Whoops? Was that dishonest?
Anyone heard of Marie Digby? You know, the underdog singer who was discovered on youtube? If you have, you're not the only one. Trouble is, she's not that much of an underdog and "we" didn't really discover her, she was promoted. Who cares right?
Well, I think people care. Check out this article in WSJ uncovering the misleading tactics of Ms. Digby and her record label Hollywood Records. Ms. Digby is a new, up and coming artist. She recorded some simple videos, just her and her acoustic guitar, on youtube and became a big hit.
Suddenly, she was interviewing at a Los Angeles radio station, her song "umbrella" is available on itunes and she appears on the Carson Daly show. All parties were singing the same tune...that a 19 year old girl who liked to sing and could play the guitar was discovered on youtube and is now a big success.
She made many fans, and I'm thinking many of those fans probably felt like they knew her because they had a hand in discovering her. Here's the problem. Hollywood records signed her 18 months earlier, and this was a brilliant and elaborate plan to promote the young artist. Carson Daly booked her appearance through the record label as did the LA radio stations. The song on itunes was a professionally recorded studio version. And her youtube videos were recorded on the computer Hollywood records supplied to Marie with some instructions.
Aptly put by Ben McConnell at churchoftheconsumer, "Young singer-songwriter Marie Digby is, after all, a real person but launching a promising career (or product, or company) with such careless consideration for authenticity demonstrates remarkably poor judgment about the nature of word of mouth."
In the end, will she fail? Perhaps not. But I do think many people will feel duped, and that's the worst feeling ever. A couple of lessons that marketers need to learn as they use social media to promote brands.
1) Transparency and honesty are the cornerstones of befriending consumers. If you expect people to spread the word about your brand via social media, you have to be honest with them. Remember, they're acting as your advocates.
2) Don't mess with the great American archetype of rooting for the underdog. Even though we are a world power, this nation was built on being an underdog. We root for underdogs. Love stories about underdogs and fancy ourselves as such. Ms. Digby positioned herself as an underdog with enthusiasm. And while she may be in some respects, she is playing with a powerful sentiment in America....remember lonelygirl15?
3) Social media offers the power of discovery. For people to feel like they have ownership in something. That's a powerful thing. But it has to be done on an honest platform or people will feel betrayed.
4) You don't own social media. It's not a place to manipulate people. And unlike a television commercial where you can slickly position something and influence people's perceptions, social media has significant recourse. As quickly as you use people to market your brand, they can turn around and do the opposite if they feel betrayed.
Will Ms. Digby succeed? Maybe. She does have a lot of support behind her. But there are a lot of people with egg on their faces. And it's likely that they won't apologize or even act like they did anything wrong. So we'll see, right?
Here's Marie Digby's youtube site http://youtube.com/user/MarieDigby. She's actually pretty good.
by Brandon Murphy