#monsterloyalty: Jackie Huba shares Lady Gaga's loyalty lessons in new book

(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Lady Gaga's relationship with her 36 million Twitter followers is no Bad Romance. In her upcoming book, local author, Jackie Huba is sharing seven loyalty lessons that helped the pop star build and inspire her community and that the businesses can use to foster customer loyalty. We sat down with Jackie to talk more about the book and the lessons readers can look forward to learning when it launches on May 2nd.  

Q. Your new book Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga turns Followers into Fanatics hits shelves May 2. We have to ask, what inspired you to write a business book about Lady Gaga?

A. I've been intrigued with Lady Gaga as an artist since she burst on to the music scene in 2009. In studying her in-depth for four years, I began to see that Lady Gaga is doing something casual observers and many business professionals may not really comprehend. While creating a buzz with her wild outfits and crazy performance art, she is methodically building a grassroots base of passionate fans for the long term. The more I observed, the more I began to realize that there is a lot she could teach the business world about how to generate customer loyalty.

Q. The book covers seven loyalty lessons from Lady Gaga, do you have a favorite?

A. The most important, and perhaps, surprising lesson that Gaga can teach businesses is how to build your business by focusing on long-term, sustainable customer loyalty. Research has long shown that it's five times cheaper to keep a customer than to get new ones. Yet recent Forrester Research studies show CMO's are focusing their marketing efforts 2 to 1 on getting new customers over keeping the customers they have. Gaga, though, gets the math. It's her overarching philosophy to focus almost exlusively on her core advocates, the superfans, the Little Monsters, as she calls them. These advocates will ultimately be evangelists who bring in new customers on their own. These advocates often make up about 1% of a business' customer base. I call them the "One Percenters"

Q. Where did this idea of the "One Percenters" originate?

A: The idea of the One Percenters is based on research that my co-author Ben McConnell and I did for our 2007 book, Citizen Marketers. In the early days of online community and social media, we looked at online communities and tracked what percentage of members in those communities created content. In other words, who was most engaged. We found it amounted to just 1 percent of the total community members. This was surprising. The amount of super-engaged community members did not follow the usual 80/20 rule (aka the Pareto principle) which states that 80 percent of value comes from 20 percent of participants. Our research was showing the volume of content creators was much smaller, at just 1 percent. One percent is a very small part of the community, and yet this disproportionate number was creating most of the value for the entire community. Our thesis is that these One Percenters are businesses' most die-hard customers who love the company, buy new products as soon as they released, give them as gifts, and evangelize the company to everyone they know.

Q. How can brands identify and connect with their One Percenters on social channels?

A. Certainly having the usual array of social properties - Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. -- for all customers to connect with you on is a good idea. For One Percenters, though, it might be worth taking a page out of the Lady Gaga Playbook. Gaga has created her own social network for her One Percenters called Littlemonsters.com. The site looks like a cross between Pinterest and Reddit, with a scrolling wall of Gaga fan art and photos submitted by the Little Monsters. Fans can set up profiles, message each other and find links to concert dates. They even get their own Littlemonsters.com e-mail address, linking their online identity to Gaga. The pop star is on the site weekly, posting special messages to fans, "liking" and commenting on their fan art, and participating in chat discussions. Let the die-hard One Percenters identify themselves by giving them a special community to join.

Q. Are there any celebrities or brands that you would consider yourself among their "One Percenters"? 

A. I am a Pittsburgh Steelers One Percenter. I was born near Pittsburgh and watched them win 4 four Super Bowls as I was growing up in the '70's. I run the Steelers fan club here in Austin. I own six Terrible Towels and went to the Super Bowl in 2011 to see the Steelers play. When I was considering getting a tattoo -- almost all Austin, Texas residents have one -- I knew getting the Steelers logo was a safe bet because I knew I would love them for life. (You can see my tattoo here.)

Q. Another loyalty lesson that you cover in the book is about building community. Which brands are doing a great job at that today? 

A. The MINI car brand, owned by BMW, is a great example of a how to build community among One Percenters. MINI believes that the secret to selling more cars is to engage the existing MINI community rather than to target people who currently don't own MINIs. They believe that if they can get current owners more excited about the brand, they will sell more cars to them. And the owners will sell more cars to new customers through word of mouth. That's why they hold annual events to bring the community of One Percenters together. For the past four years, the company has held an annual event called MINI Takes the States, an eleven-day cross-country trek where MINI owners meet up for food and music. It's a kind of tribal get together and show off our MINIs event. In 2012, approximately six thousand people signed up to participate in at least one of the eighty-eight events on the trek, while up to three hundred cars could be spotted on one stretch of road. From New York to Los Angeles, the route wound through sixteen states with stops in thirteen cities and covered at least 3,877 miles. Some eighty-nine people drove the whole thing.  

Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga turns Followers into Fanatics will be available May 2. If you live in the Austin area and would like to celebrate all things Lady Gaga, including the book release and a special Gaga-themed performance, come to the Monster Loyalty Ball on Wednesday, May 1st. We are excited to help Jackie celebrate her new book and support a charity of her choice at the event.

cdoman@spredfast.com's picture

Courtney Doman

Courtney is the Content Marketing Manager at Spredfast. She focuses on sharing smart social ideas and insights to transform the way companies connect with consumers. Courtney is a passionate football fan (supporting Arsenal and the USMNT), curious traveller, and ambitious home cook.