By Scott Aughtmon published September 27, 2011

The Content Strategy that Made Justin Bieber a Star

Justin Bieber is currently one of the biggest pop stars in the world, but the question is, how did he get so big, so quickly?

Fellow musician and singer Usher had a big part in making this happen by signing Bieber to his label, but other influences played just as big a part in helping him explode onto the scene.

One of those influences is Disney; Radio Disney to be exact.

I’d like to reveal to you the impressive content strategy that Disney used to help make Justin Bieber famous and dominate the pre-teen music niche.

As you review the steps that Disney implemented, you will see that you can duplicate the principles to propel your own content channels and content marketing efforts to new levels.

A need for kid-friendly music content

You might not realize this but before 1996 there were no music stations aimed at younger kids. This created a huge problem for parents who wanted to find something appropriate to listen to when driving with their kids.

The only real choices parents had were:

  • Listening to the music radio stations, they normally listened to and hoping their kids didn’t pick up on any inappropriate content or lyrics.
  • Listening to the same kids’ CDs over and over. (Warning: Barney can make you go insane if you overdose on his music.)

There wasn’t really a middle option. But in 1996, Disney did something ingenious: They created a channel to distribute a type of content (music) designed to appeal to both kids and families. The channel they created was an AM station called, “Radio Disney.”  At first, the channel just played old, “clean” songs from groups like NSYNC, The Backstreet Boys, The Spice Girls. But a few years later, Disney began launching its own roster of music artists. As a result, its content channel became so popular and powerful that the company gained four marketing advantages:

  1. Disney could promote its other content channels and experience providers for little to no cost (i.e., The Disney Channel, Disney’s movies, and its theme parks).
  2. The company was able to create its own stars in this niche and propel artists from other labels into stardom. The Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, the High School Musical stars, and even Justin Bieber all owe much of their fame and status to Radio Disney.
  3. This content became so popular and desired that other channels began programming their stations with Radio Disney’s music (for example, I heard a Miley Cyrus song as background track on an American Idol audition episode).
  4. Other businesses are now paying Disney to promote/ advertise their own products or services to the massive audience that Radio Disney has gathered.

Now, obviously, not everyone can leverage its content in the same way as Disney has. But you can do something similar in a small niche or sub-niche. You just need to use the right strategy to build a content channel that works for you and your audience.

How you can apply these same content strategy steps to build your site or business:

  • Look for an under-served niche related to your business that has few or no content channels. Disney could never have gained much ground in the teen music niche because it was flooded with radio stations. The company wisely entered the tween niche instead  where there was virtually no competition.
  • Begin with content created by others to build an audience, establish your expertise, and establish your channel as the go-to place to get the entertainment or information your audience needs/ craves. There are many ways to do this. For example, you could use public domain content or get lesser-known experts who don’t have their own content channels to create the content for you.
  • Create your own content and establish your own experts. As you begin to gather an audience, learn what they want. Find out what questions they have, what they like and what they dislike. Find out what type of content they prefer.  Two of the easiest ways to do this are:
  •  Create an online poll or survey and ask your blog readers, e-zine subscribers, or social media followers to give input.
  • Write a blog post or email to your subscribers and ask people what they like, dislike,  and simply let them comment or reply by email.  Once you have this information, then you,  your associates, or others you respect in your niche can provide that content. (Junta42.com is a great example.)
  • Interact with your audience, connect with them, and reward them for coming to you for their content. For example, Disney provided opportunities for its audience to call in and give birthday wishes, vote for songs they wanted to keep, request songs, win prizes. You can and should do the same.

When Radio Disney first started playing Justin Bieber on its “Pick It Or Kick It” segment I wondered, “Who’s this kid with the good voice and catchy lyrics?” He was later picked up and put into high rotation on the channel. They brought him into the studio, interviewed him, and posted the video on RadioDisney.com.

As the fans responded, Radio Disney continued to play more and more Justin Bieber songs. They interviewed him more, and even had him on as a guest host.

All of these things helped launch Justin Bieber from a YouTube novelty hit to a worldwide musical sensation.

Author: Scott Aughtmon

Scott Aughtmon is the author of the book 51 Content Marketing Hacks. He is a regular contributor to ContentMarketingInstitute.com and he is the person behind the popular infographic 21 Types of Content We Crave. He is a business strategist, consultant, content creation specialist, and speaker. He’s been studying effective marketing and business methods (both online and offline) since 1999. He has a unique perspective and ability to communicate ideas and concepts in a way that can help you climb to new heights. Read more of Scott's insights on his blog. Follow Scott on Twitter @rampbusinesses.

