What We Can Learn from Kanye, Taylor and Beyonce

Today I spoke to a group of CIOs at a Technet event. As I was preparing for the speech and tailoring my presentation for the group, I really wanted to hit the message home that the days of control are behind us. Our job now as technologists and marketers is to enable the technology and leverage it to influence others. We can no longer control the conversation.

The photo from Jason Decrow of the Associated Press says it all. Kanye West lives in a world where he’s free to publicly state his opinion. Regardless of his rude timing and the pain it may have put on Taylor Swift… Kanye is doing what all of us are free to do nowadays. This is a lesson to all of us. We live in a world where any of us can jump on the stage and speak our mind. We all have a microphone (some of us have bigger crowds than others).

Whether it’s positive or negative, this is what companies fear the most about social media… the loss of control. The irony is that, instead of fearing it, they could be leveraging it. Beyoncé’s response to Kanye’s outburst was to give Taylor Swift the microphone during Beyoncé’s acceptance and allow her to finish her acceptance speech. Beyoncé allowing Taylor to use her time was incredibly gracious and no doubt Beyoncé will be remembered for her selflessness. While it probably wasn’t a premeditated public relations move, it was nevertheless brilliant.

Your business is going to run into a Kanye sooner or later. You can hide, not respond, or do something spectacular… utilize the opportunity to do something that makes you stand out. I don’t really remember what Kanye said, other than “Imma let you finish”. I don’t remember Taylor’s acceptance speech. I don’t even remember Taylor’s video. The lasting impression out of the entire episode, in my opinion, was Beyoncé’s response.

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Rather than being paralyzed with fear, companies should be looking at how they can enable and influence others through social media. Then again, perhaps it was just the dress. Full disclosure: I did think Beyoncé’s video should have received the award, too.

5 Comments

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    Doug, nice observations. While you can't control the conversation any longer, enterprising marketers can still influence it. It takes a good deal of situational awareness and tact to locate the conversations going on around your brand and make yourself present in a way that communicates confidence and interest in the discussion, but it pays off big time. Find your Kanyes and engage them!

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