Brizzly buzz

How a simple social media tool got popular without users

Shazam is an iPhone application that can convert nearly any iPhone cynic into a believer: hold up the phone while a song plays and Shazam identifies it.[rssbreak]

Part of Shazam’s appeal is that it can be easily described in one sentence, and just as easily demonstrated over the course of one song. The fact that it uses mysteriously secret technology to work makes it all the more enticing.

But rarely is a new technology such an easy sell, on the iPhone or otherwise. This is why speculating on the next Web success is such a challenging sport.

Which brings me to the next Web venture most likely to succeed: Brizzly.

Brizzly is a Web application that places Facebook and Twitter profiles on the same interface.

But its straightforward functionality is not why it’s garnered so much buzz coming out of San Francisco. That’s got more to do with its marketing, since Brizzly is more famous than it is used – it just opened to the public last Friday and has only 5,000 or so followers on Twitter.

How did that happen? Witness the four pillars of marketing your start-up, or how Brizzly got buzzly.

  • Invite-only: Welcome your venture into the Web with a select few. This allows for troubleshooting and early reviews, and encourages viral buzz. Gmail and Google Wave used the invite system to their advantage. This technique worked for Brizzly, too.
  • Icon: The Twitter bird was a stroke of genius. Birds tweet, and now so do Twitter users. Brizzly takes that same approach. The name evokes grizzly bears, and not by coincidence the logo is a cute bear. This is surely a gimmick that will tire, but since it’s underused so far, Brizzly gets a pass.
  • Brain cache: Brizzly was developed by Thing Labs, which has five ex-Googlers on the payroll – well beyond its share of marketable names. This matters to those who will fund your experiments, the venture capitalists. Get a single recognizable name in the tech world on staff and clear the brush in front of the path to profitability.
  • What are you doing? Tons of Web start-ups use mangled marketing talk – quasi-inspirational middle-management phrases like “enable innovation in your online community management to create social media marketing successes!”) to get their point across. But none of it works. A single catchphrase is obviously the answer. Brizzly’s? “Twitter and Facebook. Simpler. Easier.”

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