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Archive for June, 2012

Jun 29

In honor of the BET Awards this wknd – 2011 SXSW Panel Pic from BET’s “Baby I’m a Star Panel” – Melanie Fiona and I represented for the Girl Power balance…

Generally, when people think of “social media,” they envision the platform side of things, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Path, Foursquare, Tumblr, etc.  Well, when working on the “Born This Way” release, we were responsible for having a much broader view of things, at least, those of us ‘riding the bench’ at social media and digital strategy agency.

While most of the larger “all hands” meetings were dedicated to reviewing the major touchpoints of the album, which I’ve outlined in previous posts, and which have been discussed in the Mashable article, amongst other features, I think that some additionally interesting work was being done in the break out sessions that my team was responsible for.  I thought that this information might be particularly helpful for you and your own pursuits in social media marketing and branding.

If you had the chance to read “Life as a ‘Bench Player’ on Lady Gaga’s Team – ‘Born This Way’ Launch Edition,” you would see the word “touchpoints” listed very frequently, as I personally felt like that was a key element to the campaign.  The objective was to create as many touchpoints as possible, or places and ways in which fans and potential customers could interact with the album on their turf and (mostly) on their terms.  We wanted to bring the album to them.

Well, another element that fits into the concept of touchpoints, which is very, very important, is blogs (awkward construction, but yes grammatically correct “is blogs” – go figure).   A large part of a digital/social media marketing agency’s job is to have their finger on the pulse of the universe of blogs in existence, classified across all of the various possibilities of lifestyle verticals.  We had and actively developed and maintained robust lists or indexes of blogs for unimaginable segments, from as broad as fashion and pop music, to fantasy book readers (because we had some early information that a unicorn would in some way be involved in the album and its graphical elements).

The idea was to find as many different lifestyle intersections as possible with the album and essentially create windows into the project from that lifestyle perspective.  The unicorn example is a great one – ok, so there will be unicorns?  Who would be interested in that?  Fantasy book readers?  Ok, let’s find out where they live online.  Now, who else?  With that information, we were then armed to super-serve those people, where they reside, with content relevant to them, but that also tied into the larger project.  In this way, you give the audience an authentic and personalized entry point, but still maintain the integrity of the project.  Think of an octopus with specially-themed tentacles.

This can work for you as well.  The beauty of social media is not only just the ability to get your message out there, but it is also to be able to better understand (first) and then specifically target (second) potential customers (or employers, fans, listeners, viewers, etc.) by bringing relevant tentacles of your project directly to them, where they normally reside online.

If you want to learn more about this “tentacle” approach in the aspect of social media marketing and brand development concerning blogs, my book “Piece of the Fame” contains a great interview with Paul Brunson (star of OWN Network’s new show Lovetown) as he discusses building his brand in 18 months nearly exclusively via the Internet.

Jun 11

The huge "Thank You" Flower arrangement + champagne sent to me from Troy, Vince and Gaga following the successful release of "Born This Way"

 

I’m still catching up with all of the outpouring of positive comments, new connections and contacts from Friday’s feature on Mashable syndicated from Business News Daily.  I know that people must be curious to know what it was like to work on Lady Gaga’s team, and I have to say that it was a far cry from what it would appear based on a certain comment made.

First, there was really no “I” in team.  We all worked tirelessly to make this a successful project.  From my team that worked for me at Atom Digital, to the team at the label, the management team, to everyone from the receptionist, to the woman at the top – we all pushed on overdrive for this record. We wanted to break records and were constantly trying to figure out how to leverage everything possible to make that happen.   It was an effort to create as many touchpoints as possible.  Remember that term, touchpoints, it will become important later.

Second, there was a lot of hard work.  From everyone, especially Gaga.  I remember being at the Oakland, California show, which was on the same night as the Google visit (what an incredible day, I got to meet Larry Page and Marissa Mayer, who are my kind of tech rockstars) for Google goes Gaga.

Not only did she do the fabulous interview (accessible here), but she also sat through a pretty extensive meeting that I can’t tell you about because I had to sign an NDA.

Let’s just say that of the 15+ people in the room, I was one and Gaga was another, Larry Page was another…amazing.  But even geek-ish excitement is not what I remember most about that day.  It was Gaga’s work ethic.  She performed a 2-hour concert and then after backstage, had almost 100 people to individually meet, greet, take pictures with and play samples for of her (then) new album.   And she treated the last person just as graciously (if not more) as she did the first.  We didn’t wrap up until after 3:30 am.  She was ready to head out to a club to party with the boys and meanwhile, I was exhausted by the day’s events, in the tour production office dazed waiting for a ride to my hotel to try to be ready for Twitter and Zynga the next day.  She definitely outworked me, by far…this too is something to take note of if you’re looking for your own success.

