Regular readers will know I work quite a bit for web marketing and social media company iCrossing. One of our clients Cheapflights has just launched a new flight comparison website in the UK called zugu.

With their permission, I wanted to post some thoughts about the way they are trying to get people talking about it and using it. I'd be really interested to know what people think about their strategy. Is it smart? Will it work? What would work better? Interestingly the stated aim was to drive search volume for the term 'zugu' - not to gain sign ups or comments.

Here's what the Cheapflights crew have come up with:

  • They've used a name that was memorable, unusual and that actually meant something. (Important!)
  • They've created a short (just 2 weeks) competiton. People have to try and guess what zugu actually means. The winnner will get two free flights to anywhere in the world. The competition is still running now - feel free to enter! (closing date is: 5th March)
  • They've come up with a series of clues to help people guess.
  • They made sure people can enter several ways - twitter by using a hashtag #zugu and on a new Facebook page (see next bullet).
  • The new Facebook page forms an easy to access place for people to discuss with each other about the name and learn more - there are video clips of people's entries too.
  • They are also using a new twitter ID to encourage people if they are getting close to the correct answer and engage with people who are trying to guess.
  • They are approaching travel bloggers and offering them an exclusive clue that they can host on their blog and share with their followers. In return they're offering to link to the blog post that the blogger writes from their Cheapflights website(s), twitter accounts, and facebook page. There's no obligation to link to zugu or cheapflights - they're just asking the bloggers to tell people to 'Search for Zugu'.
  • Clues are also posted in PPC ads as well as on the zugu site itself and they change daily.
  • It's not just the marketing team working to promote and create buzz - Hugo Burge Cheapflights' Chairman is tweeting as well - lots.
  • Zugu clue - click to go to Zugu Facebook pageAt first I thought it was a tad gimmicky... but I'm impressed by the thinking that's gone into the idea.

    These days there's something new every second on-line and you could spend a truck load trying to promote your new venture. But strategies like this that seek to use social media are absolutely the way to go in my opinion.

Here are a few key things that I think mean the idea will gain serious traction:

  • Offering a prize worth winning - you absolutely HAVE to offer people something of worth otherwise they just won't engage. Ideally something tangible and aspirational and of decent value.
  • Using multiple platforms that everyone uses - whether people are on twitter or they use Facebook they can enter and engage.
  • Finding a smart way to keep the competition alive - the clues are a nice idea. Particularly because they only last a short period of time. I wonder whether some enterprising bloggers will start to sniff around and find as many clues as they can and post them in one place?
  • Not attaching strings - they could have gone to bloggers with a much more formal/commercial offer... maybe even offering to pay for posts. But I think offering a link with the potential for lots of traffic and NOT insisting on a link back is ethical and thoughtful. To be honest, if I were choosing  to have a clue on my blog I'd link to the zugu Facebook page anyway - seems like the obvious thing to do.
  • Thinking about search as well as social (increasingly we refer to them as the ying and yang of the internet). If bloggers who host clues don't link back to zugu, then their readers will have to search for zugu to find it and enter the competition. More queries to google/bing/yahoo for the term zugu will probably help from an SEO perspective. (I am no SEO guru, but it feels to me like it ought to.)
  • Getting everyone to pitch in - it says a lot that the Chairman is tweeting away and commenting on blog posts too.

So... will it work? Would you post a clue on your blog for them? And are there other good (and bad) examples of travel cos seeking to create buzz for their products online?

9 thoughts on “How do you create a buzz on-line for a new project?

  1. Really interesting case study. I'd also add that competitions like this give participants a reason to "care to share" by enlisting the help of others - in this case in helping to work out what Zugu might mean.

    Even more interesting to see a client launch a new brand - and in particular a price comparison website - with a social media campaign. I think that the biggest factor in success of the campaign would be the use of media spend to help drive awareness and engagement.

    Looking forward to hearing more!

  2. Zugu competition: Clues for your free flights

    Have you heard about Zugu.co.uk?
    To launch our new flight search site we're running a competition asking you to guess the real meaning of the name Zugu. To help you along, we've published clues on dozens of blogs around the world. Read this post to f...

  3. Zugu competition: Clues for your free flights

    Have you heard about Zugu.co.uk?
    To launch our new flight search site we're running a competition asking you to guess the real meaning of the name Zugu. To help you along, we've published clues on dozens of blogs around the world. Read this post to f...

  4. Hi Rosie
    Thanks for your comment. I shared a seminar podium at WTM with Jane Nicholson one of the architects of the hyper-successful Queensland tourism Best Job in the World campaign. One of the things that really struck me about what she said was that the campaign only went viral once they got coverage on network TV (ie old media). The minute they got interest from GMTV it shifted up several gears. So we absolutely should not right off old media. As you point out though, that can be expensive.

  5. The Europe a la Carte Blog is one of the travel blogs hosting an exclusive clue for the zugu competition. I linked to the zugu site, Twitter stream and Facebook page in my blog post as it seemed the natural thing to do.

  6. Not directly to me (funnily enough), but I was forwarded an email with their approach to bloggers to plug the competition.

    It's quite a clever idea, get the buzz going within the blogosphere, although I think dangling a carrot of potentially huge levels of traffic from referrals is a bit of a sneaky idea.

    I think the struggle is keeping the momentum going.

    It's a two-week competition, according to the email, so all those who spent hours (it certainly looked like it) on the first day trying to guess the reason behind the name will now have to wait nearly two weeks to hear if they've won.

    At one point on Monday or Tuesday of this week, someone was already tweeting that they were bored of it all.

    Perhaps they were just fed up with the twitter stream of Zugu-related stuff.

    Anyway, possibly a better approach from a PR perspective would be to also secure an interview for Hugo in a Sunday business section on the second weekend, tailing nicely into the second week of the competition.

    The competition needs more than a handful of bloggers and Twits [!] talking about it.

    There's a lot of really creative stuff you can do around getting coverage in mainstream media, too. As Jeremy says, it was only when Best Job hit TV that it really took off.

    Anyway, maybe the PR machine hasn't finished its work just yet.

  7. It seems to be gaining traction amongst bloggers and us twitter users but aren't we a fairly small niche bunch? Would like to see/know how all that will translate to consumers? Happy to be wrong!

  8. I find the idea intriguing and have found myself pondering the clues in odd moments . . . so it definitely gets inside your head as an idea and I certainly won't forget the name Zugu. But the prize is not quite good enough for me because the thought of having to choose between taking my 8yr old daughter or my husband on holiday is too stressful and I wouldn't have the cash to stump up for a third ticket to Jamaica! But I'm sure I'm in the minority . . .

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