Can we look forward to East-West battles fought in cyberspace?
Never mind MySpace and Facebook. Some major mainstream acts are creating their own social networks – in what is actually a savvy way to better control their digital marketing.
At first, I kind of rolled my eyes when Billboard and Reuters reported that folks as diverse as 50 Cent and the (used-to-be-cool-cabaret-act) Pussycat Dolls were creating their own social networks. Remember when mainstream entertainers (or at least their handlers) finally heard about blogging back in, like, 2005? The result for the most part was lame PR fluff that very few believed was written by the actual actor or singer in question – going against the whole point of blogging, which is to engage the audience on a personal basis. (The big exception to that was Wil Wheaton, the actor who’s become a respected geek culture writer and blogger.)
Of course, all this eventually changed and now many celebrity bloggers do seem to be writing their own posts – straight from the heart rather than the PR desk. Grammatical errors and overly-emotional rants are what give these posts that sense of personal honesty, even if they’re an old-school marketer’s nightmare.
When it comes to social networking, though, it seems the celebrities are already on the ball. First, Ludacris uses his site, WeMix.com, as a way to showcase up-and-coming artists, as well as to write about economic issues facing such artists – and elicit thoughts about all this from his site’s community. Way to engage in two-way conversations with your audience!
More important, though, was this comment from Chris ”Broadway” Romero, director for new media at G-Unit Records, which handles Fitty’s network, called Thisis50: ”The thing that separates Thisis50 from MySpace is we control the e-mail database”¦ We can e-mail members if we want to.”
Now that’s smart. As wonderful as social networks are for entertainers, they’re not the ultimate marketing tool. Most bands still have their own websites (or pages on their labels’ sites) in addition to their MySpace pages. Controlling the database is a natural, and necessary, progression.
Hopefully, the technology that powers Thisis50 lets the rapper reach fans on a highly-targeted basis. For example, if he’s got an upcoming show in Kansas City, it would be great if he could send a special message just to fans who live in that area.
Regardless, the fact that Fitty is concerned about maintaining his database shows that the rapper is on the right track. Just hope he doesn’t use his social network to cyber-bully The Game, old-school-girl style!
Marketing Communications Manager, mobileStorm
”I’d rather you text me”