WARNING: If you don’t believe in social media for lawyers, or believe it is a passing fad, or don’t believe there are lessons for lawyers to be learned from outside the legal profession, or don’t like or are offended by highly provocative music videos with powerful societal messages, or all of the above, then don’t read (or watch) this post.
I had the good fortune to speak at the Florida GP/Solo and Small Firm Annual Conference in March of this year. During the course of the conference, I listened to a presentation from lawyer and former judge, Daniel Perry, on Social Media for Lawyers. His presentation was ‘out there’ for the average lawyer because he showcased lessons to be learned from an unlikely example for lawyers, 24 year old superstar, Lady Gaga, highlighting her music videos with commentary on how lawyers can and should develop fans in their 21st century practices through the effective use of social media. The 72 year old tax attorney didn’t get it. You may not either…at first. But keep an open mind as you read this well-researched post and Dan connects the dots for you. (This post is long but worthy of time. Please read..and watch… when you can fully appreciate.)
Guest Blogger – Daniel Perry
Gaga-Law: Social Media Lessons From Lady Gaga
Most have heard of Lady Gaga’s meteoric rise to pop music megastar. In 2010, Lady Gaga (FKA Stefani Germanotta) became the first musical artist in history with over one billion online video views (i.e., YouTube, Vimeo, Blip.TV, etc.). She has an unprecedented four number one songs from her debut album “Fame Monster.” Gaga was recently named to Time Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. Gaga is known for her avant-garde style of dress and titillatingly bizarre imagery in her music videos. But, it would be a mistake to dismiss this Ivy-league educated and talented songwriter-performance artist as simply provocative for the sake of being provocative. She is, in addition to her obvious musical and performance talents, a shrewd business person and even more skilled social media entrepreneur.
Social Media to Engage Her “Little Monsters”
Social media, utilized effectively, is an authentic and powerful conversation. Lawyers should observe how Gaga uses social media to engage and incite rabid adoration and attention from her fans (she calls them her “little monsters” clearly as a tie-in from her debut album title.). Gaga is active (both personally and through dedicated “monsters”) on vast numbers of social media web sites. In many instances, she personally “tweets” on Twitter.com, a microblogging website of international influence. She posts comments on her Facebook page, posts photographs on TwitPic.com, and her main web site, www.LadyGaga.com. Significantly, she reads many social media websites to see how her monsters respond to her artistry. Gaga indirectly engages her monsters through the efforts of millions of obsessively dedicated monsters who will wait in blizzards at 5 am, stand in line for days to get her autograph, and create thousands of independent websites or social media commentary extolling their love and admiration for Gaga.
Bad Romance and Parodies
In November 2009, Lady Gaga produced another hit music video “Bad Romance.” It was released via her free YouTube channel. The video, in short order, commanded over 196 million online views.
YouTube: Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
over 196 million views
Soon, parodies of her visually stimulating music video virally appeared on hundreds of Internet video sharing websites. In January, 2010, one particular parody of “Bad Romance” caught Gaga’s eye. It was produced by a group of high school students. It has drawn over 1.5 million online views.
Examination of the parody with the original reveal a good-natured but respectful salute to the spirit of Gaga’s original video. More importantly, the students included within the parody similar “inside jokes” (for example, the Internet inspired suggestion that Gaga has a penis) and imagery that only another “little monster” would fully appreciate. In short, there are several counter-culture layers of conversation exchanged between Gaga and the students who parodied her video.
On January 10, 2010, Lady Gaga posted this “tweet” on Twitter.com directing her monsters to go to the YouTube page for the above parody of her Bad Romance Video and added this comment: “holy shit” http://twitter.com/ladygaga/status/7607035255
The reaction among her monsters was predictable. Social media websites, chat rooms, text messaging lit up everywhere as fans realized that Gaga was watching their reactions to her craft. Unlike traditional media, which would have discouraged parodies, Gaga was actually rewarding parodies by directing her millions of fans to go see what other fans were creating with her music and video. The effect was electric. Soon, more fan-created websites and parodies popped up across the Internet. Gaga was listening and responding!
