Social Media’s Role in Creating a Legend

Welcome to #BeMyGuest, a month of mutual blogging.

I’ve teamed up with Social and Digital Media Consultant Paul Sutton to swap blog posts.  An astute guy, he picked up immediately on my love of social media and Lady Gaga to produce this knock-out post on Social Media’s Role in Creating a Legend :-

Stefani Germanotta’s “real skill lies in the creation of brand Gaga”. So said Lucy Thorpe of Lady Gaga on this very blog recently, and never has a truer word been written.

A year ago, very few people other than ardent clubbers had heard of Lady Gaga. When her debut single, Just Dance, hit the number one spot in both the UK and the USA in January 2009 however, planet Gaga would never be the same again.

Just over 12 months later and the Gaga brand is ubiquitous – the music is everywhere, there are huge sponsorship deals, and there are Gaga product lines for, Universal’s Beats By Dre headphones, Viva Glam cosmetics and even Polaroid.

So how did Ms Germanotta manage to make such a huge cultural impact on the world in such a short space of time?

Planet Gaga is, after all, a bizarre and perhaps inaccessible world to say the least. And yet she has sold over 20 million singles and over 8 million albums, she has over 5.5 million Facebook fans and just short of 3 million followers on Twitter. And it’s in these statistics that the secret of her impact lies.

Social media is the single biggest reason that Lady Gaga has become so big, so quickly. Arguably even more so than talent or image. The way that Gaga has leveraged social media is the envy of thousands of marketers worldwide, tapping into legions of ‘misfits’ who relate to her as ‘an outsider’.

She has used the digital world to find and communicate with her tribe, utilising video on YouTube, her own website and other music/video sites to massive effect, and using a very personal approach on her Facebook and Twitter pages that gives a true sense of Germanotta the person, not Gaga the image.

In November, she premiered the video for Bad Romance on her own website prior to even MTV getting hold of it. It was viewed so many times that the servers crashed.

On Twitter, the news pushed her into the top ten trending topics for a week, and her use of Twitter, though far from heavy and certainly not an approach that engages fans directly, provides very personal updates on her inspirations and activities and provides and insight into planet Gaga. Which, it would seem, is a very weird and compelling place.

Many have compared the rapid rise of Lady Gaga with that of Madonna in the early 1980s. But the truth, as Forbes magazine recently stated, is that she “isn’t the music industry’s new Madonna. She’s its new business model.”

Lady Gaga’s meteoric rise puts that of Madonna firmly in the shade. You can argue all day long as to whether her social media prominence is a by-product of her commercial success, or whether her commercial success is a by-product of her social media prominence. But either way, Gaga has embraced social media like few other marketers have before but many will undoubtedly attempt to do in future.

Paul Sutton is a Social & Digital Media Consultant with over 14 years’ experience in PR and marketing communications. Fascinated by the psychological and cultural impact of digital media and the web, he has a passion for online communications, social media, inbound marketing and the ongoing convergence between PR and the web.

For more on Paul, visit his blog at or contact him on Twitter at


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