Social media marketing and the Bieber Fever

August 23rd, 2010 by | 10 Comments

Image by Constantin B.

Mentioning Justin Bieber can surely detonate a bubblegum pop-bomb across the Internet. The overall effect makes prepubescent girls worldwide squeal and weep with excitement, snap up every piece of merchandise bearing his image and make YouTube videos lip synching to his songs.

On the other end of the spectrum, the rest of us merely see him as this migratory meme that just won’t go away. And so sites have been set up dedicated to document his every misfortune, block him from our Web drifting experience and ridicule his overall image.

Love him or absolutely abhor him, these mentions online give him great leverage that raises him as a brand atop the Web trails.

Offline & Online Marketing for Better Results

In the three years since the Canadian singer’s jump into mass consciousness, he (or most likely his marketing/promotions team) has utilized a fine mix of social media and offline marketing tactics pretty well.

In one corner you have the recording label in their traditional marketing schtick with the kid’s lineup of headlining gigs and TV and radio appearances, and in the other you have his very active Twitter account with over four million followers retweeting and responding to his every tweet and a multitude of fan-created Twitter and Facebook profiles reposting, monitoring and filling the online atmosphere with his every move.

The overall combination generates a (near-terrifying) ginormous Bieber cloud over the Web as his name, as a brand, battles it out for top entertainment trends against other tween-fodder celebrities like the Jonas Brothers and the Twilight cast, as well as seasonal titles like this week’s Inception, Scott Pilgrim and The Expendables.

Engage & Develop A Relationship

As one of the many artists who credit social media for their discovery and blitzkrieg-esque rise to fame, the Bieb continues to be a trending topic among the social networks, generating hundreds of results on search engines, over a thousand on YouTube and has been tagged as a constant presence over at WhatTheTrend’s weekly Most Tweeted Brands charts since January this year.

Bieber, in his part, has developed great online communication acumen, carrying to heart social media’s credo of listening to his demographic and actually engaging in conversations. He normally would retweets messages from his fans and responds via @replies. This creates a deeper relationship between him and his followers which, in turn, enhances both brand loyalty and his reputation online. And you simply can’t deny how much of a hyper-pumped promotion engine the entire scenario has become.

The effect is undeniably impressive as the bulk of the brand evangelization is seemingly being carried nowadays by his fans. And they are viciously loyal, defending the pop singer from every critic.

Celebrity Reputation Management

Despite all these advances, Bieber still has a long way to go when it comes to keeping it friendly on the social streams. In addition to the multitude of critics and Internet memery that makes fun of him, he tosses his names closer to the dogs by sending out a tweet containing an offender’s phone number, one Kevin Kristopik.

Though this is retaliatory in nature, it still is a big no-no online especially since it resulted in more than 26,000 text messages from Bieber fever kids lambasting Kristopik for hacking into the Twitter account of one of Bieber’s friends, which way too much. We just hope that he has an unlimited messaging plan with his carrier.

Now this pushes Bieber in his oft-maligned public light, an opportunity his haters love. This is a great argument that smashes the age-old tinsel town adage “Any publicity is good publicity” to the curb. As many brand managers and online marketers know: it’s true, there is a limit to the infamy one’s online character can handle; just ask Mel Gibson or Tiger Woods, for instance.

But obviously, the whole Bieber-Kristopik saga isn’t as morbidly grave as either the alleged alcoholic racist/anti-semitist or the admitted car-crashing marital infidel though we reckon it’ll be a long time before anyone actually forgets about the whole debacle. In fact, we reckon this incident will be cited and for years to come but really, all he needs is a little reputation management. And who doesn’t these days?

Fortunately, social media is also a great reputation management tool, which will enable offenses to get cleared and straightened out with a tweet or a public apology (or most likely some sum to cover the damages). With a brand as massive as Bieber, his marketing team can utilize his fan base for disseminating his message. As of writing, none of these have been done to alleviate the issue and we should see where it leads to in the coming weeks though a lot more transparency would go a long way.

Jumping Back At a Viral Phase

What we found clogging the Reddit tubes earlier last week was musician Nick Pittsinger’s crafty stunt that slowed down Bieber’s the three-minute “U Smile” to 35 minutes of epic ambient goodness. Many Bieber haters were stunned at the resulting track which, admittedly, did sound great and smeared with an ethereal vibe reminiscent of the ambient audios behind Enya songs. A handful of commenters even remarked its resemblance to the general sound crafted by less-hated acts like the Cocteau Twins, Sigur Rόs and a band named Photon Wave Orchestra.

J. BIEBZ – U SMILE 800% SLOWER by Shamantis

Although this didn’t exactly convert the haters into fans, it did show a glimmer of hope, something reputation management specialists can really make use of. Online marketers can easily recognize this as a window of opportunity to examine their brand’s laid out marketing roadmap, measure its current success (or lack of it) and identify any factors that could derail it.

In the case of Bieber’s formulaic but successful traction, third party outputs such as these remixes and mashups can definitely help. And nobody in the Bieber stable even had to lift a finger. This works well with any kind of brand, especially with those who could use some upturn in their online reputation.

Depending on how strategies are handled and how it’s aligned with the overall marketing goals, including viral elements to one’s campaign could prove beneficial. This is to assume that you know enough how to pull it off (and we can easily think of a few that have completely missed the mark and earned more ridicule than fame).

You can, of course, try to jump into viral marketing though we maintain that there really is no fixed formula for strategizing something that’ll spread like wildfire. What works for one brand may not exactly work out for you. To help you figure this out, you need to make a study of your demographic to find out what appeals to them, and what turns them off, throw in something/someone they can relate to, and maybe bring in some humor. With these as your starting guide, you should be able to conjure up a strategy that’ll push your targeted audience’s buttons and keep them hooked to your brand.

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