This week Lemonade has been almost all we can talk about.
Even if you didn’t know anything about it, I can guarantee that you have noticed the word lemonade all over the internet.
Just in case you still haven’t made the connection (where have you been!?) the lemonade I am referring to is, of course, the new visual album by Beyonce.
In a film of songs and spoken poetry accompanied by dance and visuals, Beyonce explores what it is to be a black woman in the USA, referencing Malcom X who said that ‘the black woman is the most disrespected person in America’.
The album was a surprise release on Sunday and was made available to stream on Tidal after the mini film Lemonade aired on HBO.
Lemonade rumours through @TheBeyHiveTeam
When rumours started that Beyonce’s new single might be called ‘Formation’,‘Hive’ (Beyonce’s fan club) started buzzing around and searching for clues to what might be going on.
Having a fanclub prepared to follow up any whisper of activity meant that only Beyonce’s stunt double had to be seen filming to set the content marketing ball rolling.
The fans also made their discoveries even more exciting by using #TweetandDelete to give the information both an expiry date and even more secrecy.
Beyonce performed Formation at the Superbowl half-time show but there is still no mention of a date for the release of the album. The performance was broadly critiqued and spawned further rumours of an impending album release. After all, who would release a single and perform at the Superbowl if an album wasn’t at least in the pipeline?
The rumours were followed up by @TheBeyHiveTeam who announced in an exclusive tweet that an album and mini film have been completed but no release date was announced.
EXCLUSIVE: We just received official word that Beyoncé’s sixth studio album and mini film are DONE & rock solid set for an April release! 🐝
— THE BEYHIVÉ (@TheBeyHiveTeam) 20 March 2016
A day later a YouTube advert was released. This 20 second preview is just a shot of Beyonce, face hidden by a huge fur sleeve with an ominous chord gradually getting louder and then Beyonce’s whispering voice ‘what am I going to do?’
Short enough to share quickly and intriguing enough to interest friends, this clip gave the rumours a foundation they could fly from without actually giving any more information away.
NEW TRAILER! for Beyoncé’s LEMONADE! A WORLD PREMIERE EVENT! 4.23.16 on HBO at 9PM ET!🍋🐝 pic.twitter.com/i0wyw0dfKl
— THE BEYHIVÉ (@TheBeyHiveTeam) 21 April 2016
The Team also created a count down to the HBO premiere on their Twitter profile using gifs of the visual album with each tweet as teasers.
What does the timeline tell us?
Over the course of this timeline, the following for @TheBeyHiveTeam increased from 24,853 followers on February 2nd to 61,262 on April 28th. They quietly drew followers with their teasers and promises of big things to come.
These promises were based on the sense of exclusivity that the tweets created and the idea that all the information provided was a secret.
By using #TweetandDelete, the team made their announcements short term which meant that once the tweet was deleted there would be no evidence of the rumour they’d started making it all the more mysterious.
Have a look at this graph from Google Trends.
You can see quite clearly that the terms have all increased sharply, with ‘Beyonce’ and ‘Lemonade’ making sudden breakouts. Both terms peak on Sunday when Lemonade became available on iTunes and Tidal to download.
You can also see this on a graph by Twitter showing the increase in the lemon and bee emojis. @TheBeyHiveTeam encouraged their followers to use the emojis together as a shorthand to reference the album.
You can also see this on a graph by Twitter showing the increase in the lemon and bee emojis.
The @Beyonce effect: We’re seeing notable spikes in use of the 🍋 and 🐝 emojis on Twitter. #LEMONADE pic.twitter.com/RwnQtJDFuj
— Twitter Data (@TwitterData) April 28, 2016
Using emojis like this is smart content marketing. For a start the sudden increase in their use will spark curiosity in anyone not familiar with their meaning. Using the two emojis together also means that their message together is particular to the album release and nothing else. The emojis are also a convenient shorthand that leaves the tweeters more space to give their comments or provide links etc.
@TheBeyHiveTeam also retweeted:
In the past 24 hours, @Beyonce and #LEMONADE have been tweeted about 2.9 million times. Who run the world? pic.twitter.com/SgaE8R17pN
— Good Morning America (@GMA) April 24, 2016
Using #lemonade is a great way of tracking how many people are talking about the album release as well as giving people an easy way to join the conversation and see what has already been said.
Once a tweet has started trending, they tend to suddenly become even more popular creating a breakout in the use of the term. The album release created a tipping point for the search terms and emojis alike.
How the tweets keep us intrigued
Apart from their fairly regular intervals, the tweets encompass a variety of media including gifs, video links and images to draw us in. By going for this mixed media approach, and using a variety of videos and images that create the sense of building up to something special, their target audience was given plenty to get excited about.
Using a countdown is a classic technique to create suspension (just think of the TV series 24) and here it ramped up expectation. The countdown also gave the sense that if you aren’t there are the right time then you would miss out on something amazing. And we all know that there is nothing like FOMO to motivate people to do what we want.
The tweets also open up the conversation to predictions about when the album is likely to be ‘surprise’ launched. This invites people to talk about their own predictions and ramps up anticipation even more.
The Real Test of Success
It’s all very well to say that ‘Lemonade’ and ‘Beyonce’ are trending on google and twitter alike but the real test of how well content marketing has done is looking at the cold hard sales figures. After all, the purpose of all the content marketing was to sell the album and the songs.
The album is currently number one on lots of charts around the world and in the US has six songs in the top ten, all from Lemonade.
It has been predicted that Beyonce sold 200,000 copies on the first day of sale. It has also been predicted that the album could finish the week with up to 600,000 sales.
With the album priced at £13.99 in the UK and $17.99 in the US, this means a pretty substantial amount of profit for the star.
Let’s not forget that Beyonce has a 3% share in Tidal which in the last week has rapidly moved up the list for most downloaded app in iTunes. This is partly due to the fact that the mini film and music was only available to stream on this site to begin with.
Clearly, the content marketing intrigued enough people to sign up to Tidal before the general release to get the scoop.
Further intrigue and talking points
Since the release of Lemonade, Jay Z and Beyonce have both been photographed without their wedding rings on. But because the album will benefit both of them (Jay Z is the main shareholder in Tidal his streaming service) some people are suggesting that the rumours that Jay Z cheated are nothing more than a publicity stunt.
Many people are also trying to figure out who ‘Becky with the good hair’ is to discover any gossip there. And there are plenty of z-list celebs trying to persuade people that Becky is really them.
The question of who Becky is also happens to be cropping up around the web in the form of merchandise. Even though a lot of these things aren’t official merchandise, they do turn people into walking advertisements for Lemonade and Beyonce. And let’s face it, by letting others produce merch like this, Beyonce is profiting without any effort.
By keeping people talking both in the media and social media, Lemonade and Beyonce continue to be hot topics leading more and more people to the source of the gossip – the album.
So How Can You Change Your Content Marketing Strategy?
Beyonce and her team have clearly mastered the fine art of creating suspense and surprise.
With her large fanbase and her hardcore Bey Hive, Beyonce had the resources to get a lot of shares and quickly which helped ‘lemonade’ and ‘Beyonce’ breakout and start trending on Twitter and Google.
You might think that a content marketing campaign like this would be too expensive and difficult to pull off for anyone without the vast resources of Beyonce and Jay Z. But with our help you too can create content marketing and social media campaigns that have a considerable impact on your business.
At Online Ventures Group we thrive on the new and the creative. We work with people across a variety of industries and will put in the hard work you don’t have time for to make you as awesome as Beyonce.
To find out more about the services we offer and how we can help you optimise your brand through content marketing give us a call on 0844 871 72911 and we’ll be more than happy to have a chat.