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4 Key Lessons This Year’s Grammy Award Nominees Can Teach Marketers About Social Media

Grammy Award Nominees Teaching Marketers About Social Media

Written By: Rashida Boyd, Senior Marketer at Unified


For 58 years we’ve looked forward to February, where music’s most radiant stars will grace our television screens with their best (or worst) outfits, performances and if we’re just a little bit lucky, some newsworthy antics. For the artists, everything that they did in the previous year from new releases to touring, culminates into a collective hope for Grammy gold. However at Unified, we wanted to uncover a slightly different story—what these artists did on social media. The fact of the matter is that musicians are extremely successful on social, with the top 3 most followed Twitter accounts being owned by music stars, even beating out Barack Obama for top honors. We looked at the Twitter accounts of artists nominated for Record Of The Year, Song of The Year and Album Of The Year to identify some key lessons that marketers can leverage in their own social media strategies.

Lesson 1: Timing (And Influence) Is everything

For this lesson, we go to Country pop singer and third most followed account owner on Twitter, Taylor Swift. Back in February 2015 when her single “Blank Space” and deluxe album version of 1989 were released, Swift did something borderline brilliant. She modified her lyrics in a way that was timely, relevant and encouraged a brand new stream of engagement. A mere five days after “Blank Space” was released on the radio, the songstress sent the following tweet:

The Social Situation:
First, she aligned her song which talks about the complexities and potential downfall of love to Valentine’s Day—the one day of the year which many of her fans can relate to the song most intensely. Second, she modified her lyrics in a way that changed “long list of ex-lovers” to “lonely starbucks lovers”, and made a clever play that compares lyrics on “I’ll write your name” and baristas writing names on Starbucks cups.

The Result:
As a result, although the international coffee chain wasn’t even tagged in the post, both their @Starbucks and @StarbucksUK accounts responded, tagging Swift which in turn vastly extended the conversation and social engagement. All just in time for her deluxe album release 3 days later.

The Lesson For Brands
This lesson is twofold. First, Swift was able to extend the conversation across both of her releases by tailoring her message to what was relevant at the moment. Brands can do the same thing when it comes to current events around product releases or promotions. Second, Swift albeit not her chief motive, was able to incorporate an influencer in a way that inspired them to extend the conversation. Marketers need to lean on sophisticated audience analytics in order to pinpoint who their influencers are, and how they can leverage them to create strategic conversations.

Lesson 2: Be Approachable, And Often

In comparing social activity, generally speaking, the accounts that have bigger audiences will also dominate engagement market share simply because there are more people to see and interact with their posts. However when looking at Ed Sheeran’s Twitter activity, we found something interesting. Although he has only 23.7% the audience size of Taylor Swift, or more specifically, approximately 52.6MM less followers, he still commanded an impressive engagement market share between the two artists on Twitter.

The Social Situation:
So what in the world is Ed Sheeran doing to successfully compete with Taylor Swift? Well the answer is in his volume and approachability. Sheeran posted 4.2 times as much as Swift, ensuring that fans stayed connected and engaged. Additionally, the crooner was able to remain extremely approachable, sending tweets that show love for his fans or display his excitement over his birthday.

The Result:
As a result, Sheeran was able to achieve a 41.1% engagement market share with compared to Taylor Swift, while establishing an audience that was three times as active with 1,480.1 favorites and retweets per 1,000 followers.

The Lesson For Brands:
Marketers can gain momentum against competitors with much larger audiences by posting regularly and often. Furthermore, content that positions brands as relatable, amicable and human is also key. Stay away from “the hard sell” and find more organic ways to connect with social audiences.

Lesson 3: Cross-Promotion Pays off

Mark Ronson had music fans dancing to his hit “Uptown Funk” long before his album release on January 13, but the British artist did something simple to not only keep heads nodding and fingers snapping—he combined cross-promotion, his album and accolades.

The Social Situation:
Just 48 hours after his album Uptown Special was released, Ronson tweeted his excitement over being nominated for two Brit Awards, tagging both the “Uptown Funk” feat Bruno Mars’ and the Brit Awards’ accounts.

The Result:
Not only did this tweet receive 34.3 times the amount of engagement as his others on average, but two days later the single went on to dominate the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 14 weeks, easily beating out Taylor Swift, Maroon 5 and other leading artists.

The Lesson For Brands:
This is a reminder that aligning partners, achievements and live events is a powerful mix. Marketers can use this combination to boost engagement, shift or strengthen brand perception and most importantly, impact sales.

Lesson 4: Imitation Isn't Just Flattering, It Pays off

Hip hop powerhouse Kendrick Lamar, who’s title To Pimp A Butterfly is nominated for album of the year, is not a highly active artist on Twitter. However he managed to leverage a fellow artist’s interpretation of one of his own tracks at the during the busiest shopping day of the entire year.

The Social Situation:
On Black Friday, Lamar tweeted a SoundCloud track of J Cole’s track “Black Friday” which sampled the song “Alright” featured on his latest album, tagging Cole in the process.

The Result:
Similar to what we saw with Mark Ronson, this tweet was by far Lamar’s most successful in terms of number of engagements, producing eight times the average number of favorites and retweets the artist received. But the most interesting part to this story is that the very next day Lamar’s album was back in the iTunes U.S. Top 100 albums list.

The Lesson For Brands:
Marketers who work for brands that tend to have a good amount of fan art, expression or influence can use it to their advantage. Building campaigns that tap into the superfan or consumer can not only perpetuate already positive sentiment about the brand, but also affect awareness and perhaps even sales in favorable ways.

The bottom line? Marketers need to remember to keep it simple, cross-promote, be relatable, pay attention to timing and intimately know their influencers and relative affinities.

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