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Is this the Social Media Marketing Tipping Point?

Is this the Social Media Marketing Tipping Point

Social media has been with us for over a decade now.

It hit the public consciousness when MySpace started to steal teenagers attention after it was launched in 2003. MySpace even surpassed Google as the most trafficked website in the USA in 2006. At its zenith it had 1,600 employees and was generating $800 million in revenue.

But nothing is forever.

In 2008 Facebook (which was founded in 2004) took the crown as the top social networking site as its unique visitor numbers exceeded MySpace for the first time.

Where is social media now?

In 2014 Facebook is still dominant with with over 1.15 billion users, Twitter has over 550 million registered users and Google+ has reached 359 million monthly active users.

Social media as a marketing tool for business really started to make its presence felt when Facebook created and launched its self service advertising feature in April 2011. Before that social media marketing was restricted to an organic process. Grow your followers on your social networks and drive traffic to your website or blog with calls to action and links.

Social media has promised much for business marketing because it was free and it had viral super powers. Businesses has seized upon this as it matured and in 2013 according to a CMO survey by Duke University is 6.6% of marketing budgets (about $4.6 billion in dollar terms) and is expected to climb to nearly 16% over the next 5 years.

Social media is being woven into the web and is a subset of the digital universe. To provide some perspective digital ad spend according to eMarketer, accounted for 25% of all media advertising budgets in 2013 with over $42 billion in spending.

So social media is still a small part of digital and marketing budgets. But in reality it has just started

The tipping point?

With the evolution of the web there are some events that are small but significant. One of those happened on December 13, 2013. It was when Beyonce launched her latest album with an update on Instagram just captioned as “Surprise”

This broke convention.

Normally millions are spent on traditional media. Lady Gaga hyped her latest album by spending millions on bus advertising, billboards, 2 pop up stores and performed countless interviews. The result. She sold 305,000 copies in 2 weeks.

Beyonce, who has 8 million Instagram followers and over 53 million fans on Facebook decided to go straight to her fans. She decided to give the bus a miss. It was launched directly to iTunes and social media. She invoked the power of  “World of Mouth”

The results:

  • It sold 828,773 copies in 3 days
  • Twitter reported 1.2 million Tweets in 12 hours
  • It was the largest single week ever in the Apple iTunes store
  • It was iTunes fastest selling album worldwide

The album had been in design and production for over 18 months and was highly visual and was sold as a full album for $15.99 including 14 songs and 17 videos.

This has some implications for marketers and business that goes beyond a celebrity with millions of social media followers.

The lessons and what can you do

You may be not a Lady Gaga, Beyonce or a famous singer but the lessons are there. Start building your “own” digital assets. The world has changed. It is digital and it is social.

  • Take control of your own digital future and build your own online assets and authority.
  • Grow your social networks now. The priorities are still for the most part Facebook and Twitter. It will also depend on the demographic, audience personas, media preferences and industry. So you will also need to consider Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Slideshare and YouTube. It will also be determined by whether you sell to business (B2B) or to consumers (B2C).
  • Create the best content you can. Repurpose it in a range of media including visual.
  • Publish and promote it everywhere on social media.
  • Don’t forget your other digital assets. This includes a blog, search engine optimisation, continue to increase your email subscriber list and keep up your content creation. It also means using content marketing in your mix.
  • Boost your marketing with paid and targeted social media advertising. It doesn’t have to be expensive. You may need to get marketing traction fast and can’t wait to build the social networks from day one.

It sounds rather daunting doesn’t it? But to remain relevant on the social web and to build online authority you have no choice.

Where are you starting today?


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  • What she did was truly eye-opening. Even us little guys can build our presence, serve an audience and make a couple of bucks through social media, it’s truly incredible.

    • Thanks Kimanzi for your comment. But is indeed significant. There are a lot of marketers, brands and businesses that have taken notice. Expect to see this happen a lot more often!

  • I actually had no idea Beyonce did that, I know the reason is the fact that I don’t care about her, but that was interesting to learn about and I’m glad she actually took that one step further. It shows how deep her connection with the fans is.

    I like her music, that’s about it.

    Thanks, Jeff.

  • David A Haines

    This was a great informative article. The examples you give between Lady Gaga and Beyonce was really powerful Jeff. I’ve been working to increase my presence across multiple platforms, but it’s pretty time consuming. I need to find some automated ways, but I’ve always felt those were impersonal. Any suggestions?

    • Thanks for the comments David. The reality is that if you are going to scale your social media efforts you do need to add some automation. I certainly do doe Twitter in my content posting. Social media is also a tool.

  • MarcFarron


  • It’s about time the music industry starts to move on and realize that the labels are a big cash suck in the whole distribution process. As a musician myself, I’ve been watching this evolve all the way back before the Napster deal with Lars Ulrich and his campaign to discredit them.

    Radiohead actually was the first to stake out on their own like this several years ago, offering free downloads of “In Rainbows” for an optional donation. They made good money, with very little overhead (digital file downloads vs. printing/distributing CDs), and a large share of their fans got a free album. Others donated far more than a typical CD cost. It was very cool to watch.

  • Thanks Tema for dropping by and leaving a comment. The point I made at the end of the article was that you don’t have to be a Beyonce to make it work. Yes you will not have her distribution power but you need to start building your own digital and social network distribution to leverage your communication online.

    • temafrank

      OK. That is certainly true.

    • Jesse Kaellis

      Three hundred bucks off? Gee…!

  • Looks like I am in the right place at the right time, just now starting my social platform construction and those numbers sound terrifically impressive to me.

  • Andy Hughes

    Viva the social media revolution 🙂

  • Jesse Kaellis

    I share your sentiments.

  • Don’t forget WhatsAPP. They will be adding voice, like Viberr. So now social media will be more about communication. And a direct competitor with other communication media.

  • There are lots of valid points in this piece Jeff. IMO, none more than this snippet;
    So you will also need to consider Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Slideshare and YouTube. It will also be determined by whether you sell to business (B2B) or to consumers (B2C).

  • Peter Jones

    Love to hear how you think SM is affecting recruiting, and what both employers and applicants need to do as a result.

    Also whether applicants need to act more like small businesses, and become more like suppliers given the fluidity of employment in this day and age.

  • Azzizi

    Good post. thanks jeff

  • Great piece Jeff

    That is very marked – social trouncing traditional media by half a million sales.

    This could indeed be a tipping point now others can see what’s really possible.