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.

Other posts by Scott Aughtmon

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