Third, more ideas were generated than actual things we were able to fully accomplish.  There were meetings upon meetings starting early into the process with the one question of “how can we make this even bigger?”  When you have that one question driving the conversation, and if asked repeatedly, you get some pretty great responses.  There was an idea for a “takeover” of various locations in New York  (including Central Park), my personal favorite was “Born This Way” pop-up shops (party storefronts), and then there was the idea of getting a record…and a “healthy sandwich” at the same time (would have made for a massive “retail” footprint).  BTW (by the way, not “born this way”), did you know that the largest retail music distributor in Indonesia is Kentucky Fried Chicken?  But, anyway, I digress.

As the executive vice president, in charge of the digital marketing and strategy agency, we were responsible for being there, at every meeting, ready with ideas and solutions to help make this project successful.  Not for the benefit of taking credit, but for the possibility of contributing to something groundbreaking and incredible.

Other than for the benefit of this post, I really hate the idea that was introduced of the concept of a “bench player.” From my role as the head of the digital strategy agency, to the project managers and account coordinators that worked for me, absolutely no one fit that description, nor should they feel that they did.  As the leader of any organization, I would never use such a term.  It just doesn’t exist in the context of a successful team.  Oh well, it’s out there, so I might as well own it.  Shout out to all the other “bench players” with Championship rings! (If you know of any specific names of these players, please let me know – maybe I should do a tribute video).

As far as the “Championship,” it was the result of many practice and strategy sessions, strategic planning and insights, ideas, dreams, actions and much effort.

If you’re reading this and dreaming of your own success, my key takeaway for you would be the following, find the touchpoints, whether they be blogs that your audience reads, places where they might go for coffee, other thought leaders in your space, YouTube videos, Google AdWords, magazines, newspapers, whatever you can identify, and maximize the number of them that you incorporate into your campaign.

In a later post, I’ll also speak about the importance of email and the role of the most important touchpoint of all, connecting to a customer at the retail point of sale, particularly online.  I don’t know how many were aware, but in my opinion, one of the strongest pushes came from online retailer iTunes, who emailed every one of their customers who had ever bought a Lady Gaga track.  First time in iTunes history that happened.   I could only find Perez Hilton’s coverage of it, but see here.

And finally, work ethic is the most important.  Be willing to work harder than everyone else, including all of the “bench players” comprising your team.

My best, Jaunique

And by the way, if you’re interested in reading more about my thoughts on successful social media strategy, I encourage you to check out my book, “Piece of the Fame” available on Amazon and the iBookstore

Jun 09

Wow, Mashable.  As a dedicated reader of Mashable, BusinessNewsDaily, NME, TechCrunch, PandoDaily and the numerous other media platforms that describe aspects of my industry, or at least a large portion of it (amen to my Google RSS Reader), I was humbled and excited to see the recent article discussing some of my previous work with Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” album during the time that I was running the Atom Digital agency.  Even more awe-some (yes, I do mean it that way, awe-some) was the literal outpouring of kind words, outreach, contacts and connections with some pretty amazing people.  So again, wow, Mashable!  And double WOW BusinessNewsDaily, where the original article was published.

And if we’re just “meeting” because of Mashable, or Fox News, or even word of mouth, I’d like to welcome you and let you know that I plan to stay interesting enough to hopefully keep you coming back.  I have a lot to share.

My blog has been a little silent lately because in addition to speaking/consulting and the associated travel, I’m hard at work on a Webisode series (found an amazing editor who matches my sense of humor) and I thought that might be more engaging than just words on a page.   Time crunch aside, what I did want to take the opportunity to do, here, was to add more context and color to the strategy work that I did with Lady Gaga and hopefully give people (or you, who’s reading) more info that they can use.

First, the “Born This Way” album was a major, major release.  It had so many touchpoints that were worked on by so many people, it almost could be the subject of its own book (or its own Mashable post that you can access here).  The directive for the team (including the management team, my team which was the Atom Digital digital/social media marketing and strategy agency, the label, and the PR team) was to bring the album to as many people as possible.  But, that’s the directive for most albums.  Where this strategy differed, was to bring the album to people, where they were.  So, you like to hang out in coffee shops?  Great, we’re going to bring you the album in the coffee shop and give you the opportunity to hear it there.  You like to play Farmville? Great, we’re going to place the album in the middle of your game play in a compelling and interesting way, authentic to Gaga’s brand.  You like to shop?  Great, come see what’s on Gilt and by the way, check out the album.  The same philosophy went for the iTunes countdown, the Google Chrome commercial, the HBO Concert and everything else.  In fact, if we had managed to pull off everything we planned, you would have truly had your socks and shoes knocked off.  But this was all in the effort to make it easy for you the customer, and you the potential customer, fan, friend, follower and listener, to have access to a product that everyone felt we could stand behind, because of the quality and the devotion in putting it together.

And, I guess the results speak for themselves.  And like I said in the Mashable article, I would never take the credit for the success of something that large.  I did my best and played my role, as did everyone else, with tireless effort.  Props to the team, and most of all props go to Gaga for her vision + passion and work ethic that I had the privilege of observing on numerous occasions.

Anyway, I’m breaking my own rule of brevity, but I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t take the time to acknowledge that I might have a few new readers and friends these days.  Stay tuned, I’ll make sure to keep it coming.  My best, Jaunique