Total Loyalty

4 min read
2 December 2013

I've been reading Total Loyalty, How LADY GAGA turns her followers into fans, and what lessons can be drawn from this by Jackie Huba. According to the author, one of the most striking artists of the twenty first century - gives us seven lessons for our Professional Brand. 

First, a little bit of history. Born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta on March 28, 1986, she grew up in New York with her Italian-American parents. She started playing the piano at age 4; wrote her first ballad at 13 and began to act in soirees at 14.

Three years later, she was admitted to the Collaborative Arts Project 21 (NYU) Conservatory. A musical talent ("It is very difficult, not to say almost impossible, to build loyalty on a sleazy talent", writes Jackie Huba).

She left her family (her father, Joe, agreed to pay the rent for one year provided that if she did not succeed in her project, she would resume her studies), contacted a music producer, Rob Fusari (the name comes from "Radio Gaga", a Queen’s song, that in a text message, Rob changed the automatic speller for "Lady Gaga" and she loved it).

She did tandem with performance artist Colleen Martin, alias Lady Starlight, and in 2007 she signed a musical publicity agreement with Sony (she wrote songs for Britney Spears, New Kids on the block, etc).

Fascinated by pop culture, she studied Andy Warhol ("where she learned how stardom can be a personal artistic form"). Commercial art was taken as seriously as traditional art. Her first album, The Fame, is from August 2008 and her first four singles reached # 1. Her Monster Ball Tour took a year and a half (202 shows, 28 countries, 2’4 M viewers).

In five years, 23 M albums sold, 64 M singles, 5 Grammy's, 13 MTV Video Music Awards, Billboard Best Artist of 2010 and Forbes # 1 celebrity in 2011.

Seven lessons for all of us:

  • Focus on your 1%. We have taken Pareto very seriously (20/80) and have gone beyond from the one percent most loyal members of a community. According to the research by Jackie Huba in her book Citizen Marketers(2007), 1% of followers are more loyal; another 10% make comments and evaluations; the remaining 89% limit themselves to read.

    She suggested that, 1% believes in the company and its professionals, buys to give away as gift, praises even if nobody gives something bigger. Gaga’s social network is called and revolves around the super fans. Lady Gaga has 55 million "likes" on Facebook and 500,000 users in Yes, the 1%.
  • Lead with values: Guy Kawasaki has taught us "the five dimensions of a cause": Embody a vision, improve people, produce great effects, catalyze altruistic acts and polarize people. Lady Gaga strictly enforces all of them. She has clear, recognizable values and turns her fans into better people.

Simo Sinek speaks of "the three layers of the Golden Circle": Why - How - What. According to Milward Brown, companies with values that start with the why (the Stengel 50) in ten years are 400% more profitable than the average of the Standard & Poors 500. "As human beings, we all want to be part of something bigger than who and what we are.

When you build an ideal and create a cause, you give people, myself included, the ability to do much more (...). This ideal and this mission are a motivation for everyone: founders, employees, and partners with whom we work, consumers."

  • Build community. There are five key ways to build communities: Connect with people who think like you, Be authentic, Create a collective experience, Celebrate milestones and Foster collaboration.

    For Lady Gaga, these are the gay and lesbian communities or marginalized youth. With her personal website, she shares with them, creates a collective experience (her concerts are "love feasts"), celebrates milestones like the 1,000 million views of her YouTube videos (October 24, 2011) and encourages fans to work together and with the "dear Monster Mother."
  • Give names to the fans. Create a name for your 1% customers; assign them an identity. Hers are called "Little Monsters" (the name comes from the "Fame Monster” album)
  • Take advantage of shared symbols. Lady Gaga has her logo, her "monster claw", a unicorn as a magical being (misfit in the world of stallions), and all she wears becomes a symbol.
  • Make them feel like rock stars. Gaga telephones some of "her monsters"; she gives them the keys to the "Monster Pit"; she does like Bruce Springsteen (as when in the "Dancing in the Dark" video, he made Courtney Cox get up) and displays her gifts. "Making your customers feel like rock stars is something hard to forget."
  • Do things that make people talk. Three examples from Lady Gaga: a dress made of meat, her perfume line and hatching from an egg (she was "incubating"). "What provokes the imagination and creativity of fans is the combination of giving something to talk about and the content of the message."

I like these seven lessons: find your 1%, lead with values, build community, give fans a name, take advantage of shared symbols, make them feel like rock stars, and do something that makes people talk.

I will read the other books of this expert in online marketing, Citizen Marketers and Creating Customer Evangelists, as well as her blog, Church of the Customer.

My thanks to Lady Gaga, to her team (the "Haus of Gaga") and to Jackie Huba for sharing her reflections to retain followers.

Originally posted in spanish in blog 'Hablemos de Talento'

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