100,000+ Fans Create National Lady Gaga Day
Her fans self-developed National Lady Gaga Day which drew over 100,000 supporters to a event-specific Facebook page and actual physical event. http://mashable.com/2010/01/29/national-lady-gaga-day/. “… The day [was] described as an opportunity to ‘dress like her, sing, dance, have themed parties, wear a Kermit the frog jacket’ and ‘celebrate our ‘inner freak’ that Gaga allows (and wants ) us to be.’”
On January 29, 2010, Lady Gaga posted this tweet: “Thank u for creating #nationalladygagaday little monsters! I love u with all my gaga heart.” http://twitter.com/ladygaga/status/8374294079
Telephone and Parodies
In March 2010, Lady Gaga co-produced with Beyonce a hit music video, “Telephone.” It was released to YouTube via her YouTube channel. The video resulted in over 60 million online views.
YouTube: Lady Gaga – Telephone (Official Clean Version)
Soon, still more parodies of “Telephone” virally appeared on hundreds of Internet video sharing websites. They have collectively drawn hundreds of millions online views.
Happy Birthday, Gaga!
On March 26, 2010, dedicated YouTube fan-monster, Ryan Yezak, released a YouTube compilation of 126 other little monsters who themselves posted video birthday wishes to Gaga.
YouTube: Happy Birthday Lady Gaga Biggest Fan Made Birthday Video Ever (126 “Little Monsters” post videos wishing Gaga Happy Birthday and expressing deeply personal thanks for “doing so much for them.”)
In their postings, the monsters were encouraged to post their thoughts about Gaga. It is interesting to see the depth of their video-audio only relationship with Gaga and her stand on issues. Below are a few excerpts:
- “Thank you for being proud to be yourself and being proud to try new things because you’re standing up for the rest of us who aren’t afraid to do that either – and that means so much to me. I am proud to be called your ‘little monster.’”
- “Last year I watched one of your speeches on Gay Rights and the day after I came out to my parents and friends and I thank you for that because you really inspired me to be who I am.”
- “You make me feel so comfortable with myself. You made me feel like I can be me. I shouldn’t be what they want me to be. I should be myself. I love you.”
In response two days later Gaga posted this tweet: http://bit.ly/9fZ67S i’ve never cried so hard in 24 years, from pure joy and unconditional love. Tears still streaming” http://twitter.com/ladygaga/status/11219495097
Gaga “Gets” Her Little Monsters
The real strength to Gaga’s use of social media lies in her deep appreciation for the problems of her fans.
Like her fans, she struggles with issues related to body image, sexual identity, and societal expectations. She seems to define herself by doing the opposite of what a typical pop star would do. For example, in the Telephone music video, the lyrics would be presented in a music video by a typical pop star as set against a backdrop of a dance hall light show. Instead, Gaga sets the music video against a backdrop of prison violence, bondage, lesbian sex, and glorifying the mass murder of persons who would dictate how she and others would act.
Gaga is consistent in her message…
.. of the importance of strong personal identity in the face of societal expectations. She wants her fans to stand up for themselves in all aspects of their lives.
Gaga’s fans “get” that she is authentic…
.. about her stand on these and other issues (such as Gay Rights, etc.). That authenticity drives their relationship with Gaga to a deeper level. Some of her fans remark to interviewers that Gaga gives them a voice – that she speaks to them. “She gets me…,” they remark. Gaga successfully uses social media to engage her fans at this basic level. She exchanges comments, tweets, photos, and videos which reinforce her devotion to the needs and fears of her fans. In the process, she demonstrates that she is not afraid to show them she has the same needs and fears. Her fans, then, are energized by her honest responsiveness. She listens to them and they reward her effort by speaking more directly to her.
For Gaga, celebrity is a responsibility. Her ability to influence the world to the better is THE point of celebrity. Significantly, Gaga’s fans believe that Gaga truly believes in the causes she selects to support. The Gay community was an early avid and supportive audience of Gaga. She has embraced their issues as her own and her gay audience trusts her accordingly.
