Lady Gaga has always had a huge web presence, being the first person to notch up over one billion overall video views on YouTube, as well as having achieved an impressive 10 million likes on Facebook. She has also been extremely successful with promotional campaigns in recent years. It seems like a logical step, then, that Ms. Gaga should wish to consolidate this massive internet following into one place. And what better way to do that than by setting up her very own social media network?
Called Littlemonsters.com – after the pet name she gives to her fans – the site went live early in 2012 and resembles something of a cross between Reddit and Pinterest. Created by start-up company Backplane, it is intended to ‘unite people around interests, affinities and movements’, according to CEO Matt Michelsen. Obviously, in this case, the main shared interest is Gaga and her music, but the site also acts as a creative hub, allowing users to submit related videos, web content and photos.
Some may be put off by the fact that the site revolves around one person’s character and personality, but this is absolutely the intention behind Littlemonsters.com. It is not attempting to ape ‘true’ social media networks like Facebook by catering to all types of people and their interests, but is rather a way to gather hardcore Gaga fans in one place, keeping them up-to-date with all the latest news and updates. Gaga’s talent manager Troy Carter explains the importance of maintaining a core fan base: ‘It’s more important to have… one million diehard fans, than to have 54 million people who aren’t necessarily fans or they might have liked one thing you said, or one video.’ In other words, look after your fans and they will reward you with continued loyalty. It’s this philosophy that will ensure the success of Littlemonsters.com and Lady Gaga’s career in general.
This is, of course, by no means the first time that celebrities have used social media as a tool to either expand their fan base or raise their profile in some way: many celebrities reach out through social media, either to promote themselves or other companies and organisations. Joel and Benji Madden of pop-punk band Good Charlotte, for example, recently used Facebook to generate a huge amount of publicity for themselves and KFC’s ‘Good Times’ Australia campaign.
Savvy celebrities use social media to good effect, but it can sometimes be a double-edged sword. In 2009, the singer Courtney Love made a series of threatening comments on Twitter directed at a Texas fashion designer. The resulting backlash is not something any celebrity would want to provoke. As controversial as Lady Gaga can be, she is unlikely to repeat this kind of social media gaffe.
Whichever way you look at it, social media has changed not only marketing campaigns, but also the very nature of fan interaction with celebrities. Littlemonsters.com capitalises on this movement, and with over one million users to date, Lady Gaga’s notoriety can only be set to go from strength to strength.