Guy piqued my interest, which made me add the movie to my Netflix queue, which made my family learn much more about Justin Bieber than they ever wanted to know. And I learned 5 awesome tips for treating your audience well, thanks to the pint-sized fabulously coiffed wonderboy.
1. Know where your audience is. Everyone knows that Justin Bieber was discovered on YouTube. But when opportunity came to him, it didn’t immediately force him into purple baseball caps and toss glittering bags of money at him. Sure, Justin had the ear of some important people, but heneeded to find the earbuds of his target audience. So, when the radio stations refused to play Justin’s music (they didn’t know how to categorize him), he hit the venues all around him, from a water park to a high school gym to just playing acoustic songs on morning shows. He kept posting videos of his singing on YouTube and kept playing at malls and wherever his target audience was. He didn’t wait for them to come running to him, he went running to them.
2. Continually engage your audience. Justin maintained interest in his gigs (no matter how small) by telling people about it. One of the most effective ways he reached out was by using Twitter. Just a little tweet about where he was singing helped pass the word along, and the number of people showing up kept increasing every time. In the movie, Justin is shown tweeting often to tell fans where he will be, what the latest news is, or just to thank fans for caring about him. With 10,474,859 Twitter followers (at the time of writing), Justin maintains a steady stream of communication with them, which means he answers their tweets, retweets their comments, and appears accessible to everyone who follows him.
3. Single out your most devoted fans now and then. A trademark of a Justin Bieber show is the “One Less Lonely Girl” event. A girl is plucked out of the crowd to be on stage with Justin. The girl is guided backstage by Justin’s people then ends up on stage during the song. She sits on a bar stool, receives a bouquet of flowers, and is serenaded the song “One Less Lonely Girl” by Justin. Sure, he does it for every concert; sure, the freshness might wear out at some point, but then I’m not Justin Bieber’s target audience. The girls with “I’m a Belieber” bedazzled on their shirts and crying from joy at the sight of him? Those are his target audience members, and they adore him. So, he shows them some mutual love by putting the spotlight on them. And you know what? I bet you that every single girl who shows up to his concert must, on some level, hold a secret hope that she will be chosen for the “One Less Lonely Girl” number.
4. Reward loyal fans with spontaneous acts of gift-giving. Justin Bieber’s people often have a handful of concert tickets that they give out to loyal Justin Bieber fans. They will check out the throngs of girls hanging out near concerts, girls who want to attend but cannot afford the tickets. And his team just gives them to the girls there. They will also check out the nosebleed seats at his concerts, and they hand out tickets for seat for the very front. Every fan matters, and Justin Bieber’s team lets the fans know this.
5. Show your fans the human side of your business. Justin isn’t perfect, and he doesn’t come off that way. (Well, maybe his hair is.) In the “Never Say Never” flick, Justin is shown in a full light, not flattering, not shadowed. He comes off as a regular boy with an amazing talent, and his life has been a mix of highs and lows. The scenes of arenas filled with screaming fans are interspersed with scenes of Justin being restless backstage, getting scolded by his voice coach, hanging out with his friends, and so on. And when Justin’s throat gives him major problems, the film shows how annoying and isolating it is for him. A poignant shot is of Justin lying in bed and tweeting his fans to let them know he is grateful for their thoughts and prayers for his throat condition. He does not look like a major teen hearthhrob in the shot. He looks like a kid who is feeling down about being silenced, about not being able to perform, about not even being able to chat with his friends. It’s this glimpse of the other side of the sparkling purple-clad teenager that endears him to his fans. The girls get a sense that Justin is very real, very human, and completely accessible.
Whether you’re indifferent to Justin Bieber’s music, a huge fan, or the fan of a raging “Belieber,” you can still a learn a lot about the boy who sells out venues.
What’s your take? Do you have any pop figures that inspire you? I’d love to hear about them! Just let me know about them in the comments.