For every Tweet she’s tweeted, Beyonce has 1,712,500 followers. Pretty good going and yet, last week, her social media manager said that she didn’t think Beyonce was going to start tweeting more: ‘An artist needs to be comfortable with the information that is being given to the world.’ As prosaic as it sounds – but yet it still made the news because it’s a story about Queen Bey – the singer isn’t going to start tweeting more because, basically, she doesn’t like Twitter that much.
Beyoncé could give anyone (even Rihanna) a masterclass in the art of the personal brand. She exercises maximum control on everything that goes out, as her digital manager confirmed: ‘She is aware of and approves every piece of content that goes everywhere all the time.’ This means every photo or message is authentically her. Fans want access to the singer, not her PR team, and they’re not stupid; they can tell the difference.
Authenticity is the most important quality a personal brand must have. Of course it’s a word bandied about so often, it ends up feeling as empty as Kimye’s library. It is, however, quite simple to achieve: live the values you espouse. Beyoncé’s social media channels let her embody the values championed by her Beygood campaign. On Facebook, she has 66 million followers and on Instagram, she has over 20 million. Their pages are filled with photos of her looking beautiful, her looking maternal, and her looking important. No need to tell, just show. And if they are moving to Paris like the tabloids say, there’ll be no problem with the language barrier either.
Taylor Swift on the other hand uses Twitter far more – she’s a songstress and obviously more comfortable expressing herself verbally. Even though she uses her social media channels to goof out, she knows the whole point of social is to sell albums. When creating your brand you have to stay focused on the task in hand. Swift has recently been posting teaser Tweets of lyrics from her upcoming album. Good on her; she’s going to have to shift a few to justify her recent decision to quit Spotify.
The third most important ingredient for a personal brand is responding to feedback. Atlantic Records set up a Twitter account to let the sappy musician James Blunt engage with fans. But he decided to engage with his haters. All negative feedback on Twitter was rewarded with a personal witty and quick-fire retort. Check out some of the funniest things he said here. Russell Brand also managed to turn around the #parklife backlash he faced after his magnum opus Revolution was ridiculed using Twitter and Youtube. If you don’t like Russell Brand, you’ll find anything he does, including this, grating. But at least he had the gumption to answer his critics. Of course, in a business context, it becomes a little more difficult but do try to treat anyone who complains on social with personal attention.
Transparency is perhaps the most important pillar a brand has to keep to. If you are responsible for delivering bad messages, you should provide reasons and justifications for your actions – without being defensive.To limit damage, it’s always important to act decisively, resolutely and quickly. It’s torturous to find a celebrity parallel here as most celebrities – see Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, Rihanna – simply log off social media when the going gets tough. In fact the only principle of transparency they seem to adhere to when it comes to social media, is sartorial.