Baby, Oh… What Justin Bieber Taught Me About Social Media

Awhile back, I saw Guy Kawasaki speak at the Google campus and he said, “The Justin Bieber movie Never Say Never is the best example of social media. Ever.”

Before I go all Bielieber on you, I have to admit Guy Kawasaki was right… technically. Besides The Social Network, I’m assuming there are very few movies that have anything to do with tweeting and Facebooking, which makes the Bieber flick the supreme example of social media in cinematic history by default.

In all seriousness, there is something to be learned from Justin Bieber. Never Say Never might not hold the missing piece to your international media campaign, but this over-produced, three-dimensional docudrama is a great example of the power of a social network and how one Canadian teen used “alternative” media to ride his way to the top.

With that said, here are a few things I took away from my lonely Saturday night with J.B.

1. The Kid Has Talent

No matter what you say about the Beebs, the youngster can draw a crowd. The guy obviously racked up his 10,000 hours of musical practice at an early age. The movie kind of blew my freakin’ socks off when Bieber played his guitar like a set of bongos.

From a social media perspective, Bieber’s ability is the cornerstone to his popularity. Since I got this blog idea from Kawasaki, I’m sure he’d agree that one of the attributing factors for Justin’s rise to stardom was his enchanting talent. Bieber had a good enough product that people on YouTube had to share it with each other. Sometimes, that’s all you need to get noticed.

2. Baby Boomers Don’t Understand His Appeal

To most of us, Bieber represents a baby-face kid who took fashion advice from a mop, but his rise to popularity shows exactly why guys in their mid 50s shouldn’t be in charge of picking the next teen heartthrob.

What’s this all have to do with social media?

Bieber had to forge his own unlikely path on YouTube. To his benefit, he created a ton of videos on Youtube right as the site was peaking in popularity. The rise in traffic and the lack of quality competition made YouTube a perfect storm of viral video success.

Beyond his serendipitous luck in the tech world, one of the unforeseen results from Justin’s video chronicles were the relationships he created with his fans. I warned you about becoming a Bielieber, but just try to watch one of his YouTube clips without feeling like it’s a one-on-one experience. Bieber’s manager (the only self-respecting 30 year old guy named “Scooter”) says, “There’s a sense of ownership when you watch one of Justin’s videos. There isn’t any magic when you listen to him on the radio with a million other people.”

This is the power of discovery through social media. In this case, the power of Bieber online creates a connection so strong, it makes teenage ovaries buzz at an unstoppable frequency.

3. He Knows How to Leverage Social Influence

Bieber may have been popular on YouTube, but Twitter and Facebook are where he really shines. Not only does the pop sensation create chaos with a simple tweet of an appearance at a mall, Justin continually creates social media controversies that his fans can’t get enough of… or figure out that it’s actually him.

Bieber’s latest crisis happened on July 11th, when a “rumor” spread that the pop star’s hit song “Baby” would be deleted from YouTube because it has over 1.5 million dislikes.

The Beeb’s army of brace faced teens were in a tizzy. Even though there was no risk of YouTube pulling the video down (because Bieber’s record company owned the rights to the content) the social media stunt shot #dontdeletebaby to the top of Twitter trending topic as millions of tweets poured in to protest.

The same thing happened in Never Say Never, when Justin suffered from a deadly case of “sore throat” right before his big Madison Square Garden show. Somehow, word got out to his 11 million followers and they willed him back to health through the power of the tweet.

As a whole, Justin Bieber’s social strategy isn’t exactly what you’d call “mind blowing.” He enchants his audience with a great product, promotes himself using a variety of methods and leverages his influence to create more buzz. The only difference is that people feel like they have a close, personal relationship with the pop star. He understands his fans and makes them feel an emotion with every social update, which is something we should all strive for in social media.

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