K-pop, or Korean pop, has been around for a long time, but for many, it was simply just another niche genre. Things took a turn for the better in recent years when more and more K-pop bands started to rise up. One of which, was popular band BTS, which translates to “Bulletproof Boys Scouts”, who took the world by storm – breaking into international markets and becoming one of the most successful boy bands in the world.
If you haven’t scrubbed up on your BTS knowledge by now, you probably should. To list the litany of accolades the pop septet has achieved would take quite a while, so let’s just consider 2020’s accomplishments alone: The first Korean act to land at No.1 on the Billboard charts with Dynamite; the first act in history to debut a non-English language song at the No.1 spot with Life Goes On; the first Korean group to ever receive a Grammy nomination for best pop/duo group; and the first band in history to debut a song and album at No.1 in the same week.
Not only is BTS breaking records, but the band has also been raising new standards in terms of sales and revenues.
The Hyundai Research Institute estimated that the ripple effects from the BTS ecosystem contribute a staggering US$3.54 billion annually to South Korea’s gross domestic product. That puts the seven-member boy band’s contribution almost on par with Korean Air.
It’s no surprise that many have scrambled to find out what the key to BTS’ success is. Well, it is no secret the formula for the group’s meteoric rise is largely attributed to its talented songwriting, brotherly group dynamics and impressive stage performances. However, its use of social media and its well-crafted marketing strategy are also key success contributors that cannot be overlooked. Taking a look at BTS’ example, brands have much to glean and learn from.
1. Build a strong social media presence
In a digitalised and tech-savvy age where information can be accessed through our fingertips, it is no surprise companies have turned to social media to grow their businesses. BTS is no exception. Even before its debut in 2013, Big Hit Entertainment recognised the value of social media and had already started to build a strong social media presence for the band.
The members regularly upload content such as blogs, selfies, covers, and more, onto various social media platforms, including Twitter, Weibo, Fancafe, and so on. Its Twitter account, which has 31.3 million followers, is surprisingly candid, with unedited selfies of the members and even one tweet featuring a video of one of the members cutting his own bangs. Such raw content helps the band to come off as more authentic and personable.
2. Connect and communicate with your customers/fans
Of course, BTS’ success could not have been possible without the support of its massive fan base – also known as the ARMY. Like its name suggests, it is an incredibly loyal and fervent fan base made up of millions of followers – a base so powerful they have often been heralded as the major driving force behind BTS’ success, having helped the group smash many music industry records.
Music aside, they have also banded together for good causes such as raising money and planting trees. For instance, following the group’s $1 million donation to Black Lives Matter, the ARMY began trending #MatchAMillion on Twitter, imploring fans to donate what they could to the cause as well. Within 24 hours, more than 34,500 fans came together to raise over $1.14 million. In many ways, BTS has done a great job in learning about what matters to its fans, and now, what matters to it matters to its fans as well.
You do not have to create monikers for your customer base like what BTS has done, but it would be a good idea to get to know more about your followers in the social media communities that you are building. Think about how you can add value to them and make them feel a sense of community and belonging.
One way you can do this is by sharing exclusive insights or gifts that are only made available to them. Another way is to celebrate your special milestones with them. Third, constantly engage with them – listen to what they want, what they are saying, and respond to their comments, requests and feedback. Building a strong relationship with customers is crucial to any brand’s success.
Beyond ticket sales, music downloads and merchandise, BTS is also great with collaborations with other artists and brands. Just to name a few A-list artists – The Chainsmokers, Halsey and Nicki Minaj, along with some brands such as Casetify, Converse, Puma, Coca-Cola, and the list goes on.
Taking notes from such collaborations, strategic partnerships with influencers or other brands that have a loyal fan base can do wonders for a brand. Collaborations can add great value when the strategic and creative is aligned. Both brands can benefit from growth, costs reduction and a greater reach. Non competing brands working together have great potential for rapid audience expansion as brands can introduce their customers to their partners or collaborators.
Now that you know some of the bulletproof marketing secrets that have helped propel K-Pop group BTS to the forefront of the music industry, are you ready to take your brand forward?
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