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  • http://www.contentequalsmoney.com Emma Richardson

    I will admit to being dubious of this post in the beginning, but I’m glad I waded past the Bieber stigma and stuck around. Fascinating analysis here. Do you recommend republishing content related to your brand in the beginning – syndicated blogs and the like? I noticed that you suggested using public domain content, but I’m wondering if this is applicable to blogs in our same industry.

    • http://recessionsolution.wordpress.com/ Scott Aughtmon

      Haha.  Glad you took the “risk” and read it anyway!  And if you think it was difficult to get up the nerve to read this, imagine how much will-power it took for me to write about him and submit this!   😉

    • http://recessionsolution.wordpress.com/ Scott Aughtmon

      If by “republishing content related to your brand at the beginning” you mean curating content related to your brand or product, then yes.  That would work well. 

      • http://www.contentequalsmoney.com Emma Richardson

        Yes, that’s indeed exactly what I meant. Thanks for clarifying! And there’s no shame in writing about Bieber – I have to imagine his SEO ranking is through the roof. :)

        • http://recessionsolution.wordpress.com/ Scott Aughtmon

          That’s true!  Maybe on can ride along on his SEO power!  :)

  • Kizzle

    Excellent article, and one that can be adapted to many types of content. Using Justin Bieber as the example shows just how powerful and effective good content marketing can be.

  • http://twitter.com/Mywritingworld Fran Aslam

    Well that is a great source of knowing what to do when launching your first product  Most likey a nich not too popular but has a great demand will make you shine like a star.  Though effort is the same as any other niche but because of least supply you will reach your top much faster.  Good read.  Fran A

  • http://www.soulnyc.com Tommy Spero

    Great article. Guy Kawasaki spoke at his IMS keynote about how Justin Bieber’s Movie, Never Say Never, was the greatest Marketing, mentoring and viral marketing ever made. I haven’t seen it, but you can see clearly how the quickly the machine is rolling and doing alot of things right. As for Disney, they’re kicking it up a notch every day. Each tv show has it’s own stars who break out and release albums and all manner of merchandise to peddle. 

    • http://recessionsolution.wordpress.com/ Scott Aughtmon

      You’re right about Disney kicking it up a notch everyday.  It reminds me of the golden, olden days of film with each star being able to act and sing.  They are geniuses at creating spin-off “products” with their stars.

  • http://termpaperwriter.org/ research paper

    Good article! Thanks for it!

  • http://infinity-web-solutions.com/ Infinity

    Nice article! Now people knew one of Justin’s secret to stardom! Cool!

  • http://done4ucopywriting.com Judith

    Your title got me hooked.  Not really a Bieber fan but I couldn’t resist finding out the connection.  :) 

    Disney is a great role model for any type of marketing as you so clearly demonstrated.  Aside from radio, movie, TV and theme park, they also have collectible items and memorabilia for all their ventures.  Talk about getting mileage for every idea.  :)

    • http://recessionsolution.wordpress.com/ Scott Aughtmon

      Glad it hooked you in!  :)  You’re right.  They know how to take one idea and use it in multiple arenas until they exponentially grow their profits from it.

  • Abhilash Potharaju

    S.A.D

  • robert orr

    Now, obviously, not everyone can leverage its content in the
    same way as Disney has. But you can do something similar in a small
    niche or sub-niche. You just need to use the right strategy to build a content channel that works for you and your audience.

    So basically, youre showing an example that basicallt no one else can relate to.
    Useful.

    Its like telling an upcoming chef about how Ray Kroc bought McDonalds…

    I am sad that the word synergy has fallen in disrepute recently. You could hear presentation where the word was used 22 times a minute.

  • Sabiha mehzabeen

    Nice article!so,that’s what made Justin famous,huh

  • Jeff

    Soooo…. let me get this right — I just need to start my own radio station with the money of Disney, in an under served niche.  OK, good plan.  I’ll get right on it!

  • Natelly Gata

    hi am a girl very rich and he can say pretty good because he eeee a very beautiful boy. vomake a proposal for you. you will sing a song on the radio justin complete new drink also aChristmas Merry Christmas to all bjustin

  • http://twitter.com/rampbusinesses Scott Aughtmon

    Jeff – If you read the section at the end of my post called “How you can apply these same content strategy steps to build your site or business:” you’d see how to apply the strategy. I am not suggesting people start a radio station.

    Robert Orr – The same strategy CAN be applied in a smaller niche. And an upcoming chef can learn from Ray Kroc. Others who have read the post seem to have understood my point. Sorry you didn’t.