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3 Things We Learned About Social Media Marketing When Zayn left One Direction

Teenage girls collectively were weeping in anguish last week, when news of Zayn Malik leaving One Direction spread. If you live under a rock or possibly are not a teenager and have other things to read and think about, you might have missed this startling news. Here at Hootsuite, our social feeds were inundated with tales of distraught teens and rumors of who would replace him. Instead of taking compassionate leave, we instead took the opportunity to reflect. Out of the chaos and sadness we came to realize that Zayn’s departure is a great example of a few social media principles, lessons you don’t need to be in a famous boy band to take advantage of.


1. Get in front of the story

Never let anyone else control your PR moment. Be the one to make the statement and control the statement. This way regardless of what rumors grow, you had the first and last word on the matter.

In a social media context anyone has the power to spread misinformation and lies about you or your brand. By being the first to share news, you inherently become the most reputable source on the matter. As people share your announcement, other, less reliable sources will fade into the background.

2. Build a community where it’s less about you and more about the relationships between community members

One Direction has done an incredible job of building a fan base and community around them. And while, yes they are in the center, they have helped foster relationships between fans. Meaning that when news drops, the fans share between themselves and not just back to the band. If this isn’t the most perfect example of a brand ambassador program, I don’t know what is.

When Zayn left the band, One Directioners shared their crying photos and videos. While this provided a few laughs for many people, it illustrates that they felt a real connection not just with the band but with each other. It’s not like Zayn was looking at their photos. They went online to share an emotional experience with the community.

3. Teenagers are more powerful than you might think

Social media trends are driven by teens, even if we’d like to believe otherwise. On Twitter, which often is said to be targetted towards older generations and which teens supposedly don’t like anymore, they still dictate conversation. You can even look to the success of apps like Snapchat, Whisper and Yik Yak. Without teen buy in, many of those apps wouldn’t be where they are today.

Check in next week for the next edition of 3 Things We Learned from…