Popular reality singing-competition show The Voice has become a sensation in America. With a format similar to the well-known American Idol, The Voice finale attracted 15.3 million viewers, beating American Idol by 1.1 million. With all of the reality competition shows currently on TV, what sets The Voice apart from its competitors?
The Voice has been extremely successful at creating a brand for each artist, supported by integration with iTunes and social media, most notably Twitter. Their successful marketing strategy shows the importance of connection between audience and competitor across multiple platforms to obtain a wide viewership and voting.
Selling a Character
First and foremost, The Voice creates a character for each competitor on the show. When artists first try out for the coaches in the blind auditions, the show delves into their backstory, which frequently involves a dramatic life event that has propelled them to this competition.
Notable backstories in the most recent season included that of Vedo, whose mother had cancer and passed away during the competition. As the show progresses, the viewer experiences more and more of the artist’s character through behind-the-scenes shoots of rehearsals, confessionals, and trips home for the final three competitors. These stories create a relatable character that the audience can root for and feel connected to.
Marketing Through iTunes
A major aspect of The Voice’s success is their strategy of marketing through iTunes. From the first episodes forward, the viewer can buy their favorite artists’ songs from the show on iTunes. Furthermore, these iTunes purchases count as votes during the competition. Not only does one iTunes purchase of that week’s song count as one vote, but also each iTunes download can propel that song into the top ten of the iTunes charts. Making it to the top ten multiplies the artists’ iTunes votes by ten.
Marketing through iTunes is significant for two reasons. First, it creates a direct point of sale between The Voice and its viewers, and the incentive of moving your favorite artist into the top ten encourages purchases. Second, The Voice uses iTunes to judge not only whether or not each artist has a superb voice, but also to assess their capability of becoming a successful recording artist who will actually sell albums.
Social Media Integration
Finally, The Voice heavily relies on social media to connect artists and coaches to viewers. Sponsored by Sprint, the show features the “Sprint Skybox,” which is run by Social Media Correspondent Christina Milian. In the Skybox, Milian chats with artists and integrates Twitter, often bringing in questions or comments from fans.
All artists and coaches have Twitter accounts, and the show maintains its own Twitter account. The show also makes use of hashtags, such as #TheVoice, #VoiceFinale, or #4eyesontheprize, a tag referring to runner-up Michelle Chamuel’s thick-framed glasses and popularized by Coach Usher. The integration with Twitter provides the sense of direct connection between loyal fans and their favorite artists as well as coaches.
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