Why Social Influence Doesn't Equal Social Relevance
Nas is a legendary rapper who has taken on some interesting marketing perspectives in the past, and his recent collaboration with the new Ghostbusters movie may actually be his most provocative. Or maybe not! Why wouldn't a rapper love a good ghost story as a kid? As Nas said himself in an interview with Vibe about the partnership, "What kid doesn't get inspired or intrigued by ghost stories?"
The partnership between the Ghostbusters movie and Nas became a reality through a clothing line based upon the movie. The partnership is actually between Nas and Sony Pictures Consumer Marketing, a company that Nas has a great deal of history with. For the apex of his career in the late 90s and early 2000s, Nas was signed to Sony Music.
Nas is also no slouch in the fashion world, having cultivated his own HSTRY brand of nostalgia clothing. This partnership is teaming up with at least five other companies: New Era, Monster, Tokyobike, FILA and Italia Independent for hats, headphones, bikes, shoes and eyewear respectively.
How again is this an "unlikely partnership"?
Doing Good Business
Sony and the other companies that are associated with the Nas brand HSTRY have been doing business with rappers for years; however, it was mostly for urban brands, and usually only during the heyday of said rapper. Nas has an above average profile, to be sure, but he is hardly the top dog in the game of modern rap. Why, then, would so many companies choose to partner with him rather than with a newer, hotter rapper?
The demographic that would remember the original Ghostbusters movie and Nas in his heyday is the Western male, ages 25 and up. On the two social media platforms geared towards males 25 and up, Facebook and Twitter, Nas has 4 million and 2 million followers, respectively. These followers look to Nas' social media pages as news outlets that are in part centered around Nas, in much the same way that 50 Cent fans look at 50's hip hop gossip website, ThisIs50.com. Yes, there may be some direct news about Nas and 50 on their sites, but most of the content is geared towards upholding the reality that allowed each star to shine.
For instance, two out of the last three posts on Nas' Facebook page (as this is written) are quotes from author/philosophers Maya Angelou and Basquiat. The third post is a black and white of a young, smiling Nas, and the Basquiat quote got 5,000 more likes than the Nas picture.
Ghostbusters can easily partner with an influencer like this because of the ability of Nas' name to draw attention to aspects of culture that are related to his public persona. Nas may have to "drop an album" to become "relevant" to hip hop again, but Nas does not have to "drop an album" in order to maintain social influence.
The Truth About Social Influencers
The partnership between Nas and the Ghostbusters movie reveals an interesting truth about social influencers to savvy marketers -- social influence and social relevance are two completely different things. If you are always looking for the most popular option to bolster your brand, then you may be looking in the wrong direction (and paying too much). It behooves marketers to take a long look at the type of audience that converges to the social media pages of a particular brand as the most important metric of partnership viability.
The truth about social influencers is that they are hardly ever the center of their own world. Most of them, especially on YouTube, got the audience that they have by pitching brands that were giving them nothing. For instance, popular gossip channels Tana Mongeau, IAmJustAMakeupLover and Lauren Jane all got their start as makeup tutorial channels, listing brands that they used by name. The environment they cultivated eventually veered off into discussions of their personal lives, but all three of those channels have received sponsorships from the brands that they used to hawk for free, and at a premium!
Why wouldn't these brands drill down a bit to find channels like Makeup with Jah or GinsMakeup that could give them the same pitch for less money to a more targeted audience? Sponsors would not pay the premium that comes with celebrity, and conversion rates would likely be higher.
The moral of the story: Drill down into the target audience to find out where they really get their information from. If you look only at the most popular names on YouTube or Instagram, you are missing out on the true purveyors of your brand. The Ghostbusters film could have tried to attach itself to a new, "hot" rapper to bring in the kids - however, they made a great financial decision and marketing move by drilling down and partnering with Nas.
What do you think of Nas' partnership with Ghostbusters? Does social influence equal social relevance? Leave a comment below and tell me what you think? :)
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