Did you know there are over 2 dozen videos on YouTube of Lady Gaga crying during one of her concerts? Most involve her breaking down in response to something her fans have done, but then there’s this video. In that video, a teenager is in line to get Gaga’s autograph, and he’s crying because he’s about to meet Gaga. When he gets up to Gaga he breaks down, and Gaga reaches for him and hugs him for several seconds, then signs his CD, kisses it, and gives it to him. She then says ‘I love you’, and hugs him again.
If you are trying to understand why Lady Gaga is currently the hottest pop/rockstar on the planet, those 30 or so seconds explain all.
It also shows you what you are up against if you are trying to build fans around your social media efforts. If you want to have REAL fans of your brand, or fans of your blog, or your company.
Here’s four more reasons why your efforts aren’t working:
1 – You aren’t participating in the community you are trying to build. Believe it or not, communities do not form around the idea of being monetized. Any community, even one as small as a blog, needs to be cultivated and grown from within. That means you have to be a member of the community you are trying to reach. You have to interact with them, and understand them. More importantly, you have to WANT to do this. If your prime motivation is to collect people in a spot so you can make money off them, your efforts are doomed from the start. And the people you are trying to make money from will smell it a mile off.
You mean you’ve never answered a comment on your blog, and now you wonder why readers have stopped leaving them? It’s the simple stuff, guys.
2 – You aren’t shifting control. By definition, I believe a community is a group of people that have a shared sense of ownership in something larger than themselves. Every member knows that they play a role, no matter how large or small, in shaping the larger community. As your fan-building efforts begin to take root, some members will become more active and begin to take ownership of the growth and vitality of the community. You want to encourage this because as you shift ownership to the community, they will feel empowered and energized. But if you are too fearful and controlling, it’s like cutting off sunshine to a growing plant.
Find the people that are pushing your community forward, and put the spotlight on them. These are YOUR rockstars, and they deserve their time on stage.
3 – Your efforts are focused on the product, not the customer. Please tell me that you don’t think you can create a community of customers that want to come together and tell you how amazing your product is! Seriously? Focus instead on HOW your customers use your product. What problem does it solve? How does it fit into their lifestyle? What benefits do they get from the product?
Focus your community-building efforts on the ‘bigger idea’ behind your product. Here’s some ideas for reframing your efforts, do you want to focus on…
Your cameras……..or photography?
Your luggage for business execs……or travel for busy business execs?
Your eco-friendly outerwear………or conservationism and saving the environment?
Your home decorating products……or home decorating?
Reframing your efforts to create value for the customers you are trying to reach makes it MUCH easier to attract members, and have them take ownership in your community and evangelize it to others.
4 – You don’t embrace the people you are trying to reach. We aren’t idiots. We get that you have to make money off your efforts, but if you truly don’t care about us as people, we will pick up on that and your efforts are doomed from the start. This one is really a ‘you’ve either got it, or you don’t’ proposition. You can’t fake passion for us, and we won’t fake passion for you.
It’s very rare that companies have true fans and evangelists. It’s not that they can’t, but it’s almost always because they aren’t willing to do the things necessary to spark enough of a connection in their customers that they would label themselves as a ‘fan’ of that company.
Hey if it was easy, anyone could be a rockstar…
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Akash Sharma says
Notable points Mack, I have read a lot about her in blog posts,the one which I still remember is a post from Jackie Huba which signifies the power of being socially responsible to your cause from within and not just focusing on making money through your evangelists.The points you have shared are more about embracing in our daily span of work if we want to become real influencers. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Mack Collier says
Yes that post by Jackie on Gaga’s marketing is GREAT, here’s the link:
Mike Stenger says
Lady Gaga really does make her fans feel like their a part of not just the music, but the community. I think she does so well IS because she cares so much about her fans and puts her heart and soul into her music. Not just that but she’s who she is and if you don’t like it, oh well and I think people really connect with it.
.-= Mike Stenger´s last blog ..A Message To Facebook Users =-.
Mack Collier says
Bingo, Mike. That’s the real point in all of this, you actually have to GIVE A DAMN about the people you are trying to reach and you have to be GRATEFUL for any attention they give you. Gaga and most rockstars are, which is a big reason why their customers call themselves ‘fans’.
Ari Herzog says
Do any musicians who achieved fame in post-Napster years not care for their fans? If someone said hi to you, you’d say hi back; why is there an assumption a “celebrity” is not a person like you?
.-= Ari Herzog´s last blog ..16 Video Critiques on Blog Content and Layout =-.
Josiah from HotelMarketingStrategies.com says
It all comes back to actually CARING. Organizations that have a culture where people really care about their customers will find all of this coming naturally.
If you’re small, you can hire people that do this naturally. I find it a bigger challenge to take people who really don’t care and show them why they must.
Thanks for the reminder, Mack!
.-= Josiah from HotelMarketingStrategies.com´s last blog ..15 Well-Designed Hotel Websites (And Why I Like Them) =-.
Mack Collier says
Josiah you hit on the key word, ‘culture’. That’s why it’s tough for companies that have never had that culture to get it, while others like Zappos that were BORN with a culture that cares about its customers, has fans.
Bill Walker says
Good stuff here, especially #1 and #4. It’s worth noting that the reverse, though, is equally important: do people care about your brand? do they want to be identified with your brand?
Many of the brands that actually do have raving fans—re: It’s very rare that companies have true fans and evangelists.—are, in addition to being good at building community, also quite polarizing. Lady Gaga. (And tons of other musicians throughout history.) Apple. Even Toyota these days.
Consumers are more likely to become involved with your brand and active in your community if they actually care. You can help them engage with your brand, but you have to start with an actual offering that is unique and special.
