Love her or hate her, Lady Gaga is swiftly becoming one of the most powerful entertainment and media icons of the 21st century. The young lady, who has a penchant for weirdness, has dethroned Oprah Winfrey as Forbes’ most powerful celebrity. This is hot on the news that she is the first person to reach 10 million followers on Twitter. She has over 32 million Facebook fans and her single “Born This Way” was downloaded one million times in just five days; and her videos have been viewed more than one billion times on YouTube.
What is the secret to her success?
Well, there’s no denying her novelty value. She’s almost like a car accident, you know it’s going to be messy but you can’t help watch.
But let’s be a little more analytical about it from a social media perspective.
Her strong social media presence is undoubtedly how she managed to steal Oprah’s crown. Not even social media’s previous golden boy, Charlie Sheen, can compete with Lady Gaga’s influence.
The reason: she’s more real … relatively speaking. Charlie Sheen was riding a wave of insanity. His wildly swinging instability was his attraction. But, by and large, people like consistency, and even though you never know what to expect from Lady Gaga she’s consistent in the manner of her communication. She doesn’t just talk about tiger blood; she adds value to her followers’ days.
She also knows how to make social media work for her.
Ashton Kutcher is another celeb who seems to know instinctively how social media works, but Lady Gaga has taken things to a whole new level. Kutcher is a Twitter king, but Gaga expands her empire to Facebook. She’s active on both networks, very active and her fans like that. There’s interaction, and her fans like that. There’s the impression that she really cares, and of course her fans like that.
Then there are her good works. In the race to reach one million Twitter followers (doesn’t that sound so cute?) When Kutcher hit one million followers he donated 10 000 mosquito nets to Malaria No More. But in the realm of social media charitable works the mighty Lady once again stepped things up. She’s been involved in at least two Facebook-driven philanthropic causes. According to Mashable, both drives were related to the Robin Hood Foundation, which aims to fight poverty in New York.
In the first instance, the foundation hosted its annual fundraising gala on 9 May, where Lady Gaga performed. It held a lottery on Facebook, where everyone who liked or invited others to join the cause stood a chance to win tickets to see the concert.
In the second instance, Lady Gaga used crowdsourcing on Facebook to help her decide how to divvy up $1 million between five charities. The five charities were determined by Robin Hood, after an in-depth vetting process.
According to the foundation, Lady Gaga approached them with her ideas, rather than the other way round, which is perhaps not entirely unexpected from someone who donated proceeds from one of her concerts to the work being done in Haiti and has been raising money for Japan.
But that’s not all
Of course it’s not all. Part of knowing how to make social media work for you is knowing when and how to explore new channels.
Most of us are familiar with FarmVille, if not personally at least via Facebook updates from our friends. It’s a hugely popular game, even though you’d be hard pressed to find someone who admits to liking it now that it’s become so uncool to spam your friends with your progress. Piggy backing on its success is GagaVille, a world that reflects Lady Gaga’s world, I guess. There are, apparently, unicorns and crystals and a whole lot of love and acceptance (watch the Gagaville promo).
It’s a temporary thing and only runs until 26 May, according to the video. Which goes to show that the lady knows not to overstay her welcome. She’s going to be using it to release new songs from her new album; to test them, as it were. And, it’s tied into her Facebook page.
A lot of people speculate about Lady Gaga’s stickability. She’s been called the new Madonna, but critics have questioned her potential longevity – after all, it’ll take some doing to beat roughly four decades at the top of the music industry.
But she has one thing Madonna doesn’t, social media savvy, and that could make all the difference.