At midnight last Thursday, Beyoncé put her own stamp on social media marketing. She bypassed the traditional music industry marketing machine and released a brand new album directly to her fans — on Instagram. Her team was so successful in avoiding leaks that it was a complete surprise.
Ben Sisario reported the unexpected release in The New York Times:
“The release of a blockbuster album has historically come with a few standard marketing moves. Flood the radio with an early single. Book as many TV appearances as possible. Line up partnerships with big retailers and consumer brands.
But at midnight on Thursday, when Beyoncé released her latest album, she did none of those things. Instead, she merely wrote, “Surprise!” to her more than eight million Instagram followers, and the full album — all 14 songs and 17 videos of it — appeared for sale on iTunes.
The stealth rollout of the album, “Beyoncé,” upended the music industry’s conventional wisdom, and was a smashing success.”
The Take Away for Traditional Business Leaders
What can more traditional C.E.O.’s and other business leaders take away from Beyoncé’s successful stealth move? The most important is that social media is a tool that enables users to take ownership of their message.
In online reputation management, the more control you have over the information about your brand online, the more well-balanced your online image is. If it is authentic, interesting and informative, it will have credibility.
Using social media to communicate directly to the public, with no filter of spokesperson or other third parties, enables your message to be viewed exactly as you intend it to be. You still can’t change how the media, critics and consumers respond, but you have complete management over what, how and when you introduce what you want them to know. That results in a more authentic picture of your point of view – one that is less easily skewed by others. It also enables a message that the media can use — including national news outlets.
In more traditional corporate cultures, doing this requires the participation of a lot of team members – including risk, compliance and legal officers. So planning such strategies and having them in your playbook before you need them, is a good strategy for 2014.
Above: Beyonce, Montreal 2013, by Nat Ch Villa