Five content marketing lessons from Queen Bey

Singer, musician, businesswoman, mother, entertainer, activist, feminist: Beyoncé is so much more than the sum of her (seriously awesome) music

Becci HodgsonHead of Content/UK Editor (Hammerson)

Beyoncé’s staggering level of success hasn’t happened by accident. Yes, she may be immensely talented but she’s also a marketing force to be reckoned with – and there’s plenty we can learn from her in terms of creating effective content for brands.

So, how do you brand it like Beyoncé? Here are the key lessons:

1. Tease it out

Before the surprise launch of her 2016 visual album, Lemonade, Beyoncé shared a 20-second mysterious trailer for the then still-under-wraps project. The singer didn’t make it clear what she was referring to, but told fans to tune into HBO for the ‘world premiere event’. In fact, even before the trailer was shared, Queen Bey had been dropping MAJOR hints about her top-secret album via a series of lemon-themed Instagram posts.

The takeaway: Whether it’s a new product or event, don’t just launch with a fanfare. Use social media to build a teaser campaign and ramp up excitement, intrigue and expectation with your audience. It will generate conversation, building momentum for the big launch, as well as higher levels of engagement when you do go live.

2. Be relatable

With Lemonade, the emotionally charged narrative of the album was familiar to many women – lyrics focused on infidelity, race and female empowerment, so plenty of her fan base had been there (AND bought the T-shirt).

It resonated loud and clear, triggering personal, emotional cues and reactions from her audience. The result? Lemonade debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, became her sixth million-selling album and sparked international debate over ‘Becky with the good hair’.

The takeaway: Know your target audience and understand them inside and out to ensure your brand message and content is authentic and relatable to them. Use audience insight tools to understand their motivation and what will drive an emotional response, then create quality content that will resonate and engage to ensure brand advocacy.

3. Have a point of view

Beyoncé is not afraid to make her opinions heard. And her (predominantly young, female) fans love her for it. Slaying it in her Super Bowl Formation performance: she made a powerful statement about systematic racism and police brutality, all the while celebrating being a confident black woman. That emotional connection with her audience was key – it stayed with them long after the game was over.

The takeaway: Create extra buzz for your campaign by tapping into trending conversations and events. Have a clear role and position and stay true to your brand. Be careful though: it needs to feel and be relevant, not forced. If there is a link then utilise it. If not, step away (we’re looking at you, Kendall Jenner and Pepsi).

4. Source the best talent

Not even Beyoncé can do what she does alone. Over the years she’s collaborated with stars as diverse as Missy Elliott and Jack White. And take her Coachella 2018 performance – it included an appearance from hubby Jay Z, a dance-off with sister Solange and a reunion with her Destiny’s Child bandmates. It was so powerful, it became the most-viewed Coachella performance of all time on YouTube.

The takeaway: Collaborate and make use of your contacts book. Look at the people you have in your inner circles and champion their talents. When you bring people together, you not only raise the profile of the project or campaign, but you’re also able to propel your work by using creatives who are at the top of their game. Never underestimate the power of an influencer, too. Micro-influencers, with their smaller yet more engaged audience, are seen as a more authentic and trusted voice when compared with their million-subscriber counterparts.

5. Sometimes, less is more

Talking about Coachella, Beyoncé was the first black woman to headline the festival (empowerment, tick), just a few months after giving birth to twins (kick-ass hardworking mum, tick). As well as surprise guests, her set also featured a 200-member marching band, jaw-dropping choreography (which she trained for while pregnant) and lasted a bumper 105 minutes. This girl knows how to put on a show to remember – but she made her Beyhive wait for it. The last time she performed was over a year ago.

The takeaway: Sometimes it’s better to focus on putting out high-quality, relevant digital content. Following Facebook’s revised algorithm, which rewards richer content over clickbait, churn-it-out content, this has never been more important. A simple like is no longer enough for social platforms to prioritise your content in the feeds of your followers – Facebook is prioritising comments and shares (content that engages). You need to work for it and put your audience at the centre of everything you do to ensure you hit the content mark.