You don't have to be a fan of their music - or their positioning - but as far as debut musicians go, few artists have had quite the zero-to-hero ascent as South Africa's newest anarchic hip-hop trio, Die Antwoord. And as far as South African brands go, few marketers have leveraged social media the way Die Antwoord has to entice fans.
Die Antwoord's fan base has grown by thousands every day in the past few months culminating in meetings with various Hollywood influencers such as David Lynch and a record deal with Interscope, record label of Eminem, Black Eyed Peas and U2. All this without releasing a CD.
Die Antwoord's rapid ascent to the hip-hop stratosphere can be compared to Eminem right from their impromptu rhyme busting public appearances and ultimate record deal with international industry leaders. They shot to global fame when their video "Enter the Ninja" became a worldwide hit on the "interweb," as lead rapper/singer Ninja calls the internet.
A leaf out of the book of Gaga Die Antwoord are not the first to leverage social media to support their rise to international superstardom. Last November's premiere of Lady Gaga's video for "Bad Romance" resulted in a Universal Music server crash, a week-long Twitter topic and over 212 million views on YouTube, more than any viral music video to date.
How did she do it? This 23-year-old singer/songwriter leveraged social media. Gaga's authentic assault of modern culture in her social media communications, including Twitter and Facebook, appeals to consumers seeking realism. Her reinvention of "normality" is the kind of authenticity that draws hits on social media platforms.
Similarly, Die Antwoord have ninja chopped tradition. One internet user comments on Die Antwoord's Enter the Ninja video, "I am both terrified and highly pleased by this. It's utterly confusing to my sensibilities, yet I cannot say that I am not entertained by it". Die Antwoord's Facebook page has over 74 000 fans and their 'Enter the Ninja' video has received nearly 4,5 million views.
Not just entertainment If you thought social media marketing is the domain of fashion and entertainment brands, think again. The success of social media communication can be observed in Toyota USA's social media crisis management strategy.
In support of the recall announcement last January, Toyota USA heavily invested in Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other social-media channels. They created a social-media response team of six to eight people monitoring the online conversation and responding at all times. The Digg dialogue alone attracted nearly 1 million views in its first five days after launching.
According to Doug Frisbie, Toyota USA's social media manager, the automaker has actually grown its Facebook fan base more than 10% since January. The automaker was somewhat surprised by the large number of customers who leapt to Toyota's defence in "an authentic way". This was a testament to Toyota USA's ability to quickly pick up one of the most important tools in a crisis-communications handbook: social media.
The social media platforms provide a frontline perspective and an authentic response to consumers. Frisbie said his team's priority is to listen to how customers are responding to the hearings and other news. "That's the primary tenet of good social-media strategy - listen," he said.
Although social media opens a platform for potentially damaging commentary I believe it also provides an arena for users to vent their frustrations, which, most of the time, solves the problem. Die Antwoord do not delete negative critics on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, rather they allow their fans to decide for themselves. And most of the time they rally behind the group.
Keeping it relevant
Die Antwoord's Ninja, Yo-landi Vi$$ser and DJ Hi-Tek introduce a uniquely South African perspective to the social media scene. To quote Ninja, "I represent South African culture... all these different things, all these different people, tucked into one person." And the international audience is fascinated. A YouTube user commented, "So good I wanna learn Afrikaans to better enjoy those crazy lyrics", and their Facebook page is bombarded with international performance requests. It seems the South African culture is infectious, but I am certain this would not have been the case without the help of social media.
"When we did the big meeting with Interscope, Jimmy Iovine [chairman of Interscope] was telling me all about how badly their business has been harmed by the internet. I can understand that but I said, 'Jimmy, I want to give you a piece of samurai advice: Become the enemy,'" Ninja told boingboing.net.
Social media is an entirely new medium in which to communicate your brand, with a unique set of principles and best practices. My advice - if you want to fully leverage social media, setting up an average Facebook page won't cut it. I suggest employing an experienced agency with the ability to conceive, design and service the platform so your brand's page does not become another annoyance on users newsfeeds.
Michael Gullan is the Managing Director and founder of Gullan&Gullan Advertising (Pty) Ltd. He has more than two decades experience at creating value for brands on client accounts from food and beverage, to cosmetics, mail order, medical, publishing and financial services. Gullan&Gullan's propriety brand-centric methodology forms the basis of every communication service Gullan&Gullan offer their clients, ensuring that the brand's core values are expressed in a congruent, consistent manner at every touch point. www.gullanandgullan.com, , 011 887 6591.
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