Gaga’s fans believe in her because she is authentic. She is almost laser-focused on her artistry and its impact on her fans and the world.
Lawyers CAN Create Fans
How, then, do lawyers create fans? It is not enough to be authentic. A lawyer must have something compelling to say and direct it in a medium which reaches an audience predisposed to listen. But Gaga’s approach can illustrate some basic building blocks which lawyers can use to build a fanbase:
1) Have something compelling to say. Don’t simply use a sales pitch (i.e., “If you need a lawyer to prepare your will, please call me at 800-GET-WILL.”). Participants in social media bristle at a direct sales pitch. Rather, offer some information or resource which helps solve a problem or answers an important question. Repeated generous offers of assistance or information will itself reward your efforts. Social media participants will come to see your participation or message compelling. They will “get” that you are listening to their needs.
2) Be consistent, both in the content and delivery of your message. If your message is in estate planning, for example, don’t post commentary on other areas of the law unless you can relate them to the theme of your estate planning message. And, if you want people to eagerly anticipate your participation, you need to have a publishing or content schedule which you can stick to and advise your fans. It is easier to “get” someone who is consistent in their message and dependably distributes content on a known schedule.
3) Find your medium. Some persons enjoy writing. Others enjoy posting audio or video to their website. Gary Vaynerchuk, of Wine Library TV http://tv.winelibrary.com/, decided early in his Internet career that he would rather post daily videos to his website. He has amassed an audience in excess of 90,000 viewers who follow his daily video discussions regarding wine. As an audio/video performance artist, Gaga successfully uses her YouTube video channel to drive fans to her main website and then on to Twitter, Facebook and the like.
4) Use social media broadly to drive interested persons to the main website or medium you regularly update. Twitter and Facebook have their value in providing a forum for you to listen to your fans as they discuss their needs and fears. But you can successfully use those forums to remind your interested fans where they can get deeper, more authoritative information from you.
5) Always give your devoted fans an opportunity to deepen their involvement and relationship with you. For example, Gary Vaynerchuk has a whiteboard in the background of his videos upon which he writes a coded message or special offering to his especially devoted fans. Gaga has special signals (i.e., clenched fist pumps and claw-like movements, hand gestures, and symbology) in her music videos and live appearances which only other little monsters would connect and appreciate. Lawyers don’t need to be that theatrical. A lawyer could simply arrange for an in-person MeetUp http://www.meetup.com/ or an audio/video teleseminar, webinar, or Internet broadcast http://www.ustream.tv/ for “special” fans.
6) Make it a habit to listen, even if it’s just 15 minutes per day, to your interested audience. You can easily do this by:
• Following persons and groups on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Many of these services can be easily automated to push updates to you via email. It can be helpful to join some of those groups.
• Setting up Google Alerts http://www.google.com/alerts to pull information to you according to criteria you specify.
• Listening to audio and video podcasts in your area of interest. Simply Google the area of interest with the word “podcast” and you will find hundreds of audio and video recordings of discussions relevant to your interest. Many great videos are available on YouTube.com http://www.youtube.com/. You can subscribe to video channels as well. Many serious Internet marketers consider YouTube to be a more significant search engine than Google.com.
7) If you listen to interested fans, it will be easier for you to create content (text, audio, video, etc.) in response to their needs. As you create that content, don’t forget to go onto your social media sites and tell people that you have created content related to their interests.
8) Don’t be a afraid to make the world a better place. Use your influence as a legal professional responsibly and for causes you believe in. Stay true to your message, helping your clients and changing the world.
Thanks for reading this. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
Follow me on Twitter and DM or contact me if you’d like to discuss further.
Lady Gaga Resources
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ladygaga 7 million friends
Twitter: http://twitter.com/ladygaga 4 million + followers (she is following 150,000 Tweetstreams)
TwitPic (photos): http://twitpic.com/photos/ladygaga