[Written for Branded3 in September 2014. See the published version here.]
While the rest of us mere mortals constantly feel like we are playing catch up when it comes to mastering social media, music artists always seem to be one step ahead.
Not only are they dominating the charts, selling out tours and creating killer albums, this talented bunch are also teaching us a lesson in how to market your brand successfully on social.
Whether it is by creating engaging apps for their fans or teasing their latest single on Instagram, music artists know exactly how to create the biggest buzz online and ultimately, bring in the biggest revenue by doing so.
The following five artists have shown particular flare on social media with various campaigns and social activity. Notepads at the ready…
Drake and Lil Wayne
Over the summer, rap stars Drake and Lil Wayne released an app to coincide with their highly anticipated joint tour. Executed like a game of Street Fighter, the Drake vs. Lil Wayne tour show was a truly interactive experience, with fans almost as interested in their phones as they were the rappers. But for good reason.
Not only did the app allow you to choose which male went first in the on stage ‘battle’, it also gave you the option to ‘power up’ your favourite rapper’s performance and to decide which rapper’s set was the best, thus crowning him the winner.
I downloaded the app myself for use at their tour stop in Atlanta, Georgia and it wasn’t hard to miss the amount of other fans who did the same – particularly the guy standing next to me, who couldn’t prise himself away from it. As an ingenious way to get people talking and to make fans feel much more included in the concert than they usually would have, this campaign worked really well.
Despite being notoriously private when it comes to her personal life, mega songstress Beyoncé has found a way to take control of her privacy by strategically using photo-based social platforms, Instagram and Tumblr, to tease candid family moments as well as new music and her latest album.
The award-winning singer has shunned Twitter, leaving her devoted fan base (affectionately known as the Beyhive) itching to know more about her everyday life and upcoming projects.
Knowing that she has the Beyhive constantly at the edge of their seats and keen to keep them there, Beyoncé uploads various carefully shot and beautifully edited images of herself on tour, on video sets and on holiday with husband Jay Z.
Even though she also post photos with her daughter Blue Ivy, Beyoncé famously chose to not reveal her first-born’s face on social media for over a year, opting instead to gives fans a glimpse of Blue’s hand or the back of her head. Always. Leaving. Us. Wanting. More.
This shrewd social strategy meant that when it was finally time for Beyoncé’s Life Is But a Dream documentary to air in 2013 on HBO, 1.8 million viewers tuned into the initial broadcast in order to catch the very first footage of Blue Ivy’s adorable face – the unveiling of which had been teased countless times in the documentary’s trailer.
The documentary aired around the same time Beyoncé began her jaw-dropping comeback to music, after taking a year out to focus on being a mother. Everything seamlessly slotted into place for Queen B in 2013 and she couldn’t have made as big an impact without social media in her arsenal.
There would be no list without including the global phenomenon that is One Direction (and I can’t fill this entire list with just hip-hop and R&B stars!) Granted, it helps that 1D already had an insanely large fan base that loyally followed them onto each social platform they decided to appear on after The X Factor, however these five record-breaking singers have consistently found unique and creative ways to keep their Directioners engaged and crying out (quite literally) for more.
One of the standout social media campaigns created by the group in 2013 was the introduction of the first ever 1D Day. Initially teased by band member Niall Horan on Twitter, 1D Day consisted of a seven hour global live stream with the boys and various other celebrity guests, which was hosted on YouTube and Google+.
The live stream also included behind the scenes footage, YouTube fan challenges, competition-specific hashtags and Google+ hangouts. Almost every single social platform you can think of, One Direction used it. And to great effect.
The entire stream was available to watch on the 1D YouTube channel for just three days only, instilling the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) that is so common on social media into their Directioners.
1D Day took place two days before One Direction’s third studio album, Midnight Memories, was released and proved to be an truly inventive piece of promo for the project.
Last year, rap superstar Snoop Dogg dominated social media by successfully managing to use various social platforms as part of a campaign to introduce fans to his new identity: Snoop Lion.
The multifaceted artist was conscious not to leave fans out of his transition from Dogg to Lion and kept them up to date with his journey via the Reincarnated Track Notes app, which gave a behind the scenes look at the making of Snoop’s Reincarnated reggae album and was downloaded over 20,000 times.
Alongside that, he also released a hugely popular Snoopify sticker app, conducted a Reddit Ask Me Anything session for three hours, teamed up with Mashable for a Twitter Q&A and hosted a weekly news show on YouTube.
As a result of his wide ranging social media efforts, Snoop became one of the top 10 most influential people on Twitter last year with over 11 million followers. In addition, he accumulated 31 million Facebook fans, over 2.6 million Instagram followers, and over 2.8 million Reddit page views.
To top it all off, earlier this year he earned himself a place as a finalist for the Best Use Of Social Media in Music at the 6th Annual Shorty Industry Awards, which honour the best brands, professionals and agencies on social.
So next time you’re stuck in a creative rut and wondering how best to market your brand on social media, it’s worth taking some inspiration from your favourite chart-topper.
Can you think of any other artists that are winning when it comes to social media? Tweet me and let me know! @natashananner