Customer Experience News & Trends

10 social media lessons from Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson … and more

When it comes to social media, most businesses can learn a thing or two from dead celebrities, pop singers, wizards and classic cartoons.

Barely a decade ago, celebrities rarely interacted with their “customers,” leaving them few opportunities to build a brand, an image and an empire. Sure, fans watched them from a distance — on televisions, in movie theaters and at red carpet events. And aside from a few fan letters that were funneled through interns and agents, actual interaction between celebrities and fans didn’t exist.

Ahead of the rest

Then social media exploded and celebrities got savvy quickly. In fact, many of them became better at reeling in their customers, improving their sales and establishing deeper relationships via social media than businesses.

Here are 10 of the most popular celebrities on social media — according to trending watchdog Likester — and how their approaches can work for nearly any business trying to connect with more customers in the social world:

1. Eminem

eminem 2009This rapper keeps it all business on Facebook. He doesn’t post personal photos, instead focusing on his business — videos, tour dates and details, music availability updates — and has 76.6 million fans to show for it.

More interesting, he has even offered his own mobile game “Bad Meets Evil” for fans to play.

What businesses can do: Even though the premise of Eminem’s game isn’t so good (get into Hell), the idea can work. For instance, in Eminem’s game, fans hear his music. Offer customers some way to interact while they learn more about your organization.

2. Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga courtesy Bobby Charlton, via Wikimedia CommonsIf you want to talk about customer loyalty, you can’t get far into the conversation without bringing up Lady Gaga. She’s done such a good job building a relationship with her fans they consider themselves an army of “Little Monsters.” The key to her connecting with 59.6 million fans: She lets her personality pour out. Customers feel like they know her and can relate to her. What’s more, she uses her site to build membership into her philanthropic organization, the Born This Way Foundation, and she offers a newsletter.

What businesses can do: Making customers part of more than just your organization is a goodwill effort that often pays off in business. Gaga’s efforts to do good through her foundation, which is promoted on her Facebook page, has earned more fans than her music alone could.

3. Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson with the ReagansHe’s been deceased for four years and his number of Facebook fans is still increasing — 65 million and counting! To put it in perspective, most families probably have at least one Proctor & Gamble product in their homes right now, yet P&G has about 136,000 Facebook fans.

How does he have such a pull from the grave? His fan page includes trivia, songs, quotes, photos, vintage items and videos. It’s the stuff long-time fans eat up.

What businesses can do: If you know what customers love, feed it to them early and often. Don’t just give them promotional information in social media. Give them information that will make them smarter, happier and savvier.

4. The Simpsons

'The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror XXIV' from FoxThey aren’t even real people, and at 68.1 million fans, the Simpsons have more people checking them out than President Barack Obama (36.8 million) and past President George W. Bush (2.6 million) have combined.

What do Homer, Bart, Marge, Lisa and Maggie do so well? For one, they post daily comments on highlights from episodes and behind-the-scenes bits. Then they ask fans questions or give opinions — such as which character should or will pass away in an upcoming episode.

What businesses can do: If you’re going to have a social media presence, be vigilant. Customers will continue to follow as long as you give them fresh information every day and opportunities to be part of the decisions you make.

5. Will Smith

Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith with their children Jaden and Willow at The Nobel Peace Prize Concert 2009The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air grew up and became so social media savvy that he has a 53 million fans keeping up with him every day. Will Smith takes the opposite approach as Eminem: He keeps his fans up to date with his kids, wife and latest acting gigs. He even asks his fans to support the causes he does — such as registering to vote and providing clean water to developing nations.

What businesses can do: Show your personal side, if it works in your industry. For instance, some businesses follow two of Will Smith’s best practices by posting photos and details of their employees volunteering on company time for local charities.

6. Avril Lavigne

Avril Lavigne on her Black Star Tour,May 2011,photo by Mikhail Teguh Pribadi , via Wikimedia CommonsThis artist has gained 46 million Facebook fans by revealing a lot about herself – and we’re not talking about wardrobe malfunctions or shocking Grammy appearances. Avril Lavigne likes to share the stories and music of her counterparts.

What businesses can do: Sure, you want to promote your own stuff and events. But be a good business neighbor and make better customer friends. Share ideas and information from other businesses (there are plenty that aren’t direct competitors) that will be pertinent, interesting and helpful to your customers.

7. South Park

SouthParkHDThey’re raunchy, politically incorrect and make most mothers’ cringe, but the Comedy Central cartoon characters managed to gather 48 million fans. Part of their success has been the ability to homogenize, rather than specialize. The creators make daily posts with memorable show quotes, trivia and photos that tie the show to current events. It’s a way to keep fans interested even when new shows aren’t being written or there isn’t anything newsworthy going on with South Park.

What businesses can do: Make your posts meaningful in the world where your customers live. Look for tie-ins to current events, seasons (sports, cultural or otherwise) and special interests your customers have.

8. Linkin Park

Linkin ParkThe rock band Linkin Park has 57.1 million fans who get exclusive backstage access on its Facebook page. They also put up rehearsal footage and post personal announcements for new music. They’ve become their own best advertisers.

What businesses can do: Give customers a “backstage look.” Post images and videos of your products being made by your employees or used by customers.

9. Harry Potter

ss-front-710pxThis kid only exists in a world that doesn’t exist, and he has 66 million fans waiting to hear what he’ll do next. Never mind that, Harry Potter isn’t doing anything next because the uber-popular book and movie series has come to an end — and its Facebook page still has more fans than its book publisher (Bloomsbury, 5,000 fans) and movie producer (Warner Brothers, 1.76 million fans) combined.

Harry Potter’s Facebook page creators keep it relevant by updating fans with recent news from their favorite Harry Potter movie actors. Plus, they continue to promote things at the right time — such as costumes before Halloween and Potter-themed vacation spots before summer.

What businesses can do: Many businesses keep customers interested in their Facebook pages by re-igniting conversations about things from the past. For instance, some food and candy makers bring up confections no longer made, and then invite customers to share memories of those things they once loved. In some cases, it has helped with market research on products to create or re-introduce.

10. Bob Marley

Bob MarleyLike Jackson, he’s no longer with us. In fact, he’s been deceased much longer than the social media-savvy generation has even been alive — and he’s still gathered more fans than most businesses – to the tune of 50.1 million. Bob Marley’s Facebook page pulls fans in because it shares quotes and photos — some quite unique to what people are used to seeing. It also allows fans to purchase Marley-themed purses, shirts and music.

What businesses can do: While purchasing directly from a Facebook page isn’t completely new, it’s not widely used by businesses so far. Most Facebook pages have customers click through to their retail site. To eliminate the extra step, look into offering direct purchases on your Facebook page.

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