Quantifying The Intangible Quality Called Buzz

Ask 10 people to define buzz and you’ll get seven different answers.

Three people will say, “I know it when I see it.”

It’s easy to quantify a YouTube video by the number of views.

It’s straightforward to quantify a blog through the underlying analytics.

But how do you quantify buzz for a company, especially one in the B2B space?

Here’s a thought that gets horseshoe-close.

It’s called Google.

Using the timeframe function in the search engine (below graphic), you can measure the number of hits by quarter, which starts to give you a feel for the buzz factor.

google search custom date range

True, this doesn’t touch on the qualitative side, but given how much due diligence takes place online, it’s not a bad starting point.

Applying the theory to our client, SuVolta, you can see how the numbers played out in 2011.

suvolta google hits

SuVolta officially came out of stealth mode in June 2011, so you would expect a modest profile in Q1 2011. From the June launch forward, you’d like to see a decent spike, which occurs between Q2 and Q4 (Q3 was a catch-your-breath quarter).

Given SuVolta sits in a somewhat esoteric space – technology for constructing the transistors that make up chips – I’d say these numbers show a certain level of buzz.

I recognize the approach falls short of rigorous research. Obviously, the universe of hits will contain a lot of junk and, short of going through each and every one, it’s tough to calculate the percent of good stuff.

Still, I think the technique has possibilities.

And on the qualitative side, you can apply the eye test; i.e., does it look like a company on the move?

Here’s the page one of the Google search results for Q1 2011

analyzing buzz with google

Again, the company was still in stealth, so a fairly humdrum stream.

Here’s the page one of the Google search results for Q4 of the same year:

using google to calculate corporate buzz

With publications ranging from Reuters to VentureBeat to EE Times, it passes the eye test.

I’d welcome hearing your thoughts.

In the meantime, I’ll keep experimenting.

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3 comments

3 Comments so far

  1. [...] Quantifying The Intangible Quality Called Buzz by Lou Hoffman Ask 10 people to define buzz and you’ll get seven different answers. But how do you quantify buzz for a company, especially one in the B2B space? [...]

  2. Todd Quinn March 27th, 2012 2:23 pm

    Lou, for this informal research you can use Google Trends follow the trend of a word/phrase. http://www.google.com/trends/?q=SuVolta+

  3. Lou Hoffman March 28th, 2012 1:49 pm

    Thanks Todd.

    Good hearing from you and appreciate the call out to Google Trends.

    I agree it’s a useful tool.

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