Littlemonsters.com, the social network devoted to all things Lady Gaga opened to the public today (it had been in private beta since the beginning of the year). A lot of the press as well as Backplane (the company responsible for the site) are discussing how the success of her social site may lead to other brands being able to spin off their audience to a dedicated network. I have a very hard time making that leap and here’s why:
Lady Gaga is the perfect storm for a stand-alone social network.
- She’s also got 52.6 million Likes on Facebook, 26.8 million followers on Twitter, and 2.8 million followers on Google Plus. And her audience trends exceptionally strong in 18-24 year old demographic.
- She advocates causes that speak to identity, so much so that becoming a Lady Gaga follower (“monster”) has become an identity unto itself. Among her causes: anti-bullying, gay rights, homelessness (particularly focused on youth), AIDS awareness and others. Her advocacy enables people to discuss themselves within the context of Lady Gaga, and that’s a key differentiator from a network organized around one homogeneous topic (or brand).
- She has created an over-the-top character that makes her exceptionally unique and endearing to her fans.
Lady Gaga has a huge audience of youthful, socially-savvy and devoted fans who are drawn to her unique persona in an oftentimes very personal way. There isn’t a brand on the earth that can come anywhere close to replicating that. The most popular brands according to Bloomberg in 2011 were Bud Light, Coca-Cola, Gatorade, the Nissan Leaf, M&Ms, XBox, Oreos. Are there any of these brands that you can imagine compelling you to log-in and talk about them everyday for a couple of minutes? Not one. When people write about Lady Gaga’s social network as a competitor to Facebook, it appears they aren’t considering how much effort it takes for a user to participate and keep up on any network they belong to. Users have to be advocates, and there has to be something useful for them to consume everytime they’re on the network. Lady Gaga can make a value proposition to her fans that no other brand can offer.
The success of Lady Gaga’s social network should probably be interpreted as affirming her brilliant marketing and resonance with her fans. It will likely be interpreted as an opportunity for brands to develop stand-alone social networks. If this happens many brands will learn the painful and expensive lesson that their fans don’t love them as much as Lady Gaga’s fans love her.