Queen Bey’s Social Strategy Gets an A+
Beyoncé tweets once a year. When she posts on Instagram, she lets the photos do the talking; no caption included and an adjacent comment section open to forum. Is it crazy? No, it’s Beyoncé.
It’s part of a larger strategy that shows her tight-lipped control over the chatter that surrounds her, including an air-tight narrative and NDAs as slick as her leotards. She doesn’t speak to the press unless they agree to her terms and conditions, and, when she does, it’s because she has something prolific to say. Take, for instance, her cover for this year’s September Issue of Vogue. Sure, she shares a lot in the ensuing interview, but her biggest statement was showcased on page one: the cover. Not the photo per se, but the fact that for the first time in the magazine’s 126-year history, the cover was shot by Tyler Mitchell, a photographer of color, and a distinction that likely would have eluded them further if it weren’t for Beyoncé’s editorial control over the issue.
Crazy in Love with her impact
Her media blackouts and the unconventional ways in which she and her husband release their music allows them to sidestep industry conventions. No months-long press tours, stops on Carpool Karaoke or stories running daily on TMZ citing “sources close to the family” (at least not since the 2014 Met Gala). It means that when Beyoncé tweets, we all pay attention – Beyhive member or not. Her tweet on April 23, 2016 announcing the surprise release of her visual album, Lemonade, has been retweeted 110,000 times. It’s safe to say that not many business models could survive on one tweet per year, but Beyoncé isn’t just any business model. She’s earned that privilege on her own merits.
Is it an “old adage” if it’s only been around since 2006? Either way, there’s an ‘old adage’ about free services, like Twitter, that states, “if you’re not paying for it, you’re the product.” Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are free services that make money off of advertisers based on the number of active users. Even so, Beyoncé has found a way to make the platform work for her specific needs, rather than the other way around.
Her lack of interest in traditional media channels speaks loudly to her understanding of social media. She opens up about this topic in her Vogue interview, saying,
The beauty of social media is it’s completely democratic. Everyone has a say. Everyone’s voice counts and everyone has a chance to paint the world from their own perspective.
Here, she’s addressing the lack of diversity in media and entertainment, but also acknowledges social media as a driver for change and an opportunity for voices of all types to be heard.
All of this to say that there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy to social media; there are untold possibilities out there, and understanding the intricacies of social media can lead to opportunities that might not present themselves otherwise. Tyler Mitchell took a page from Beyoncé’s book, and rather than signing with a creative agent, he used Instagram to curate his portfolio of commercial work and homemade skateboarding videos. At age 23, he photographed her for the cover of Vogue’s September Issue. All hail Queen Bey.