Rebecca Black, a 13-year-old girl from Orange County, Calif., becomes an iTunes top seller, reaching No. 31 on the iTunes 200 chart three days after the release of “Friday,” a song that went viral. The video for the song, posted to YouTube on Feb. 10, went from having a couple thousand views to more than 22 million in less than one week (and its current views have topped—get this—61 million). Her name was a Twitter trending topic for 12 consecutive days, outlasting the #PrayForJapan trending topic.
How did I hear of Black? Twitter. I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Who on earth is Rebecca Black, and what could she have possibly done to be a trending topic day after day after day?” Then came her “Good Morning America” interview on March 14, where she admitted to crying after hearing harsh feedback about her song. One scathing tweet about the teen read, “We don’t hate you because you’re famous. You’re famous because we hate you.” Still, the mass exposure she earned via social media wasn’t all bad. Former tough-as-nails American Idol judge, Simon Cowell, told Entertainment Weekly the buzz surrounding Black’s song was “brilliant.”
“Love it!” he said. “I’ve never seen anything cause so much controversy. I think it’s genius. The fact that everyone’s getting upset about it is hysterical. But the fact that it’s making people so angry is brilliant.”
Marketing takeaway: You aren’t in control of the message—that’s up to your audience (or fans). Sometimes, social media propels you in unexpected ways.
Black isn’t alone when it comes to getting exposure via social media—her ultimate celebrity crush got there the same way. As a 12-year-old singing on YouTube, Justin Bieber sparked the attention of So So Def former marketing executive Scooter Braun. And now, Bieber Fever has taken off full blast, as the teen sensation is pulling a loyal fan base of 8.4 million followers on Twitter. How’s that for a target audience?
Marketing takeaway: Your goal on social media might be to gain fans, “likes,” and “followers.” But having a presence on the social Web can catch the eye of key players in your industry and help your brand or company network with the big folks.
Even more rare, in the ever-so-exclusive world of film, actor/comedian Dane Cook was able to finagle his way into the limelight with the help of MySpace. One of the earlier social networking gurus, Cook began using MySpace about five years ago to rack up a following of millions of friends, a feat he reportedly touted to industry execs before landing major movie roles.
Marketing takeaway: Conversion rates and stellar results are what many marketers are ultimately after. But brand credibility (in the form of social media support) can be a key selling point when trying to close your next big deal—or earn some respect.
Social media might be a tough sell for some higher-level execs who aren’t too interested in having a Facebook page, Twitter account, or YouTube channel. But with the right social customer relationship manager, they might end up beating a path to your door. And when opportunity comes knocking, you should answer it.