When music connoisseurs consider the best rappers of this generation, few people would think to add Soulja Boy to that list, except in jest.
But when it comes to the most successful, he definitely deserves a place. Soulja Boy may not write the most profound lyrics in the rap game, but he can teach even public relations and marketing experts a thing or two about how to build a successful brand.
In fact, while some of the most famous musicians in the world relied on support from other artists to become famous, Soulja Boy singlehandedly built up his name and reputation by using social media.
As of November 2016, Soulja Boy reigns over an impressive 4.96 million followers on Twitter alone – more than three times his following in 2009. At the time, the young star’s Twitter showed ‘only’ 1.6 million followers, according to Everything PR.
The artist also maintains a YouTube channel which draws millions of views. Today, he mostly raps about his lavish lifestyle and the money he made from his music, in explicit songs like “Diamonds & Gold” and “Make it Rain”.
How did he do it? And how can you use his methods to achieve similar success?
Make use of Freebies
More brands should make use of free or cost-effective opportunities that don’t cut into the bottom line. These opportunities shouldn’t just relate to marketing and advertising, but also production and distribution.
For instance, Soulja Boy used Soundclick and Myspace to build his name, grow his brand and increase visibility. He then released his future platinum selling recording on YouTube, which generated a lot of interest and income, and later landed him a recording deal. This may cost a lot of time, but it didn’t cost him a cent.
Use Multiple Platforms and Link Them
Soulja Boy does not rely on one or two social media platforms to boost his success. Instead, he uses quite a few; including YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. He then links the pages to each other to capitalize on the fact that different platforms provide different ways of representing himself and his brand.
Create Something Catchy
This is often a hit or miss, but if companies can strike the right note and make something that catches on or goes viral, this secures the visibility of their brand.
This is what Soulja Boy did when he not only created the “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” song, but also threw in a catchy dance move that everyone wanted to try. The dance move coupled with the song drove his music to viral stages.
Engage Your Audience
Creating content represents only one tiny facet of engaging with customers. After this, companies should try to foster two way communications. Soulja Boy used this heavily – especially in the beginning of his career – to talk to fans on Twitter. He even left them voice messages on their phones using a service called SayNow.com.
In fact, unlike other labels and artists who use teams to connect with fans, he still speaks to them directly on his own. He believes this is an important part of the bonding experience and enjoys doing it.
Use Keywords Effectively
The tags and keywords attached to blogs and articles are equally as important as the content when attracting an audience. Those keywords provide the means for articles to show up in searches consumers make.
Soulja Boy used tags and keywords as well, though in a more questionable form. This is not good practice, but it does illustrate the importance of using the right keywords to gain exposure. In 2014, Forbes detailed the method he took:
“One of Soulja’s early approaches to the Internets’ publishing platforms was… he’d upload his songs, tagging A-listers in the title fields (artists like, Michael Jackson and 50 Cent, to name a few), in hopes of catching a wider set of potential listeners.
People… downloaded his songs, only to realize later that it was not the King of Pops’ ‘Billy Jean.’ However questionable this method may have been, it gained him one thing above all else: exposure.”
Use Publicity Stunts and Take Advantage of Good Gossip
Publicity stunts refer to daring ‘performances’ brands sometimes put on to attract attention. However, often times these stunts do not represent the real situation. And when they do, the participants saved it for a public place on purpose.
One such stunt for Soulja Boy involved an alleged engagement to Rosa Acosta, a classical dancer and fitness model. MediaTake Out, the site which started the rumor, refused to share the source of the information.
However, as proof, they did share a picture of Rosa kissing Soulja Boy on the cheek, while wearing what looked like an engagement ring.
When Soulja Boy saw the post, rather than address and dissolve the rumors, he opted to keep the mystery going. During this time, the two celebrities trended on Twitter, while fans and the media speculated about whether or not they intended to marry. In the end, fans learned that it was Rosa’s mother who gave her the ring.
A Final Word
While not all of Soulja Boy’s practices are good for companies to mirror, it does set a framework for marketing specialists to step up the game while representing brands. It also shows how dedication, luck and creativity go a long way in pushing brands to the forefront, even on limited resources.