Believe it or not: An 18-year-old boy wonder has the magic viral touch that only a marketing wizard can possess. I’m talking, of course, about pop phenom Justin Bieber, whose new album, Believe, will be released June 19.
How contagious is Bieber Fever? Basically, when he sneezes (or gets a haircut, or goes to bed), 17.8 million Twitter followers take note. Ever since his mom posted homespun YouTube videos of the then 14-year-old Canadian teeny bopper, he has been the ultimate rags-to-riches story of social media fame, consistently among the most Tweeted, shared and viewed celebrities on the social web. His astounding digital reach has made beliebers out of the most skeptical of marketers.
Consider the numbers that show his vast online influence: In 2010, Justin accounted for 3 percent of all Twitter traffic. He has also clocked in 37 million Facebook “likes” and was the first to reach 2 billion views on YouTube last year. Love or hate him, this teen idol’s social media marketing strategy is such a stand-out that he was the number one trending topic of 2011.
Bieber by the Numbers:
- Ranks third on 100 top celeb list
- 15 million albums sold
- Concert film Never Say Never pulls in $100 million
- Someday fragrance, does $60 million in sales during first six months
- Grand total: $55 million over the past 12 months; $108 million over the past two years
So what’s fueling this digital phenomenon? How can your brand attract such fervent, devoted fans?
Bieber has shown that creating viral content online takes buzz, or, what you may call engagement, conversation, noise. He is constantly Tweeting, re-Tweeting, answering questions, challenging and titillating. (“To thank my fans for supporting Boyfriend, I’m giving away 15,000 iPhone cases.” “Good night world, I love you out there.” “What T-shirt design do you like the best?” “How many days until ‘Believe?’…”)
Face it: There are no secrets anymore in a 24/7 digital petri dish. The more intimate the connection, the better. “It used to be there was a mystery to the artist,” Bieber told Forbes magazine in a cover story on “Justin Bieber, Venture Capitalist.” “Now there’s, like, no mystery—the fans want the connection, they want to see you Instagramming at a coffee shop in the morning.”
Like diva Lady Gaga, another master of direct consumer communication, Bieber’s talent for brandology is all about knowing his target audience: tweens and teen girls. He has plastered his name and face on products important to them: nail polish, perfume, headphones, Barbies and even dental floss, creating a direct pipeline to his customer’s hearts (not to mention their piggybanks). How can you forget about Justin when his picture is on the back of your iPhone protection skin? Part of his potent brand development formula is remaining creative, fluid and responsive, getting close to his audience and understanding their hopes and dreams – and needs. He doesn’t waste his time on trying to be all things to all people: While you can get a Justin Bieber two-piece girl’s pajamas and nightgown, you’d be hard pressed to find boy boxer shorts – boys are just not his main market segment.
We can all take some marketing lessons from Bieber by engaging with “fans,” whoever they may be. Building trust and affection through creative connections and smart targeting is a lesson well learned. And, furthermore make sure your social media chops are equal parts steak and sizzle.. Who knows? Justin may make a “belieber” out of you yet.