Janet-Jackson queen of content



Forget for a moment her “Queen of Pop” distinction.  In the world of social media and content marketing, Janet Jackson is arguably the original “Queen of Content Marketing!”

Now, before a young’un so passionately reminds me of all the music and online content Beyonce and Rihanna have provided to fans in the last five years, allow me to remind them Janet laid the foundation and built the house Bey, RiRi, Brit and the like live in. They grew up in the digital world they didn’t make so they had to get their inspiration from someplace, or should I say someone.

Without major dance production, carefully crafted press release, nor even a real appearance before a camera, music royalty, Janet Jackson, announced a new album with just two simple, but provocative videos.  Thus, the first of many viral videos to come sans cats, babies, violence, and jackass stunts began! Yay!

Not what you’d expect from a woman crowned  “Queen of Pop”, but it does shed some insight into why Janet Jackson is the original “Queen of Content.”

Content Is Queen not Just King

She or he who rules the content, rules the current digital and social media world!  Truly, how many times have you heard, “Content is King”? And in this age of selfie-sticks, viral videos,  and disappearing “snaps”,  fans expect more than merely music from their fav artists now.

They expect online content that’s visual, easily consumable and shareable, real-time interactive experiences, and access to artists that goes way beyond the velvet rope.  That’s especially true for the millennial consumers that stay hungry for new material and experiences. And in this current business of show, it’s even more about supply and demand.

Understanding that’s the way love goes now between artists and their fans, Janet Jackson knows the unique give and take. But unlike many of her peers and wanna-be’s she never loses what it means to be a “celebrity.” She doesn’t overshare.

In fact, many people and fans alike complain she doesn’t share or engage enough. Seemingly for her, social media is more oft a tool of monitoring and broadcasting, not necessarily engagement.  But that could change!

As she said in her recent video announcement, “I’ve been listening.”  Interestingly, listening is the first rule of social media marketing and content creation.

Even as I write this blog post, her peeps have taken to her social profiles to introduce new shareable content using pics of her dancers, “the kids”. Where most would post a group shot and call it a day, this Queen of Content is introducing each dancer one by one just as she would after a show.  

What a great way to drive traffic to a website, boost SEO, and provide shareable content for her social profiles and for fans!  

But as a visual artist she’s been creating shareable content long before it was the norm, long before social media became a major “thing.”

So as a business owner, solopreneur, or up-and-coming artist what can you learn from her content strategy?  In the memorable words of Hip Hop royal, Rakim, “Peep the technique!”

Incorporate Video

Thanks in part to the world’s desire to see Janet’s—well, you know–we now have YouTube!  How apropos considering video, or better said, the music video, has been a powerful tool for Janet since she released “Control” in the 80s.

Ever seen the long form video aka film short for “Rhythm Nation?”  That was one of the first clues that we were dealing with more than just a singer, we had a content creator aka producer dancing before our eyes.

“But that was nearly 30 years ago,” you’re probably thinking. Music video budgets and the tv outlets to see them have dwindled.  Still, thanks to the internet video remains one of the most powerful tools for relaying your message to the world. Just check one of Janet’s most recent ones below.

Well executed, huh?  Simple production, simple message, massive impact! She could’ve used a tweet or an Instagram image, but a video was so much a better tactic.

Beyond the sometimes boring corporate video, how else could you better incorporate video into your content strategy to spice things up for audiences and potential customers?


In addition to good production, you must also be consistent even if only for a period of time.  Create what we call a production and editorial calendar and stick to it.  The more disciplined your are about being consistent, the more you’ll see your audience grow if you’re providing what they want.

As a business could you create a series of videos for your audience that would keep them coming back to your site or channel every week or month? Could you stick to a schedule? If so, the benefits are numerous.  If no, here’s some good news!

You nor Janet, as a business, have to rely solely on your own video creations to create great content. User-generated-content (UGC)  is in abundance on the internet and many of the creators don’t mind if you use it or alter it, especially on YouTube.  There it’s called remixing.

But while some artist like Janet inspire the creation of thousands of videos, you as a business may have to incentivize such creation through prizes, contests, and giveaways.   And through that effort you’ll discover who your brand ambassadors and influencers really are for future campaigns. Also, you’ll have accumulated a library of video testimonials, reviews, and product demos you didn’t have to create! Boom!

Crowd Source It

Only an original “Queen of Content” would be daring enough to buck the music label’s art department, and put the creation of her then upcoming “20 Y.O.” album cover in the hands of her fans–basically amateurs!

In the end, the “Design Me” campaign got fans to thinking, creating, and importantly, sharing. Talk about a win win! It generated thousands of entries, plenty of internet buzz and engagement, and 4 album covers to buy. And most of the work was done by the fans!

Janet Jackson 20 YO album covers


From a business perspective this could be risky especially when it comes to copyrighted images and fear of misrepresenting your brand. However, if you provide your audience with the parameters they can work within and some original content to use as Janet did,  you and your customers can create something beautiful together.

