By DeStorm, 27-Apr-2012 22:59:00
(Monday, January 30, 2012) - “People used to show up in LA with a suitcase full of dreams,” says Steve Raymond of Big Frame, the media company and management specialists for online stars. “You remember that cliche of the budding star on the sidewalk with the suitcase? Now they show up to meetings with hundreds of thousands of followers.”
And on that point turns a whole industry. Today it is not just the likes of Ashton Kutcher or Lady Gaga who can generate millions of loyal fans. Nor who attract the big brands seeking to ally themselves with success. Social brands are bigging up. And this time round there is no gatekeeper to say who goes big and who does not.
This is more about highly empowered talent, about individuals who went and did it – created the dream for themselves by using the tools of social business. Take a look.
One of Big Frame’s best known social brands is Mystery Guitar Man, Joe Penna, with over 2 million subscribers on his YouTube channel and over 300 million views of his work (see the video below).
Not bad for someone who has not hit the mainstream big time – which actually begs the question where is the big time headed – and a follow up, what are familiar brands doing about it?
Mystery Guitar Man is a big time act and hugely talented but also perhaps ideally suited to the self-made medium. His work is small scale and personal, it feels like it came from the back bedroom, though a very well equipped one.
He creates frequently (one video a week), and utilises the full range of personal technologies. It exudes ingeniuity but at a level an audience can identify with and say: well he’s smarter than me right now, but I guess I could do that, eventually.
On top of those 300 million + views of his videos he is, like every social star, active on Facebook and Twitter 7 days a week. His Twitter following is 200,000+ and the Facebook likes are 300,000+ but YouTube is his home. He has a second channel with over 24 million views. This is a hot property but it is still domestic.
From the same Big Frame stable DeStorm Power turned down a reality TV opportunity two years back? Why.
“We took a long time considering it,” says Sarah Penna, Big Frame founder, “and the contract excluded him from uploading material to YouTube so we decided the potential reward of reality TV was less that then potential of building his audience.”
The social star has to work closely with an audience, through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, maintaining contact and living authenticity. That’s proving an interesting problem now that major brands want to work with social.
“The growth of the audience is very organic,” says Sarah. “They understand their own audience. We’re going to see people increasingly able to use this audience they’ve spent years developing.”
Sony, MacDonalds, Fox, Garnier, Microsoft and Virgin Mobile are already in there trying to ally with these stars. And Big Frame report that one element of the negotiation is how the social brand can work with conventional brand.
Here’s a look at a Mystery Guitar Man and an iPad app video – nearly 50,000 like and 2 million + views..
The talent has to hold strong on their values or risk alienating an audience that took years to build, says Sarah. The accusation of sell-out could easily arise. So the tendency is to have conventional brands support better content production – better settings, camera work, editing, whatever. The conventional brand has to add value to the product.
It’s early days for how that relationship might evolve. But what will be interesting is how the total absence of a gatekeeper plays out in the deals that geet done.
Nobody gives the social brand access to an audience. They built it. So the relationship with conventional brands will be on their terms, more or less. It will be infused with different values from those you see in conventional celebrity marketing deals.
How will big brands adapt to the needs of social? We’ll see.
For anyone out there with a laptop, camera and talent who wants to make it in social, Big Frame are launching a channel to help – coming soon Bammo
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