The connection between buzz and viral marketing is not always well established. Some viral marketing campaigns operate by constructing the appearance of buzz, while other have as their primary goal the natural cultivation of buzz. In a marketing context, buzz is defined as the general positive feelings people have about a product or service created by hearing about it from individuals deemed important in certain social circles. A good way to think about this concept is that a product with good buzz is widely anticipated and often talked about among friends in a positive light without prompting. Basically, buzz and viral marketing are both ways of getting customers to do the work of advertising themselves.
The way in which viral marketing succeeds is by making consumers spread word of the product themselves, generating widespread awareness of the advertising campaign. Buzz and viral marketing are therefore connected because buzz is necessary for viral marketing to succeed. In essence, buzz is what makes viral marketing work.
Buzz and viral marketing existed prior to the Internet, but it was often difficult to get these campaigns started without the interconnectivity available online. Word of mouth advertising is spread rapidly when people can share information with friends with little effort. One way in which viral marketing campaigns attempt to jump-start buzz is often by contacting a small group of influential individuals who might already have an interest in the product. Getting these influential people to give the product positive reviews can spread positive associations with the product to a much wider crowd and generate a lot of buzz quickly.
It is also possible for a product or service to have bad buzz. This typically means that the consumer base's reaction to the product in question is negative, and that this negative reaction is widely reported and spread out. One example of why bad buzz is a large problem can be seen in the case of movies. People often rely on the recommendations of friends and bloggers to determine which movies to see. A single offhand remark about a movie being bad from a friend can convince a potential patron see a different movie.
One benefit of the use of buzz and viral marketing online is that effects can be easily seen by looking at blogs, forums, and social networks. Demonstrating whether or not a product has good buzz is called buzz monitoring. This service also allows a company to establish where efforts to spread the viral marketing campaign must be pushed harder. Looking at which communities are most susceptible to certain types of viral marketing can allow a company to launch even more effective future campaigns as well.