Successful social marketing boosts global fascination for K-pop acts
The local social media market in Korea is relatively closed off from the outside world, which makes it problematic for non-Korean Internet or mobile users to search for anything related to K-pop in the English language.
It is almost impossible to search for English content on K-pop or hallyu by using local social media services, such as Cyworld, the Korean version of Facebook, or Me2day, the Korean version of Twitter.
However, in recent times Korean artists started to move away from local SNS to more open and global SNS such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. According to an expert, this tendency is causing the Korean wave to shift gear “from fad to phenomena.”
“The Internet became synonymous with going international. ‘Popularity' of a music artist is no longer measured purely by sales figures or airplay rotations but also views, tweets, and like,” said Bernie Cho, president of DFSB Kollective
, a creative content group that also distributes K-pop digitally on iTunes
“K-pop's success on social media is now translating online busyness into offline business opportunities for Korean idol acts on tours and indie acts at festivals.”
If a K-pop music video attracts more than 1 million views, for instance, it will produce “a meaningful revenue” big enough to dole out profits to members of a K-pop group, Cho said.
This phenomenon of turning online fever into offline tours is exemplified in 16-year-old guitarist Jung Sung-ha, whose YouTube videos have garnered over a million views and counting.
S.M. Entertainment was the first major entertainment agency to build a strategic partnership with YouTube and join the most-visited video site channel under the name S.M. Town in August 2006. YG Entertainment
followed suit in January 2008, and JYP Entertainment
, in December 2008.
These three major entertainment agencies went on to open other social media channels like Facebook
pages, which allowed them to interact with fans across international boundaries on a real-time basis.
Before the agencies disclose their K-pop artists' music video or music files online, they release teaser videos and photos on social media platforms in order to build up fans' excitement or maximise upcoming K-pop music.
“Several years ago when we first created our official channel on YouTube, we thought K-pop music videos would easily resonate with global fans if they had quality content. And in hindsight, our strategy worked perfectly,” said Kim Eun-a, spokesperson for S.M. She said that was when the K-pop started to make a meaningful impact on the global market.
David Cho, marketing team head of the music business division at CJ E&M
, said the key to successful K-pop social marketing is “crowdsourcing”.
“Crowdsourcing will bring about interactive communication between producers and consumers where producers can reflect the interests and ideas of the masses in their creative products,” he said.
According to a report by Park-Han-woo, associate professor in Yeungnam University
's media and communication department, it was not major broadcasters or professional agencies but amateur fans who actually helped exemplify the viral power of K-pop.
Park's report –which tracked the Twitter network of K-pop from November 1st to February 15th- showed that regions including Asia, America and Europe had their major “network hubs” for K-pop created by common Twitter users, bloggers and hallyu websites.