'word of mouth'. Is is possible to measure such a thing? How could an advertiser encourage it? Could it be controlled?
My instructor introduced the class to an interesting website called BzzAgent.com. This relatively new website wants to reward people for spreading the word of various products, and I think it's cool.
So how does BzzAgent work? Well I just signed up, so I can't say I'm an expert, but the basics of the program seem fairly simple. After filling out a few surveys about my hobbies and products I already like, future 'campaigns' featuring products I may be interested in may ask me to become a BzzAgent for them.
After that, the company will send me some samples of their products and a brief instruction manual on how to use the products, some of the product's benefits, and even a few ways to bring the product up in a conversation. That last little bit of the process might seem a little fishy to some, but I don't think it sounds all that wrong.
People regularly talk about products, TV shows, and restaurants they like or don't like, this program just puts these products into our hands and gives us the opportunity to talk about them (bad opinions are welcome too) whenever they come up in a conversation.
I know some people will disagree with this program and say that it might corrupt the way we interact with people or that we will become walking, talking human advertisements, but I don't think people would go to those extremes. Receiving some free product samples just isn't a big enough incentive to change the way we interact with other humans.
So here I am now, looking forward to the first campaign I'm asked to become an agent for. Will I receive a food product? Or maybe a bottle of make-up? Or maybe I will get two giant canisters of Nabob coffee in the mail like my instructor received for his first campaign.