What Justin Bieber’s Seasons Taught Me About Marketing

The other day my tennis coach asked me what music I listen to. I said, “Honestly, it’s all trash. But a bit of Justin Bieber right now.”

“Me too!” he said, continuing to ask, “have you seen his Youtube series?”

Yes, I begrudgingly admitted — I have seen Justin Bieber’s Seasons.

Isn’t that amazing? Two people – one from the US, one from Poland – who would appear to only have tennis and Los Angeles in common, also have Justin Bieber’s Seasons in common?

No, I’m not talking about how undeniably cool it is that we both blast Intentions. Lolz.

I’m talking about how great it is that people have more than one interest. It’s so easy to slip into the mindset that consumers we talk to are one dimensional (they think about only our product day and night, clearly!). But in fact, just like you, they’re incredibly multi-faceted.

And share many of the same facets.

And as marketers it’s critical we keep that in mind.

Do you go home and talk to your family about the amazing software you use at work? Or go to a bar with your friends and talk about the latest dishwasher soap you’re using?

Probably not.

But you probably do talk to them about your other interests.

So, if you can figure out what the other things are that people who buy your product also all enjoy, you’ve cracked the code. Once you know those shared interests, you can engage with your customers all the time. And, in ways that are much more emotionally powerful.

What are some ways to find those shared interests you might be asking?

We’re going to make a huge list of interests. And, Google Analytics is a great place to start. Check out the Interest overview. Audience > Interests.

What categories are your customers and leads most interested in?

Take those over to Facebook, and search for Facebook pages and groups with similar interests. Like those pages and join those groups. See what other pages/groups Facebook recommends based on those, and join them.

What’s everyone talking about? Find the most common discussion points by copying and pasting as much content as you can stand to into a word cloud tool. Then, search each group for the most common words to see specifically what people are saying. Those are hot button topics you can address in your marketing!

Do you run a Facebook fanpage? Check the Audience Insights tool.

Then, check your customers’ profiles on Facebook and highly engaged leads’ to see their interests on their profiles, and see the other fan pages they like.

But don’t stop there. We’re building out a robust profile of a real person. And, real people don’t just live in Google Analytics and Facebook. (Unless they’re marketers of course.)

Search Wikipedia for your industry, product type, or a shared interest you’ve already discovered. Use the “See Also” section of Wikipedia to get more ideas about what your audience might have in common.

Google those, and look at the related questions and searches.

Keep sleuthing! Discover emerging shared interests quickly, before your competitors even. Rank the biggest brands in your industry and see the fastest growing using Social Bakers. Check out what the fastest growing brand is doing that’s making them so successful. Why are people interested?

Use Fan Page Karma to see which their Facebook posts have the most likes. Then, do the same thing for your competitors.

Now find out what gets your customers and leads really jazzed. See the most socially shared posts from any competitor using BuzzSumo.

OK, so now you have a huge list of interests from tons of places. Use the ones that popped up almost everywhere. You’re ready to market to a bunch of real humans about something they really care about – that’s not your product!

How can you use these shared interests to improve your marketing?

1. Improve your ad targeting. You can of course add these interests into your ad campaigns.

  • Check fan pages’ availability in Audience Insights.
  • See what keywords Facebook suggests, then layer those fan pages on top.
  • Sort by audience affinity (open up Audience Insights, enter an interest and a country; Click “Page Likes;” Scroll down and click “Affinity” to sort by affinity and choose those above 10x).
  • Address the specific interest in the ad copy subtly by calling it out using a non-common name. So rather than targeting Justin Bieber’s fans with “Do you love Justin Biebers?” you could say “Do you love JB/Do you love Hailey Bieber’s husband?” etc.

2. Rather than plaster your brand logo on your next swag run, get a graphic of a shared interest printed on it instead.

3. Create a podcast where you talk about the interest – the top 5 {interest} hits of the week.

4. Improve your content. Create blog post series and email newsletters based on shared interests.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. If your customers like movies, include one movie recommendation at the bottom of your emails as an easter egg each week. Just write a little blurb about it, and link out to the movie. Over time, you’ll train people to scroll to the bottom of your emails, increasing your engagement metrics. Voila!

OK but the real point of this post is: Justin Bieber’s Seasons is killing it: 9 videos and 6.1 million views and counting, within a month of launching.

And, partially as a result, Justin Bieber is on course for his seventh No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, as industry forecasters suggest his latest effort, Changes, should bow atop next week’s tally.

It’s one of the most brilliant branding exercises I’ve seen executed. It’s arguably light on hard-hitting content, while managing to have a successful impact.

So what is Seasons?

It’s a short documentary series announced by Justin on December 24, 2019, described as an “intimate, in-depth look on how Justin created his music,” including his fifth studio album Changes.

The first four episodes were released on January 27, 2020 on YouTube Premium. For users without a YouTube Premium subscription, two episodes were released per week.

This series is a clever way for Justin to tell his own story ahead of his new album, rather than it being written for him. He and his PR team certainly knew based on his previous antics that they’d need to paint him in a new light, to get fans hype enough to land his album in a prime spot.

Otherwise every media outlets would have done negative click-bait article headlines to drive more views to their own websites, as he was trying to promote his album (ex. Is Justin Finally Off the Drugs and Back On Melodies?), potentially causing even more harm to his brand.

But, now they can’t. Because we “know” he’s fine, everything is fine.

In the series he addresses his mental health and physical health issues. Partially explaining it away as a part of growing pains. He even goes so far as to bring his doctors presumably to add credibility based on expertise. Episodes five and six cover the most tumultuous period of his life and his efforts to get healthy after being diagnosed with Lyme disease and Epstein-Barr. By using specifics, he’s convinced us more.

It is also fairly engaging bottom of funnel content. The episodes portray him as incredibly hard working and a perfectionist, and expose you to clips of the upcoming songs, making you want to listen to the album even more. They also reference the making of his clothing brand a few times, and he’s seen wearing items throughout. Hello, influencer marketing 101.

A segment that stuck with me was when he records the same bar (“50-50, love the way you split it”) over and over, and says, “I can never remake this album. Once it comes out, it’s out.”

At a time when so much is done online, and as a result, able to be endlessly edited, it made me realize how much impermanence of the internet encourages imperfection.

Anyhow, the videos are short segments, ranging from 8:30 minutes to 14:50. Based on Quora answers, if you believe in crowdsourcing knowledge, it appears the trend for top performing videos in terms of views is headed towards that 10-minute mark. So these are right on the money.

Speaking of money, by choosing to partner with YouTube to launch his series, who’s trying to get their own subscription service off the ground while competing against Facebook Watch, Disney Plus, AppleTV – you name it, he was able to save some moola. Seasons cost YouTube roughly $20 million, which breaks down to $2 million per 10-minute episode. That’s right, someone else paid for his branding campaign!

And, you’ll notice each episode begins with an ad from sponsor Calvin Klein featuring none other than our favorite celeb: Justin Bieber and his wife, who’s also in. the series, Hailey Bieber. This is amazing exposure for the clothing brand, tied directly to a person and content that these viewers clearly love, a la more influencer marketing. And, of course, more money in Justin’s pocket.

Now it’s time to apply these tactics to put more money in your pocket.

Do your customers like Justin Bieber, too? Maybe it’s time you make your marketing more Yummy, bruh.

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By Megan Mitzel

I'm the wearer of overalls behind the marketing advice website Marketing Overalls. I'm also a senior marketing director with more than ten years of experience leading acquisition and lifecycle marketing at successful startups. Before that, I got a business degree at UNC-Chapel Hill. Before that, I owned a seashell shop. And that's the tea on me.