Beyonce has banned photographers from her Mrs. Carter world tour, reportedly in a move to avoid publication of any unflattering photos like the ones from her Super Bowl performance -- which went viral.
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Is this a smart strategy for the singer superstar?
“Trying to rigidly control your brand is a fool’s errand in this day and age,” says Interbrand CEO Josh Feldmeth. “The best brands in the world let people in, and that’s become the consumer or fan expectation.”
It may be especially foolish, given the fact that it’s not just pro photographers who can snap pictures at concerts. The media today is every person with a smartphone who can take pictures or record videos, says Cliff Courtney, the director of marketing for Zimmerman Advertising.
“It’s a battle you just can’t win. Beyonce’s whole camp seems pretty media-savvy, but this sounds out of touch,” says Courtney.
The image gurus say the ban also undermines the personal brand that Beyonce’s already cultivated – so it may be a doubly bad move for the singer.
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“Beyonce is accessible but also aspirational,” says Feldmeth. “What makes her great is that you could get close to her – so this is a little out of sync with that.”
The Better Way to Control Your Brand
While the marketing experts say Beyonce may have overstepped the line trying to control too much on this one, you also can’t sit back and do nothing when it comes to managing your online brand for your business.
“Trying to control your brand is futile, but you want to tell your own story the best way you possibly can. It’s only going to be one of the stories out there, but you want to tell it first,” says Landor managing director Allen Adamson.
And vigilance is key.
“How quickly you can manage the conversation is everything, or the consumer will manage it for you. It’s the old adage: A lie travels halfway around the world before the truth has time to put its pants on,” says Courtney.
Aside from constantly monitoring social media accounts, Courtney recommends services like Brandwatch, Hootsuite and Spredfast, which aim to help entrepreneurs make sense of their social media brand.
And when you get negative online feedback – or in the case of Beyonce, unflattering photos – how you handle the situation will speak volumes to your customers.
“Beyonce should have been prepared to laugh at the photos – it makes you more likable,” says Courtney. He points to the way audiences have embraced Jennifer Lawrence for making fun of herself, while hating Anne Hathaway for seeming too pretentious.
At the end of the day, when every person on the Internet is a critic, Adamson says to adopt the attitude of: “You can’t make everyone happy.”
“Ignore it if it’s not your core customer, and if it is, then you engage,” says Adamson.
For really bad feedback – be it on Twitter or on your company’s Facebook page – Courtney suggests responding with an offer to have a chat offline. “Direct message, or shoot back your email, and offer to continue the conversation,” says Courtney.
But Feldmeth has a slightly different take.
“There’s no more offline. You should never fire back, challenge or defend, but you do want to discuss, engage, welcome input and provide a very strong opinion,” says Feldmeth.