For anyone who is a big Prince fan the last week has probably been spent watching social media like a hawk! As a prince fan as well as someone with a professional interest in social media I have been watching the drama unfold with interest. He has also managed to create hype on both sides of the Atlantic (and indeed around the globe) by making a cameo in a post-superbowl episode of a sit-com.
A brief recap – on 24th January it announced that Prince would be coming to Lianne LeHavas living room to do a press conference regarding come upcoming London gigs on 3rd February. It was posted on her Facebook wall and other social media sites. UK Prince fans started watching social media that day – not just Liannes account on Facebook and Twitter but also those of his new band who have been drip feeding news about him for some time, @3rdeyegirl and for some of us @3rdeyeboy.
On the other side of the Atlantic, on 2nd February, Prince had a cameo-appearance in the post-Super Bowl episode of “New Girl” where he also launched his new single Pretzelbodylogic. Talk about a big stage! (There was an irony for me in that the closest person to Prince IMHO for pure entertainment in concert is Bruno Mars who did the half time Superbowl performance). Those looking for news on social media also became aware through various channels that he had showed up to his own post-Super Bowl, post-New Girl listening party at The Darby in Chelsea, New York so was highly unlikely to be making any announcements too early on 3rd in London.
Nonetheless, we all checked our phones regularly and the number of tweets about the subject (most complaining about the lack of news) increased throughout the day but no announcement was forthcoming. It wasn’t until the 4th that we saw the first teaser from Lianne (Living Room experience coming soon) and a little later @3rdeyegirl posted an image announcing they were in London.
Back to Lianne and she later posted another picture of her ‘looking fly for the #purpleguy’. The pic was also on instagram! A series of teaser tweets came out from @3rdeyegirl and @3rdeyeboy, @drfunkenberry posted that it was waiting for news. Speculation was growing including a Channel4 news segment on where he might be. Various hashtags got used include #PrinceUKTour #princepressconference #PrinceUKNews
Around 10.30pm, the, up until then, relatively low key manager of Prince @KIKITkiran posted about him heading to the electric ballroom in Camden, mentioning @3rdeyegirl in her tweet and also sending one targeting Channel4news. Interestingly, Prince’s manager now has 7.2K followers – a lot of those signed up following her tweet on Tuesday night (they were likely to be previously following @3rdeyegirl so it popped up on their feed). According to twtrland around 73% are from the UK, which is suggestive of the fact they are UK people waiting for news of the next London date.
A handful of fans headed down to the Electric ballroom in Camden (sadly I was at home being a mum, watching and reminiscing about the last time a gig was announced at 24 hours notice and I did make it!). For those who made the effort, it was worth it – they were rewarded with an hour long ‘open sound check’ – they didn’t even pay to get in the door! At the end of the set, he announced he’d be back tomorrow and a lot earlier.
The next morning (Wednesday), social and mainstream media was awash with news of the gig and also the ‘living room experience’ – which it turns out only 3 journalists were invited too including Matt Everitt from @BBC6MusicNewswho tweeted about his experience (naturally!). The man believes in quality not quantity (and had to consider the practical aspects of a press conference in a living room)
Fans headed down to Camden to be part of that gig and queued long and hard for what I can only imagine was an amazing experience. One of my favourite tweets from Kiran was “So cool! Thanks Zoopla! “@justmusicilike: Thanks for the purple umbrellas @zoopla! #prince 150 mins to go! pic.twitter.com/yTBgVJkom9” – kudos to the Zoopla marketing team for that one!
On Thursday there was a big push from @KIKITkiran and @3rdeyegirl as well as ‘super fan’ accounts to make the new single Number 1 (‘Pretzelbodylogic’ entered the chart UKTop100 chart on Tuesday 4th February . The song debuted at No. 96 but climbed the chart and peaked at No. 64 – at time of writing on 8th february). They also started promoting another of Prince’s groups @WeareKing. I also loved a post gig pic from an artist on Instagram who did an animated gif of his drawings of Prince’s hairstyles through the years
Since then my twitter feed has been awash with tweets about how great the gig was and everyone listening to their old Prince tunes at home but no news of futher gigs. @KIKITkiran does a great job of retweeting (and actually makes it hard to watch for actual news of the next gig!). It will be interesting to watch the next social media frenzy after the next announcement!
So why’s this interesting?
Firstly, the way social media can feed itself in terms of building up anticipation for an event. There were lots of tweets simply moaning about the wait for news. Prince has always liked to keep people guessing and do things last minute and this was a great way using social media to do that. It’s something anyone can do though even if you’ve not got a megstar coming to your front room…build up anticipation for events or product releases with some enticing posts or pictures. (I’m not suggesting you go down the supermarket route however with Easter eggs in shops on boxing day!)
Thinking on your feet can be very effective. The way Zoopla got down to the Electric ballroom with Purple umbrellas and got some extra coverage was great. A lovely bit of brand awareness that tied in nicely. What’s going on you could get involved in? Are you a local business? It doesn’t have to be as expensive as umbrellas, can you provide branded balloons at a kids event if you target parents or pens (maybe get people to complete a marketing questionnaire and keep the pen?)
A hot topic can get you followers if you are relevant and it’s not what you know but who you mention….Kiran Sharma is Prince’s manager but her followers and tweets (and retweets) have gone through the roof. That it was her that broke the news of Prince heading to the Electric ballroom for the ‘open sound check’ put her on peoples radar is she wasn’t already. And she has been tweeting a lot since being in London. I also loved the way she directly engaged channel4news – thereby increasing the reach of that tweet further! Her most popular tweet in terms of retweets? “Just finished w the most amazing press conference I’ve ever been to! 2 songs by@3RDEYEGIRL. THANK U @liannelahavas 4 being a generous host!” (99 retweets). So think about who you can mention, retweet and what you talk about.
It is easy to get caught up in Tweeting and Kiran has certainly done that recently. In her job, connecting with the fans is important so it is probably justified but be careful how much time you spend in Twitter conversations when you could be doing something more profitable for your business. You may also want to consider having both a personal and a professional Twitter account to keep conversations relevant to followers (I keep mine separate).
Choose your channel, but look at cross promotion as well. The majority of social media conversations have been on twitter which has seen the greatest response and interactions by far but teasers were posted on Facebook and Instagram (by Lianne LeHavas) as well. I also love the use of a more traditional media channel and time (TV Superbowl) to create frenzy in the US post episode and concert whilst using a new channel to simultaneously creating a frenzy here in anticipation. Social is a great channel but Facebook may work better for you than Twitter or look at G+, Instagram and Pinterest too. Choose one or two and see what works best for your business. And don’t forget about offline, most of us still spend time in the real world too. What about local radio such as @106jack great for news but also advertising and PR.
The marketing message…diversify get social, find a topic/event/article that is relevant or of interest to you and chat!