Buzz. That’s what everybody wants. We Twitter endlessly. We update our blogs tirelessly. We send love notes to the media”¦ All in the name of buzz. Online buzz in particular has become the pot of gold at the end of the marketing rainbow. Many recent oft-cited success stories are inspiring tales of how a small-time company with a good idea exploded thanks to huge interest created online. So we keep chipping away in hopes of becoming a talked-about brand with a strong online presence. But does online excitement always translate to big sales?
The New York Times wondered this same thing over the weekend when discussing the recent Internet sensation “Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys.” The reality show from Sundance Channel won’t even air until December 7 but already has more than 160,000 fans on Facebook. In today’s world of TV indifference, these are huge numbers – especially when considering other cable reality shows like Bravo’s “Flipping Out” have about 50,000 fans.
“Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys” follows a straight girl and her gay best friend. While the subject has been covered to death in sitcoms and dramas, the series is the first reality show devoted to the topic. Apparently, something about the marketing or the premise has already spoken to TV fans even though they haven’t even seen an episode of the program. Sundance, naturally, is already doing a victory dance.
But we’d hold off on popping the champagne bottles just yet if we were you, Sundance. We’ve seen big-time online buzz build and swell but still fail to deliver the dollars over the past year. ABC’s “My Generation,” the documentary “Catfish,” the iTunes social flop Ping and the new Digg are just a few examples of lots of press coverage and chatter that didn’t pay off in the end. The reason? Well, we’re no psychics here, but we can guess that people simply didn’t like those things. Massive online buzz, while being the Holy Grail for marketers, is worthless if the product or business being promoted isn’t very good.