Twelve-year-old singer Shaheen Jafargholi stole the show at Michael Jackson’s memorial service in Los Angeles yesterday. The Britain’s Got Talent finalist has been playing the young Michael in the show “Thriller – Live” and was an obvious choice to perform at the ceremony. But it’s what he said that’s important for your online business.
Shaheen gave a short, personal tribute to Michael in which he thanked the iconic singer for his inspiration. Now, whatever you might think of the Jackson family or the behaviour of the star, there is little doubt that millions of people have been inspired and moved by his work over the past 40 years.
In fact, at every turn yesterday, star after star, commentator after commentator was saying that Michael Jackson will live-on in the influence he has on the musical world. Profuse praise indeed for someone who was accused more than once of paedophilia, who clearly suffered abuse and who was largely just a “product” as far as the people around him were concerned. In fact, academics at the University of Buffalo who analysed the response of the world to Jackson’s death have called the whole thing a “circus”.
Today it has emerged that the memorial service was the most watched television event of all time – yes, more than the Princess Diana funeral. And, it saw a 33% increase in normal web traffic.
Here’s what has happened over the past 40 years that led us to this situation. Michael Jackson, all those years ago was just another child performer. America had dozens of them. Gosh we’d had years of Shirley Temple by then. But the difference was that the Jackson family machine repeatedly got people to say, almost mantra-like, how marvellous young Michael was. True enough, he was talented, but central to his success was the fastidious attention to detail of his mother and father in the “work” of the Jacksons. Indeed, at the memorial service yesterday, Marlon Jackson revealed that when they boys came home from school and merely wanted to watch TV, they were hoiked out of their lounge by their mother and sent off down to the recording studio. It was all, work, work, work for these youngsters.
Apart from this constant hard work in rehearsing and recording the whole family was geared around telling the world how marvellous and brilliant Michael was. Indeed, only yesterday they were still doing it. Over the years, the brothers and other performers had become ambassadors for Michael. There was this never-ending stream of advocacy for someone who was, in essence, just a singer and dancer. True he was talented, but you can bet your last dime that there are people on stage right now who have just as much talent; they just don’t have the ambassadors.
It’s a simple business trick. You get a bunch of people to say how marvellous something is and gradually everyone and their cat, it seems, agrees. Before long the social pressure means that we all agree. Daring to suggest that Michael Jackson was not that talented would make someone an evil, uncaring, unthinking, outsider.
For your business to succeed online here’s what you need to do. Nurture a small group of advocates for your work, who become your ambassadors saying how marvellous your products and services are. Just like the Jackson family machine you need to make this a central, daily, business activity – not the occasional kind. It should be absolutely central. Grow those advocates and ambassadors, pump them, prime them and make them spread the word about your fantastic business. Before too long, their support for you will spread, virus-like, attracting immense social support, making criticism against you less likely.
It is, the celebrity technique.
Even if you use it in a small way and don’t look for mass stardom and a memorial service watched by millions, the principles of the Jackson family machine are something that are worth considering. Gain a group of central advocates for your business and support them in spreading the word.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+