In other words, you have to not only engage and express care for your customers, but also give people something they care about. If your brand is ho-hum, your hill is probably too steep to climb in creating an effective and enjoyable community.
Mack Collier says
Bill I agree and think those are good points. I also think that customers are more likely to be ‘fans’ of a company if their products and marketing are more valuable and relevant to them. And that comes from the company better understanding the customer, which comes from being better connected to them. Thus the importance of interacting with customers in their space, their communities.
Davina K. Brewer says
Mack, ITA with you about how some rock stars really give a damn about their audience. At a celebrity charity event a few years ago, I was impressed by the musicians who really took the time to sign autographs, talk to fans. The fans make their career and they know it.
The audience, the fans, the customers… they are why you are in business. It’s about them, not you.
.-= Davina K. Brewer´s last blog ..FlashForward Marketing: The Future of Your Campaign =-.
Jim Kukral says
“Hey if it was easy, anyone could be a rockstar…”
What bothers me is that people seem to think that if you use social media for business purposes, that you don’t care about people? So not true. I care so much about the people who I reach. I go out of my way to help those people, for free most of the time. I probably spend 25% of my time each week answering questions and working with people who can’t afford me and just need help. I create content for free to give them. I answer EVERY email. I f-ing care about them, a lot. I give until it hurts.
I just don’t have time to “engage” them about every detail. That’s the difference, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Mack Collier says
Hey Jim. I think it’s always a fine line for a blogger to walk as far as how much or how little engagement they should have with their bloggers. You have some people that answer every comment religiously, then you have some that almost never add any.
My strategy is that I try to answer enough to let my readers know I am watching and participating BUT….I want to stay out of their way at the same time.
So I guess I’m walking the line as well, I want my readers to know I will join in the conversation, but I don’t want to dominate it. My readers as a group are ALWAYS smarter than I am, so I want to give them the stage 😉
This was a great post and you definitely made something click for me. I am not a Gaga fan but in a few sentences you made me see her humanity. Thank you. That will help me be a lot more objective. Also you made great points about why our efforts aren’t working. I think in the quest to try to “monetize” you do lose your perspective. Thank you for helping me to see areas where I need to improve.
.-= Toya´s last blog ..Hypocritical Activist: Do you scream for justice but advocate violence? =-.
cynthia bailey md says
Funny that this is the second time today I heard this message and it’s a great one to keep front and center in social media. To help me do this, I started a section of my blog called ‘Ask Dr. Bailey’. My goal was to help kick start the collaboration between my readers and myself in shaping my dermatology/skincare blog’s direction. Readers have sent great questions and they form a topic that I then create content for. I’m often surprised about what topics people want to know more about. I have to ‘tickle’ readers periodically to send me questions. I also use reader comments to direct future content. This is much more fun that just writing in a vacuum.
I realize that I have not gotten questions lately and need to do a tickler, thanks for the reminder.
Cynthia Bailey MD
.-= cynthia bailey md´s last blog ..Use Self-Tanners Like A Pro =-.
Very on point with your analysis, this is Social Media Brandind 101. Though I get the Lady Gaga example, a major factor of how she behaves is not really rooted in social media, but just good public relations; which of course she is trained by her record company.
Mack Collier says
LiBM I don’t think it’s training by her record company (if that was the case anyone could have as passionate a fan base). I think Gaga honestly appreciates and loves her fans.
No biggie, most rockstars do. But I think Gaga is constantly looking for ways to communicate that appreciation and love to her fans.
I think that’s the difference and a big reason why Gaga’s Little Monsters love her.
I recently left a “fan club/street team” for these exact reasons. He wasn’t following any of that. And he faked his caring for his fans and it was obvious. He’s all about money and using people. It is sad really because at one point I believed he had talent. He even got help from being a friend of Adam Lambert’s. And despite all that, more and more I see his fanbase dwindling because of his lack of following these 4 principles.
Michael Brenner says
Great post. Did you see the interview she did for Barbara Walters? Another amazing example of how she connects with her audience. Her demeanor is intelligent and caring as you say but also very, very engaged.
Mack Collier says
Hey Michael, I missed that interview, do you know if it’s online?
In spite of her odd looks, or perhaps because of them, Lady GaGa has become one of the most sought after musicians of our day. I believe one of the big reasons is that she reaches out to her audience and affects them personally. Go GaGa!!!
Gwen@Lady Gaga Costumes says
I have been reading quite a bit lately about on blogs and elsewhere about keeping the focus on the people. I am so encouraged by this. I really thing this is an outgrowth of the internet. When we did things in person we didn’t have to make such and effort. I’m not quite sure how to explain it, but it’s as if in trying to connect with such a vast possible audience we’ve had to look at how to do that and it all comes back to focusing on the people, not the sale. I think its wonderful. As for Lady Gaga, I’m a huge fan and today I got a comment on my little site. My family says she’s too busy, it must have been her staff. That’s not important but from what I’ve seen of her and read about her it would not surprise me too much if she had actually made the comment herself. At any rate, I think she is a class act. And I love her look, obviously.
Alexa B says
Now I know why Lady Gaga has captivated the hearts of her million fans. It is not surprising that lady gaga costumes have been so popular nowadays as featured on sites like http://www.ladygagacostumesite.com.
Lady gaga also provides another lesson for marketers and that’s perserverance. She was not anovernight sensation but rather was panned a year or so ago…but she stepped back, re-tooled and became a mega star. That’s a great lesson
Lady Gaga Games says
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Very inspirational. This post is full of great tips for people like me who just started blogging. I like the comparison with Lady Gaga, it’s really accurate.