Suspend for a second your personal feelings for Brown and consider what has to have occurred to enable him and his “Team Breezy” base to grow to such a staggering number. In spring of 2011, in support of his fourth studio album, “FAME,” Brown and his management group set out to create buzz around the project with the establishment of a digital-age fan club. Team Breezy was given a producer credit on his album, but more importantly was given access to Brown and his music through private listening parties orchestrated by more than 80 street teams across the globe.
Brown, the artist, delivered premium content in the form of a single available only through a more expensive digital version of his FAME album while including an opportunity to view an exclusive video of the song as a subscriber. But Team Breezy has extended beyond Brown’s produced/owned content to also include the lifestyle site mechanicaldummy.com, which serves as an earned media culture gateway for fans.
TV host and journalist Toure’ recently sparked a heated Twitter confrontation with Team Breezy supporters by commenting on the release of a new Rihanna and Chris Brown music collaboration. The unwavering support and defense of Brown’s past actions were eye-opening, but they also demonstrated the “us against the world” mentality that has been bred inside Team Breezy. This “conflict” between protagonists seems to be a key piece of the Brown digital success. From Team Aniston to Team Jolie of today, to past faux-battles such as the Nike Dan and Dave Olympics campaign, the ability to pick a side seems essential for viral growth.
It is awkward to suggest Chris Brown as a guide for corporate success. Organizations that eat, sleep and breathe image would rightfully be challenged to accept a role model with such dubious public relations and brand exposure. But, nonetheless, the following takeaways remain:
- Social media remains a medium that rewards premium and exclusivity.
- Conflict, whether real or created, can be a growth strategy.
- Social media fans/followers gravitate in much larger numbers to people over companies. No matter how human a company may be, it cannot compete consistently with celebrities on a scale basis.