In honor of the new Amped Up Digital office inside Sound City Studios in Los Angeles, where Nirvana recorded their groundbreaking Nevermind album, and to celebrate that album’s 20th Anniversary, I asked my friend Teri Davis (a noted photographer and Foo Fighters Follower) to give me her thoughts on how Dave Grohl has been using social media to build his following post Nirvana, and what businesses can learn from a rockstar.  I hope you enjoy this guest post, and I’m throwing in one of Teri’s photos as bonus eye candy.
— Kelly

Teasing With Bread Crumbs
by Teri Davis

For the last year, I’ve been following the Foo Fighters on both Twitter and Facebook through the recording and release of their latest album “Wasting Light”. Their use of social media to market themselves has been amazingly innovative. The Foo Fighters are a very well-established and popular band, but for all of the years they have been putting out records, none of their albums have debuted at number one on the charts. Except for this one…in 12 different countries.  

The fact that the album is definitely their best yet is certainly not the only factor in play here. Even an established band usually has to have some time for word to spread. But in this case, the Foo Fighters got the word out BEFORE the product was on the shelf, and they did it with social media. 

On the day they stepped into the studio, Dave Grohl, Foo’s front man, began tweeting. He captivated the fans by the WAY he tweeted. He never said much, but it was enough to entice his audience. The first tweet I recall seeing was just the word, “Ready?” and it was accompanied by a photo of his band mates sitting around his studio with their instruments. The fan reaction set the internet buzzing. As word spread, more people started following them on Twitter and Facebook just to see what they would post next. 

As they worked on the album, Dave would tweet more of these little breadcrumb clues with photos from his iPhone; little snippets of lyrics, famous guests who’d come to work on the record, a chart on the wall where they tracked their progress, short videos of the recording process…Dave wearing silly shoes. By the time they finally announced the album’s release date, the fans were in a tizzy of anticipation, the likes of which this old rock fan has never seen.  

A week before the album was to be released, they put the whole thing up on their website. Yes, they made the entire album available to listen to online…for FREE and it STILL sold enough copies on day one to hit the top of the charts in TWELVE different countries.  

The Foo’s approach of teasing their fan base with breadcrumbs has continued as each single (and accompanying video) has been released. The most interesting example, from a marketing perspective, is how they promoted the release of the song “Walk”. Again, they used their website to release the video early to their fans with a tweeted link. But that wasn’t all, on the website version of the video, they flashed a phone number. When you called the phone number, the recorded message prompted you to leave a message saying what your favorite part of the video was. The fan messages were then streamed directly to the Foo’s website for all future visitors to see.

That in itself is pretty cool, but they didn’t stop there. About two hours after you left your phone message, they sent a text message to your cell phone with a discount code that could be used for 25% off anything in their online store. THEN, if you purchased something (which I did), two days later Dave Grohl himself called your phone! Granted, it was a recorded message, but it was so silly, fun, and unexpected that the fans went crazy for it. Word spread across the internet like wildfire. 

Now, I can hear what you’re thinking…“That’s all well and good for a rock band, but I run a B&B, a bakery, or ______. How does this help my business?” That’s exactly where I’m going here. The lesson that all businesses can learn from this strategy is to build up a tease…a sense of mystery and excitement by leaving breadcrumbs across all of your marketing platforms. A twitter post with a picture and a clue, leads to some interactive incentive on your website (register for our newsletter and get your next clue). That, in turn, could lead to a text message with a discount code for tickets to an event, or your online store. The possibilities are  endless. 

Part of what makes the approach so exciting to your audience is the interaction and the mystery…sort of a social media scavenger hunt, if you will. Another key, is to give each step some time to spread. “Did you see that weird tweet from the bakery this morning? What did it mean?” When the anticipation is at a fever pitch, you throw them the next breadcrumb. The flock (no matter how large or small) will eat it up and chatter excitedly amongst themselves to the point where, even if you give your product away for free, they’ll still buy it!

Last Note
Photo by Teri Davis. Copyright 2011, used with permission. Teri spent 7 years in Marketing and Consumer Research at Kraft Foods, and now fills her time with photography and rock ‘n roll.

Many thanks to Teri for this great article! In the posts to follow, I will be taking an in depth look at all of the steps that The Foo Fighters followed to promote their new album, and help you apply it more directly to your business.

As always, if you need any help with your digital or social media, have comments about this post, or just need to bounce ideas around, send me an email at kelly@ampedupdigital.com.