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Lady Gaga Cares

April 13, 2011

Last night, Lady Gaga performed at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida as part of her Monster Ball Tour. This of course is the home of the Florida Panthers but also is a great venue for live music and a very popular one as SSE President and COO Michael Yormark tweeted.

There were many takeaways from the night as Gaga is a fantastic performer and her live show is definitely an exciting and wild event. What I took away most from the evening is that Gaga has a very passionate and loyal fan base. Her fans came out in full force wearing her tour shirts, costumes from music videos, and generally creative garb. They are loud and energetic creating a fun atmosphere that draws in the most casual of Gaga fans, like me. How’d Lady Gaga create this kind of following? My thoughts:

1) She loves her fans. This is the most basic element of her success in building a community. When you see Gaga live, you understand that she genuinely loves her fans, and her fans love her for it. At one point in the show, fans were throwing gifts to her between songs. One of the gifts was a leather jacket, and she wore it for a few songs. She even made a comment about how her fans make her feel that she has “earned her leather.” Fans want to feel loved by their favorite athletes and entertainers. We love them, so of course, they should love us, we think. Some athletes and entertainers take their fans for granted but not Gaga. She constantly is reminding her “little monsters” how special they are and that they encourage her to wake up every morning and work hard. Here is an interview that Gaga recently had at Google in which a fan asked how Gaga was doing. Start at the 5 minute mark and listen to the question and the response from Gaga. Her fans love her, and she loves her fans. It’s real.

2) She champions a cause that is close to her heart and close to the hearts of her fans. Lady Gaga is known for supporting the rights of the LGBT community, and she was doing so last night. The key in her support is that it is again genuine. It’s an issue that is important to her, and the more you hear her talk about her work with the LGBT community, the more you understand that. Last night, she was encouraging her fans to help her raise money for shelters that help homeless children in the LGBT community. She also announced that she’ll be matching a percentage of the donations that are made. Many athletes and entertainers support great causes and charities. Typically, the ones that do the best job are the ones that really care and believe in the work that they’re doing. This care is seen by the fans, and everyone is drawn closer together by a support of common charitable and social issues. Is it necessary to do charitable or social work in order to build a strong community? No, but the point is that doing charitable or social work with genuine care is one way that an athlete or entertainer can connect with their fan base. Lady Gaga has had success because her support of the LGBT community is obviously real.

3) Lady Gaga does a good job of maintaining her presence online. In the answer to the first question asked at the Google interview, she mentioned that she goes online to read fan comments and see fan videos. She also releases new work on Twitter which is a direct link to her fans and has a YouTube channel in which she posts videos and allows fans to post comments. Of course, Facebook is also used. A strong presence in social media and online outlets is not a new thing anymore, but it’s still very important and the athletes and entertainers that are most successful in building a community around themselves are embracing the different opportunities that are available for connecting with fans. If Gaga wasn’t on YouTube with her own channel, she’d still be a big star, but because she has her own page, her fans can view her videos in a themed setting and comment in one place. She maintains an online presence that allows her to connect with fans, her fans to connect with her, and her fans to connect with each other. I would go back to the common thread of caring to argue that Gaga’s online presence is strong because she wants to connect with her fans and wants her fans to feel like she’s there for them.

Lady Gaga has shown the blueprint for building a strong community in today’s sports and entertainment industries – care about your fans and extend this care throughout your work. Fans want to be drawn in to the entities in these industries whether they are individuals, groups, leagues, teams, or events. We want to feel like the places that we spend money are caring about us for spending our money and our time. In today’s sports and entertainment industries, entities can reach out and reward their followers by genuinely caring about them. Gaga’s relentless emphasis on caring for her fans is the reason that her community is so strong. There are plenty of major artists, but the biggest ones will be the ones that build a community to support them in their craft.

– Jason

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