I’ve developed a reputation as somewhat of an irrational Beyoncé fan here at Digit. Perhaps because I have a knack for connecting my work as a Strategist to the bronzer-and-stiletto halo (pun intended) that surrounds the Beyoncé brand. For instance, I recently argued that the parameters of what we’ve come to know as ‘All-American’ now include the likes of Knowles herself. A departure from the white, middle class norm of old, but not entirely inclusive (more on that after a pint). To add hairspray to the way I might come across, I’d add that there are definite learnings Gen Y feminists and self-esteem slashing brands alike can glean from how women in particular consume and interpret Beyoncé. Take this: when asked for his thoughts on the Beyoncé Effect, my fellow Strategist, Tom Barnes answered, ‘yeah, girls love her. If she walked into the room I’d be intimidated.’ Always on the money, Tom alerted me to something I hadn’t thought about enough: there is real ideological and consumer power in my fandom (*insert Pinterest). Of course, the sentiment is not universal among women, but one thing is for sure — something Beyoncé-related is blogged, tweeted, ‘liked’ and disliked online, from a mobile, tablet or computer, somewhere in the world every minute of the day.
Beyoncé’s new tumblr, created by Designed Memory, has cemented her place as the PR envy of many celebrities. Regarded as fiercely private and secretly shy (this is integral to how she performs her identity), the star’s global website was recently relaunched, along with this genius piece of work — seemingly antithetical portrayals of a private person’s life. When it comes to her image, Beyoncé appears to have full control. Pregnant? Announce it on your own terms while millions of people are watching in real time. Just gave birth? Upload a few pictures of your baby days after she’s born, asking your fans to respect your privacy. Not a peep more from a gossip magazine or a renegade tweeter was thereafter echoed. And as Gawker recently pointed out, not a squeal or finger wag of disapproval at the fact that what we see via tumBleyoncé (see what I did there?) is, mostly, an extended stream of a star’s jaw dropping wealth.
What Beyoncé and her team teach us — and what they can teach brands — is that acting tactfully upfront protects you from external distortions of your narrative. ‘Privacy’ has to be very well managed, and social media can enable that. It is not an inherent threat. Tumblr was the perfect platform for Beyoncé: fans can view content, reblog it, export it to other networks, and comment until glitter and YSL bodysuits pour from the sky. They can own the content, and each image is continuously reproduced and reused. Why go anywhere else to see intimate pictures of Beyoncé when the most reliable and engaging source is the singer herself? Sounds simple, but it’s not common. Arguably, only a star of that stature can create Beyoncé Digital. But that’s a question of scale rather than strategic tact, something this brand seems to have in leaps and bounds.
The internet is aglow with praise and analysis. For how long? Who knows. But right now, Beyoncé Knowles, who has tweeted only once, is the queen of social media.
*PS: all pictures = courtesy of Beyoncé. For more on tumblrs that matter see, well, Solange.