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The Influencers
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From Taylor Swift to Katy Perry: How Musicians Are Conquering Social Media Advertising

Tracks & Fields, 4 months, 3 weeks ago

INFLUENCER: Tracks and Fields’ Bryonie Carolan digs into the numbers that prove how musicians are the key to making a brand’s social media strategy sing

From Taylor Swift to Katy Perry: How Musicians Are Conquering Social Media Advertising

It’s no secret now that the world, and advertising, is becoming an increasingly digital place. According to creative agency We Are Social, mobile is leading the way, with 3.79 billion unique mobile users around the world (that’s around half of the global population). However, social media is also making major strides with a whopping 2.31 billion social media users out there, a global reach of 31 per cent.

For advertising, social media plays an important role in creating brand awareness and maintaining brand reputation. Social media advertising can prove profitable to both brands and even for social networks. Facebook’s advertising first-quarter revenue this week surged past analysts’ first estimates, earning the social network $5.38 billion.

Outside of paid advertising, brands’ own-run social media accounts provide unique consumer relationships and reach; Coca-Cola is currently the most liked brand on Facebook with over 97.21 million likes. However, celebrity social media endorsements can also strengthen branding through user influence. 

While you might think that celebrities such as the Kardashians are the leading social media influencers, this week the Global Music Report announced that musicians are fuelling social media networks’ revenues. According to the report, musicians are topping the charts by earning record numbers of social media followers and driving social media network usage as a result. With followers in the millions, the social media accounts of musicians are not just providing a method of connecting fans to artists, but they can also provide lucrative opportunities for brands who manage to score a product placement.


The Social Media Potential of Musicians

According to the Global Music Report, musicians are dominating numerous social media networks. On Twitter seven out of the top 10 most-followed accounts are musicians with singer Katy Perry topping the list at over 86 million followers.

Meanwhile, music videos are fuelling the bulk of YouTube’s views. The top 10 most watched YouTube videos are all music videos. South Korean singer PSY is placed firmly at number 1 with his 2012 hit ‘Gangnam Style’ holding over 2.55 billion views.

On Facebook, music artists make up 8 out of the 12 most liked ‘real people’ fan pages according to statistic website Statista. The Columbian singer Shakira leads the number of likes for musicians on Facebook with over 104.45 million likes as of April 2016.

‘Likes’ can give us a clue about the size of a musician’s own fan base is, however if we want to consider the social media power of musicians, there’s no greater example than the recent release of Beyonce’s visual album ‘Lemonade’ in April. The release of the album sent social networks buzzing. ‘Lemonade’ quickly became the top trending topic on Facebook and Twitter, connecting people worldwide in what The Guardian called a ‘cultural pop phenomenon’.

It quickly became a frenzy and CNN’s entertainment section reported on the diverse social media reactions of fans. While some fans took to social media to discuss live reactions to the album’s release, on Instagram, an angry fan base quickly swarmed the accounts of women who Beyonce’s husband Jay Z had allegedly cheated with. The album’s release triggered diverse social media reactions. 

It was social media that broke the news of the album to fans and non-fans alike through shares and trending topics, and it was social media that kept the conversation going.


Social Media Advertising - Moving Away from Traditional Celebrity Endorsement

For brands, advertising with a musician via social media can harness the power of an artist’s social media influence. The numbers of followers and likes alone makes business sense in being able to target millions of people.

However, unlike traditional celebrity endorsement, social media celebrity endorsement requires the advertisers to be savvy, making the advert look natural.

On social media networks like Instagram, fans have the opportunity to share in the day-to-day lives of an artist. Photos give them glimpses into the parts of artists’ lives usually hidden away from them. This gives a sense of connectedness between the artist and their fans. In order to be successful, brands need to be subtle in their appearance. Social media posts cannot look too obviously like an advert. 


You can find a great example of subtle social media advertising on Katy Perry’s Instagram and Twitter feeds. Currently Perry is promoting American make-up brand Cover Girl’s new Perry-inspired line. In between moments from the singer’s life on Instagram, you can find photos of her holding the lipstick collection. On the singer’s Twitter account, her website link re-directs straight to Walmart’s homepage and her cover photo displays the whole range of lipstick. With the most followed Twitter account out there, Perry’s social media endorsement of Cover Girl is boosting the make-up brand’s image to millions of people worldwide.

But it’s not just Cover Girl the singer is endorsing; check out the Instagram photo of the singer’s dog in an Adidas hoodie. Named as Forbes’ third highest paid celebrity of 2015, the savvy businesswoman is also a celebrity endorser for Adidas. The candid photo of the singer’s dog isn’t just cute, it’s a business deal.

Celebrity social media endorsement requires brands to re-think traditional celebrity endorsement, it needs fans to believe that the brand is a believable part of a musician’s life. In the case of Katy Perry, that even means using a musician’s dog for product placement.

 

Finding the Perfect Match – Musicians and Brands:

Matching a musician to a brand works well when a celebrity holds the same values that a brand represents or if a celebrity holds certain values that the brand wants to be associated with.

These values could be certain ideas that the musician holds about charitable causes, such as P!nk’s regular promotion of the UNICEF on her Twitter. However, musicians can also help brands reach a desirable target audience. In the recent US presidential elections, certain musicians have been able to represent election candidates as more modern and cool. Take for example the singer of indie rock band Vampire Weekend, Ezra Koenig’s continued social media promotion of Bernie Sanders and his concerts with other indie musicians at Sanders’ rallies. Koenig’s appearances promote Sanders to a youthful audience who listened to Vampire Weekend as teenagers, follow the band on Instagram, and are now eligible to vote in the presidential elections.

Aside from political causes, brands can make a successful partnership with musicians over social media when their own ideas about music align – for instance Taylor Swift and Apple Music’s partnership.

The recent Tay Tay Apple ads were a long time in the making. Swift, who holds a massive 76.7 million followers on Twitter, stirred up controversy for the streaming service Apple Music in 2015 when she wrote a blog post on Tumblr ranting at Apple’s unfair artist royalty fee payments. Swift is also currently not streaming her music on Spotify due to her disagreement over royalty fees. Before withdrawing her tunes from Spotify, her music made up 25 per cent of listens on Spotify. Right now, her popularity level isn’t just stratospheric, it’s galactic. Clearly, Apple Music decided to re-think their royalty fee payment. In a series of tweets then promoting the service, Taylor Swift announced her decision to put her album on Apple Music.



Flash forward to the start of 2016 and the Apple Music-Swift disagreement is safely hidden under the carpet. Swift is currently promoting the service with Instagram videos of her Apple Music adverts and links on Twitter to buy her current boyfriend Calvin Harris’ single on Apple Music. Swift’s latest share of her Apple Music advert on her Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts quickly turned the advert viral, reportedly reaching 2 million views in two hours.

Swift’s successful social media endorsement of Apple Music only worked once the two were aligned in their values. The singer, who is very vocal about the payment of royalty fees, could have caused damage to Apple Music’s reputation. For Apple Music, the brand’s match with Swift portrays the brand as a more ethical streaming service in comparison to its competitors. By teaming up with Swift, the streaming service demonstrates that it listens to musicians.

Finding the perfect musician for a brand’s values can help advertising reach unexpected numbers of people worldwide via social media. In the case of Swift, digging into a musician’s fan base can create adverts that are viral hits seen by millions worldwide.

Genre: Music performance