How Ambassadors are like Little MonstersSeptember 18, 2014
Every generation of music-lovers has an artist who breaks all the rules, defies convention and dares to be different. We think Lady GaGa certainly ticks all of those boxes, breaking away from the original stereotype of the ‘new Madonna’with which she was initially dubbed.
But this star never ceases to stun the public and media alike. Who can forget the raw meat outfit?! GaGa is someone who looks after her fans, once sending out for $1000 of pizza for a queue of people waiting outside a record shop while she did a signing. In fact, she is so famous for caring about her fans that it was the subject of a special episode of The Simpsons, a role that the singer herself voiced personally. With this kind of attitude towards her fan base, it’s hardly surprising that die-hard Lady GaGa fans – who have the moniker “The Little Monsters” – are unswervingly loyal to their idol. This singer is well aware of her passionate fan base – which some would argue is the most devoted in the industry – and of the potential support they can provide. This is why Lady GaGa has taken extraordinary steps to not just reach out to her fans, but to actually make them part of her franchise. This is the ultimate way of working with brand ambassadors according to the FRTRSS vision.
Investing in loyalty
Long before ARTPOP was released, Gaga was working hard on a new product which on the surface, would be of benefit to her fans, rather than to her directly. Costing more than a $1 million to create, the Little Monsters site was launched providing a hub for the die-hard fans to gather and exchange news and views. But not content with setting up the site to her exact requirements, even creating a new operation dubbed Backplane to do so, GaGa has remained fully engaged, using this platform to connect to her fans on an even closer level. This may sound like an extravagant outlay, and somewhat unnecessary, but it’s just a different approach to promotion. Rather than handing over millions to faceless marketing organisations, GaGa prefers to spend her money on a two-way endeavour; a scheme that will allow her to promote her music in an alternative way but also gives the fans what she believes they deserve.
How fans and ambassadors increase enthusiasm and sales
One of the reasons for Lady GaGa’s phenomenal success is undoubtedly her close relationship with her fans. Unlike many other performers she deliberately seeks out closer and more personal interactions regularly and not just on the sporadic occasion. As a die-hard fan, what is it that you most crave? It’s not a new album, or even a killer single. It’s a sign that your idol cares about you individually, and the chance to be noticed. GaGa delivers on all levels by using LittleMonsters.com as a way of not just collecting marketing data, but by personal interaction. The perfect example is GaGa choosing some of the best fan art uploaded onto the site and printing it on her merchandise for shows. The result? T-shirt sales up by 30% and even more devotees competing to get her attention on the platform. By rewarding followers for their loyalty and making them part of the whole experience, GaGa guarantees not just their faithfulness, but secures their enthusiasm to spread the word on her behalf.
Rewarding engagement leads to increased reach
The list of examples of how the singer has taken care of her fans both individually and in groups could fill many pages on its own. Suffice to say, there’s endless evidence to show how she has not just included them, but allowed them to enjoy the limelight too (such as when she gave a group of devotees the chance to be the first to announce the track listings for her new album via Twitter). But when it comes to promoting her ARTPOP album, how did this work?
In some ways, GaGa had prepared the foundations of her fan relationship so well; she needed to take little action. The prospect of a new release left GaGa supporters chomping at the bit to do their part in raising awareness, and a particularly active group launched a campaign, posting home-made flyers in cities all over the world. With no prompting from either the artist or her record company to do so…an almost unheard of level of dedication. Rather than being the passive followers that traditional pop suggests, GaGa’s previous actions empowered her fans to get involved and spread the word, becoming her unofficial ambassadors.
During the record promotion, GaGa also turned to her ‘One Percenters’, an elite band of supporters who represent the most loyal and dedicated in the whole of her fan base. Some of these set up the hugely successful fan show on YouTube, Radio ARTPOP described as ‘of Little Monsters, for Little Monsters’. GaGa has referred to this show on Twitter, sharing the joy she feels at seeing her supporters connect with each other. Rather than turning to the usual mainstream outlets, the singer leaked previews and snippets of her forthcoming album through this YouTube channel. Exclusively. This gave her fans a voice that no-one else in the media could access, a priceless reward for their devotion.
FRTRSS loves the GaGa style
It would be wrong to suggest that all the promotion was managed via the fans, and there were some more traditional marketing campaigns, such as allowing her music to be used in a car commercial. Also of course, there was the usual round of global press interviews. But Lady GaGa has demonstrated that when it comes to the relationship with her fans, it’s truly a two way street and that she believes that investing in loyalty and believing in their passion, is a far more sound investment than mainstream marketing routes.
As the artist herself says, “I don’t view myself as outrageous, that’s not the intention. It’s to be more and more original”. It would be hard to deny that she has achieved this, even in the promotion of her music.
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