What You Could Learn From … Soulja Boy’s Social Media Marketing Success

In a recent chat with the Wall Street Journal, recording artist Soulja Boy detailed how he's used a social media strategy to gain profits.

Tell the truth: When you saw the name Soulja Boy in the headline, you grimaced, right? After all, what could the average professional or entrepreneur learn from a guy who has blown his nose with $100 bills and flaunted his perceived wealth via a video showcasing money stuffed in shoe boxes and lavish diamond-encrusted pendants? (And let us not forget his infamous “shout out” to slave masters and controversial lyrics, which have received significant backlash.)

But on Oct. 29, the 20-year-old platinum-selling recording star–whose smash “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” made him one of the youngest artists to have a No. 1 single on Billboard’s Hot 100–sat down with Lee Hawkins of the Wall Street Journal to discuss how he used social media to expand his brand and ultimately, his profits. Despite his controversial missteps, such a discussion brings to light social media marketing strategies that could benefit almost any burgeoning entrepreneur or BE Nexter.  

See the video below, and then read our tips for what you can learn from it.

Strategically using social media to build a fan/consumer/follower base on an independent grassroots level can provide a big boost to a company bottom line:

  • Positioning: Soulja Boy told the WSJ that as a high schooler he used a free music community site that incorporates social media called SoundClick to download his music. He says he “built his name” on the site, reaching Top 10 among artists and decided to expand, creating a Myspace profile where he began to get requests for performances.
  • Linking: He linked the pages so that users who visited his SoundClick profile would also be directed to his Myspace page, (which has now amassed more than 86 million views). With linking the pages, he says plays of his songs began to increase and, after he reached his first million, he says he then began making money from the downloads, generating over $100,000 via SoundClick with a deal that lets artists sell their songs for $1 (with 50% going back to SoundClick.) He says he averaged about 19,000 downloads per day via SoundClick.

Check out our related content on maximizing your social media strategy:

Social Media: The New Currency

What’s Your Social Media Strategy

Engaging with a consumer/fan base and presenting an idea/concept/product in a way cool enough to go viral can also expand your brand exposure and profits:

  • Independent DIY: As an unsigned artist, he created his own YouTube channel (which has garnered almost 30 million views) as well as his other Web pages, where he’d feature self-made videos. The “Crank That” dance which went along with his single “Crank That (Soulja Boy), (which broke records in 2008 with more than three million for digital downloads of the song) became viral and helped boost popularity for the single.
  • Viral Vision: The You Tube instructional video had more than 20 million views since being added to You Tube, and sparked the creation of tens of thousand of homemade videos featuring the dance.  Subsequently, the single rose to the top of the Hot 100 Billboard chart. Soulja Boy tells WSJ that he now has an ad-sharing deal with You Tube, generating quite a bit of revenue outside of what he takes home from the usual record deal funds.

Paying attention to new innovations in technology could help grow your business:

  • What’s next: Soulja Boy says to promote his new album releasing later this month, he is using a service called SayNow.com that allows users to subscribe to a phone number he is assigned, and when he leaves a voicemail message on that number, all of his subscribers (he currently has 4.9 million of them) will get his message. The rapper noted that he thinks it’s an even more effective way to actually talk to your fans than using Twitter–which limits you to 140 characters.

Read more: Check out our related content on how to increase your presence and monetize your brand via Web:

How to Capture the Eyes (and Wallets) of Web Users

How-to: Effective Marketing on Twitter

How to Increase Your Online Presence

What strategies have you used via social media to expand your brand/customer base/company exposure?