Lessons from Lady Gaga: What we can Learn from the Queen of Social
It must be acknowledged that, amidst the earnest discussion and digital fabulousness of Social Media Week, there sat a slightly awkward elephant in the room.
A long-expected cull of fake Facebook profiles sliced fan bases down to size in order to reflect real people, and offer genuine value to advertisers.
It turns out that there are fewer people at the party than we liked to assume; we might say the proverbial elephant has left the room, leaving us to our awkward metaphors and inconvenient truths.
Third party tools have revealed thousands of false Twitter followers too, so if there were ever a wake-up call to any brands reaching solely for the big-number glamour of fan totals - this is it.
When measuring performance on social platforms engagement must be king, and the de facto Queen of social herself has some pearls of wisdom to offer on this particular subject.
Admittedly, social savvy celebs suffered considerably from the Facebook fan culls, Lady Gaga losing roughly 65,000, whilst StatusPeople estimate that 72% of her 29 million followers are fake or inactive.
But has she been toppled from her throne? Probably not.
Gaga’s ability to engage across platforms persists on a par with her most avant-garde sartorial endeavours.
The tenets of her success are plain to see: spontaneity, controversy, and candid intimacy shared with the world via passionate, sporadically drunken despatches. And although brands are not people, Gaga’s principles can be roughly translated to reactive content, a willingness to converse openly, and the occasional risk, as our very own Sonia Pavlovic elucidated a few weeks ago.
It’s also tempting to believe that Gaga knew about the gaps in her legions of “little monsters” as she pre-emptively opened the doors to a dedicated fan network by the same name in July. It resembles an appropriately Frankensteinian mash-up of Pinterest and Reddit, and at last count numbered 500,000 members.
This should alert us to the growing importance of second tier networks as interest-specific spaces, which may well emerge as key forces in the ongoing evolution of social.
Gaga recently recruited fan illustrator Helen Green to her Warhol-esque Haus of Gaga collective, showing how an engaged community can become itself an asset to a brand, rather than simply a customer base.
Furthermore, Gaga’s next album will gain fullest expression in multimedia app form. Leveraging mobile to add value and sell music in an industry ravaged by endemic online piracy is the ultimate payoff. Although, technically not first (Björk did it last year), Gaga’s mainstream appeal rubber-stamps this kind of innovation. It points to the game-changing possibilities of a technology in its relative infancy – very much there for the taking.
It’s ironic that Mashable identified Gaga’s vanishing fans as “the equivalent of three Madison Square Gardens packed full of little monsters”, because Gaga’s Born This Way Ball continues to sell-out across continents - testament to her trailblazing embrace of social media and its pan-global possibilities. Long live.
Mark Linford is a Community Manager at Jam.