4 social media lessons from Beyoncé

Beyoncé has proven she’s a master of social media PR. Her follower numbers are staggering. Her longevity at the top of social media gets a close examination here.

Managing a brand’s social media and public perception is not easy.

Social media pros are well aware that there is a vast, unknown, uncontrolled world at our fingertips that never stops producing content.

Luckily, we’re blessed with Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter to guide us through the social media abyss. Beyoncé has sold more than 100 million discs as a solo artist, won 20 Grammys and done scores of sold-out tours. She has hundreds of millions of followers on social media. Beyoncé knows how to build her brand and empire:

1. Relevance pays off, big time.

We’re tempted to take advantage of trending topics and hashtags that tie to our brand. While social media managers wait anxiously for the trending topic list on Twitter to refresh, let’s remember one tip: Think before you post and use social listening.

Lululemon did not. After Beyoncé announced her new athletic-wear line, Ivy Park, Lululemon responded to a tweet asking about similarities between both brands by tweeting, “They do say imitation is the best form of flattery. Maybe Beyoncé is so Crazy In Love with our brand, she made her own.”

You do not poke the BeyHive, Beyoncé’s legion of fans. Lululemon recognized its big mistake immediately.

Queen Bey has a knack for relevance combined with social listening. She released her pro-feminism, pro-black song and video Formation in February, 2016, and immediately followed it with the donation to the Black Lives Matter Movement made by her husband’s company, Tidal. A day later, her tour announcement followed her Super Bowl halftime performance.

When police brutality, race relations and feminism flooded social and mainstream media, Beyoncé addressed on her world-wide platform topics important to her fans. Then she hit the nail on the head with Formation, followed by her 13-track visual album Lemonade in April, 2016.

How do you find a balance comparable to Beyoncé’s juggling her lives as an entertainer, wife and the mother of Blue Ivy? It’s simple: Research your audience and figure out what is relevant to them.

Research is the cornerstone of all good content. If you don’t produce relevant content for your audience, what’s the point? Take time to research and listen to your current and potential followers to develop content they’re interested in. What you produce may not be about a top ten trend, but if it’s content customers are interested in, you’re headed to the top, just like #Lemonade.

via GIPHY

2. Valuable content over quantity

Social media never stops moving. Do you post quickly produced content to keep up or take your time making high-quality content?

Again, Bey has our back. The BeyHive waited for almost three years between the fifth album Beyoncé in late-2013 and Lemonade, released mid-2016. Despite the time between albums, both did well, earning critical acclaim. Although spacing out content by years is ineffective for most social media strategies, the point is to create something strong rather than something that fades into the background quicker than it was produced.

Quality over quantity doesn’t just extend to Beyoncé’s music. Her Instagram site proves well-curated content creates interest and leaves us wanting more. Beyoncé updates her site only a few times a month, and she quickly rose to the fifth-most followed person on Instagram.

A photo posted by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on Feb 7, 2016 at 7:14pm PST

#LEMONADE The Visual Album. Available now on BEYONCE.TIDAL.COM

A photo posted by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on Apr 23, 2016 at 6:53pm PDT

We need a posting strategy inspired by queen Beyoncé, tweaked to fit our brand personality and audience. Make your content quality by:

  • Timing posts to coincide with events or news , like Beyoncé did with her tour announcement following her Super Bowl performance or her April 9th tweet announcing her new album, Lemonade. This tweet followed her hour-long HBO special that introduced the visuals for her new album.

  • Make it interesting, the same ol’ posts get boring, quickly. Change it up.

  • Make it well-produced . We’re not just social media marketers, we’re word wizards.

  • Don’t post just to post . This tactic is self-explanatory.

3. Stay true to your brand

Branding doesn’t affect just social media marketing, but all marketing, advertising and public relations. Before creating any post, billboard or press release, ask: Does this content align with the brand?

Beyoncé has always branded herself as pioneer on social change. Lemonade solidified her stance on the empowerment of women and on systematic racism. The lead single from the album, Formation, celebrated her race by proclaiming, “I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros. I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils.”

The day after the single and video were released; she performed alongside Coldplay and Bruno Mars at Super Bowl 50. Her female black dancers dressed as Black Panthers and she wore an outfit reminiscent of one worn by Michael Jackson. The world lost it—some in celebration and some in anger.

via GIPHY

When you have a brand like Beyoncé, stay true to it, regardless of pressures to morph into something you’re not or the backlash you may face. Don’t sell out for the retweets, link clicks or sales. Find your brand’s style, tone and purpose and create content out of who you are, not what people want you to be. Develop a brand persona that attracts people who feel similarly and makes them trust the brand. Who would trust someone who flip-flops their messages?

4. Slay

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Social media is a marketing tool that requires strategy, social listening, research and quality content—no matter what new technique is invented.

Dream it, work hard and grind until you own it. Don’t become discouraged when an influencer falls through or a post doesn’t get the engagement numbers you hoped for. Social strategy doesn’t flourish in one day. Not even Beyoncé’s empire did. It’s about trial and error, finding your niche and engaging with your followers. Good content and persistence, patience and positivity have the ability to turn any strategy into a masterpiece of longevity like Queen Bey’s career.

Be relevant, produce valuable content, stay true to your brand and, of course, slay.

Okay, marketers. Get your content in formation.

Charmaine Riley is a Social Strategist at Oblong Pixel, a Seattle-based digital marketing agency. Connect with her on Twitter. A version of this article originally appeared on the agency’s blog.

(Image via)

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