Technically, your internet audience is probably already using your images and others to create content about your brand or product. So be proactive instead of reactive, give audiences images to work with to create something that promotes your brand, then reward them for their creative efforts.  Make it a contest or giveaway and you’ll boost not only awareness, but also engagement and sales.

Need another example? Just look how Lays potato chips came up with new flavors.

Remember, if your audiences really likes and follows you, they generally want to play a role in your success.  So consider crowd sourcing.

Create  Visuals That Evoke Emotion

A half naked woman boldly staring you right in the eyes as a man’s hands cover her breast would get anyone’s attention.  But not only did it get our attention, it retained it!   Could that tactic work today with our ever decreasing attention spans?  Yes! If done correctly.

However, as a business or professional I wouldn’t advise baring your chest to the world.  Yes, I preach transparency, but not that much transparency!  Then again, depending on your business it might work!

What I do advise, and can’t stress enough, is that you get and/or create eye catching visuals that express your mission, idea, and/or your brand. You want images and photos that evoke a thought or emotion, or better yet, get people to take an action.

Remember, you’re in competition with everything else online vying for people’s attention.  Those images that go viral stir up emotions or hit a nerve. That’s one reason why Instagram is so popular.

Taking a page from Janet’s effective visual content strategy,  from the “Rhythm Nation” soldier to the reflective and reticent “Velvet Rope” to the Playboy-esque “All For You,” every image says something about the artist and what she was experiencing at that time.

What does your business’ social profile images really express about your company? Could it be time to leave the stock images alone?

Janet Jackson Album Covers

On a tight or non existent budget and can’t afford a graphic designer? Try animated gifs, image filters, and even some of the new and free mobile and desktop apps that can help turn your boring photos into something worth sharing. You’re only limited by your lack of creativity.  Check out my previous post for a list of those tools, The Supreme Content Creation Tool Kit

Let Audiences See Your Process

Despite so many behind the scenes videos, many still don’t know just how much work goes into what you do as a business. Document your process like Janet back in ’93 when she released the making of the “Janet” era videos. Sold separately from the album on VHS, fans were taken into dance rehearsals and on the set of each video’s production.

And remember the Myspace days—yes, I said Myspace? Janet created a video series back then that was part webisode, part reality show which showed fans a day in her busy life from the high fashion runways of Paris to sweaty dance rehearsals in Los Angeles.

For entertainers such “all access” provides content that can often be repurposed later for marketing and promotional materials.  But some limits are necessary to pique audience’s interest without killing it, especially using the current arsenal of mobile live streaming apps like Periscope.  I explain more about those in this recent post, Mobile Live Streaming For Business.

Likewise, as a business don’t share the secret herbs and spices of your operation, but sometimes allow customers to see just how much work goes into producing the product or services we enjoy.  Such transparency develops deeper trust and understanding between buyer and seller.

Would your company be willing to be that open? Just asking! Realistically, some companies just can’t be that transparent due to copyright and patents. But there are other ways to reveal a different side of your business.

Need an example? See Janet’s  “All For You” HBO special.  While audiences enjoyed a great show on stage, the magic was working backstage in her quick change. She literally pulled back the curtain to let fans see the “show” that happens between on stage performances.

Who knew velcro and powder was so crucial to a concert’s success?

The Knowledge

“Insight to what’s going on, information keeps you strong. What you don’t know can hurt you bad..,” said Janet on her 1989 “Rhythm Nation” album.  And now in 2015  it still holds true for content creation and social media marketing, especially for businesses.

Before creating a content marketing campaign, you must research your audience.  So many make the mistake of creating blogs or podcasts because they see others doing it.  But it’s not all about you, it’s about using these platforms to benefit them, your potential customers.

So get the knowledge about where they exist online, their pain points, how they consume content, and what they respond to. Then create content around the information you find.

How do you find out these things? Simple.

If you learn nothing else from the “Queen of Content’s” strategy, do more listening to your audience via social media than creating.  Yes, that can be over whelming so learn how to filter those conversations.

Surveys, polls, blog and social profile comments, keyword or phrase searches, Google alerts, and simply asking all help provide the knowledge of your audience you need.  And many of these tools are free!

Use should also be using analytical tools like those provided by Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Got budget? Use premium tools like Sysomos, Sprout Social and others.  These tools go deep in helping to gauge audience engagement and other activities.  They also help a Queen of Content gauge her ROI, that’s return on investment.

There’s a direct tie between social media and music sales when content is created and published strategically.  Trust, every call to action and link in a tweet, video, or Facebook post, is trackable.  And so should yours be!

Also, get social before your publish your content. Get yourself in the know on who your industry influencers, content partners, and ambassadors really are then establish mutually beneficial relationships with them.  They will be the ones to help your content get the reach and attention it deserves.

It takes time, but I promise it will be worth the effort.

So, is that the end? For this post? Yes!  I’d like to hear from you! Now that you’ve peeped a little of Janet Jackson, the Queen of Content’s strategy, how will you use what you’ve read to benefit your business?

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