Justin Bieber: A Social Media Case Study
As a 43-year-old father of a 2-year-old boy, I’m not exactly in the target demo for Justin Bieber. I even listed Mr. Bieber (tongue in cheek) as one of my Top Ten Reasons Why Twitter is Stupid. When my wife asked me to rent his new movie Never Say Never, I decided to try and earn some husband points and watch this monstrosity.
I admit it, I liked it!
Surprising, although I still don’t love the music, I really did like the movie. The kid is very likeable and it’s wild to watch the sheer insanity of thousands of 13-year-old girls lose their minds. The movie also does a decent job of marketing him as a “down-to-earth” 15/16 year old trying to balance his super celebrity status and his desire to still be a teenage boy.
The Power Of Social Media
As a social media addict, I loved the sub-story around the power of social media for Justin. Justin was just starting out – singing on the street with a guitar case in front of him and entering small talent competitions – when he decided to start uploading some of his videos into YouTube. When a music producer named Scooter Braun saw these videos, he felt that the talent was worth investing in and started working with him.
Initially, the record labels simply didn’t see how they’d market him and passed on the opportunity to sign him (whoops, big mistake). As a result, Scooter was forced to take an alternate route – leveraging social media and Justin’s willingness to sing almost anywhere. A relatively short time later, he had over ten million views on YouTube and was signed by Usher. After his single “One Time” and debut album “My World” was released, he had over 100 million YouTube Views.
In the midst of it all, @justinbieber embraced Twitter – showcasing how powerful of a tool it can be. His ability to create a flash mob was demonstrated when an event in NY had to be cancelled when 5000 fans showed up to see him. He remains one of the top trending topics week after week. He’s got over 10M Twitter followers and almost 30M Facebook fans.
Scooter and Justin have continued to push the social media envelope in creative ways. I like this quote from Scooter in an article by Dan Schawbel for Forbes:
“We were in Australia for the first time ever, and everything was shut down. Here we are in Australia and everybody wants to meet Justin, every press outlet, everyone. And we get a twitter sent to me and Justin by @JBSource. The two girls who created it were coming. We know @JBSource because they have over 90 thousand followers. They are one of Justin’s biggest fan clubs. The girl seeks me out. She goes “I’m JBSource, is it possible to interview Justin for our twitter page, and a video interview we can post for the kids.” I went to the label and they said absolutely not. They said “Absolutely not, we’ve already turned down over 100 different outlets; we have no time for these kids.” I said “I don’t think you guys get it, unless they get an interview, we aren’t doing anything because they are the most important interview we’re going to do here.” We canceled some big outlet, and we brought in the kids, with her dad and her two friends. The videotaped an interview with Justin, that he loved doing because he knew who they were. And that’s his favorite thing – communicating directly to the fans. That video was one of the biggest seen videos of that week. That was the video that all the fans watched. They aren’t going on to read some dot com news site. They wanted to go see what the other girl said, she met Justin, what he said to her.”
Never Say Never was released in February 2011 and expectedly used social media to help drive fans to the theatres. This included a web video campaign through JibJab that generated 2.8 million views and 400,000 personalized videos – breaking their records for the most engaged audience. Great stuff.
A funny side story. After watching the movie, I pulled up Never Say Never on IMDB and noticed that it had a rating of 1.1 out of 10. Rotten Tomatoes’ critics gave it an average rating of 64% while Netflix's subscribers gave it a rating of 4.1/5.0. It seems that the Justin Bieber hater crowd has locked on to IMDB as a place to make their voice heard - not that it will have any impact on Justin’s growing bank account.
I’ll never classify myself as a fan of Justin. But, love him or hate him, you have to admire the results.
Sales and marketing professional with 20+ years of experience in new business and product development. Proven ability to leverage technology based solutions and services including social media, e-mail, mobile marketing as well as creative agency campaigns and programs.
Always seeking to push value over noise.