As her new video Telephone’s success suggests- over 7 million views in 3 days.  A week later, a Google search for telephone shows the 375+ articles about the video before even a description of the communications device. Whether one loves her or hates her, they have to admit, she gets attention. If there is someone out there who shows the potential of the union of social media and celebrity, it is Lady Gaga.
She is the steward of her own social media destiny, retaining control of her image and her communications with her audience directly.  Perhaps because she came to fame “the old fashioned way” instead of through the springboards of American Idol or The Disney Channel she is a rarity among pop stars one that had to manage her own fan list from day one and probably once sent out her own monthly newsletter.
Today, Lady Gaga has over 5 million Facebook friends, over 3 million followers on Twitter.  She personally posts daily to both pages- even from backstage at concerts- and generally sticks to topics she knows best, her music and tours:
“I swear tonight didn’t feel like an arena. It felt like 15,000 sweaty KIDS in a club in 1985. Kiwi bitchen. Sydney, are u ready?”
her clothes:
“http://twitpic.com/10vuu0 – Thank you so much to Mr. Armani for making my beautiful fashion”
but most commonly interacting with and validating her fans:
“http://twitpic.com/18eaiq – I think the Pop Universe just imploded. Completely brilliant. Whoever made this: BRAVO.”
She has made herself easy to find, and has made herself the definitive portal for all things Gaga. www.LadyGaga.com is a centerpoint for all of Gaga’s personal work: including her music videos, consumer products, philanthropic efforts and licensed promotions.  Her social media presence is an object lesson in how to keep fans interested: from direct daily interaction to linking together her far-flung fangroups. If one wants more Lady Gaga, she provides and the zealousness of her fanbase is unquestioned and active. She validates their interest by speaking directly to them and they respond in kind, finding increased connection with their idol and a community where they can easily participate and belong.
Lady Gaga seems to know that a pop star’s own life is a story they are telling, and whether a celebrity takes an active role in the telling of that story or not, the story will be told.  It seems that Lady Gaga made the choice early on to be telling her own story, by both managing her own communication with her fans and as the creative force behind her albums, concert tours, and video presence. Releasing her own Online Video series “Transmission Gagavision” she gave access to herself behind the scenes at the Haus of Gaga. According to the Gagapedia:
“Inspired by Andy Warhol’s Factory, the Haus is a collective who works on various projects for Lady Gaga. These projects include clothing, stage sets, props (Disco Stick, iPod Glasses, etc.), sounds for her live performance. In her own words: “It’s my creative team and it was really organic. I was a bit frustrated at the beginning, being so new to the business and going forward with a major label. I wanted to put my own money into the show because, when you’re a new artist, you kind of have to prove yourself. I was making money as a songwriter and I didn’t want a condo or a car because I don’t drive and I’m never … home, so I just wanted to put all my money into my performance.”
Haus of Gaga is also an iPhone app, which serves as a portal for all things Gaga, giving quick access to her social media presence, games, exclusive content downloads, videos, news, and exclusive chat with other gagaphiles.
She is an able transmedia storyteller, stewarding her personal narrative across many platforms, in non-fiction and now, embarking on an ongoing fictional narrative in her music videos. While her new music video for Telephone has gotten buzz for its risqué outfits, language, murderous exploits, symbolism, filmmaking use of homagé, and product placement, the “to be continued” at the end of the video is what those looking to emulate her success should be writing home about.
Telephone is the second part of a narrative begun with Lady Gaga’s 2009 music video, Paparazzi. In which she killed her boyfriend and went to jail, where we find her at the beginning of Telephone. Directing both videos is Swedish Director, Jonas Åkerlund, and smartly, both videos are much longer than the songs they dramatize. By creating a new fictional storyworld to play in, Lady Gaga has yet another tool in her media arsenal and by making sure that each platform iteration of her music is a significantly different package than any other, the audience isn’t getting bored, in fact, these little monsters are clawing for more.
Caitlin Burns is a Transmedia Producer at Starlight Runner Entertainment. To hear more of her thoughts on media, follow her and catch up on her other blogs through Twitter: Caitlin_Burns
Caitlin Burns
Caitlin Burns has spent a decade working with narrative intellectual property franchises, independent artists, brands and philanthropic initiatives as a transmedia producer. Developing content strategies, overseeing multiplatform story worlds and localization campaigns spanning the globe, she understands what it takes to create a success story. Her work includes projects with Starlight Runner Entertainment including Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney Fairies, and Tron Legacy for Disney, James Cameron’s Avatar for Fox, Halo for Microsoft, Happiness Factory for The Coca-Cola Company, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for Nickelodeon and Transformers for Hasbro. She has also worked with Sony, Showtime, Pepperidge Farm, Scholastic, Tribeca New Media Fund, FEMSA, Wieden+Kennedy, Reebok and Stratasys.
Caitlin Burns

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