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Lady Gaga's Plan to Help Your Brand
By: Maryann Fabian
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What do Lady Gaga, The Bible, Nike, and Coca-Cola have in common? You can insert your own punchline, but guess who’s laughing all the way to the bank? It involves big ambition, some start-up funds, the need for the ultimate in creative control, and some talented techies.

After Gaga amassed almost 40 million followers on Twitter and 58.7 million on Facebook, her management searched for a way to harness the huge online community. That’s when her manager, Troy Carter, had a great idea: Why not just build our own? So he put together a tech team with some impressive credentials (ex-Google and Facebook) and started Backplane. In July 2012, they launched Gaga’s very own social network for her fans, also known as Little Monsters. And, like Gaga, Backplane has plans to rule the world, but mainly to use the same technology to help other brands.

As it says on Backplane’s website, “Current online communities are broken.” Last week, Gaga called out the social media giants for not removing cyber bullies. “You go on the Internet and especially Twitter and the things I see really shock me. The only people who can control it are the companies that run these sites, and they’re putting money into the promotion of the site… not into monitoring, “ she said.

Backplane CEO Matt Michelson calls its social community “a walled garden” for fans to share and bond over their common interests without fear of ridicule. He also said in an interview with VentureBeat that Facebook and Twitter just don’t offer the level of engagement that brands want. “We’ve used the Little Monster community to hone our skills and perfect our product, to learn about user behavior, the psychology and sociology of the community, and how to manage super fans. Every brand, celebrity, politican and organization I’ve talked to faces the challenge of creating an online community that they own.”

So far, Backplane has launched networks for Guns n’ Roses, Red Bull, The Bible mini-series, Conde Nast, Major League Baseball, Nelson Mandela, and Kanye West. Partnerships are currently underway with Cirque du Soleil and Nike. Not to mention that Coca-Cola is one of their biggest backers. “Coca-Cola is a 125-year-old brand and we have to protect that,” Michelson said.

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About the Author
Maryann Fabian is a copywriter who has crafted the voice of some of this country's best brands.
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