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

A peak behind the scenes at new flight comparison engine Zugu.

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?

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