Some are questioning what kind of message a photo, cover or image such as this is sending to young girls and women in general while others are questioning why Beyoncé is appearing on the list in the first place.
Now, I’ll leave the semantics to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to explain all of the really interesting factoids of Beyoncé with my focus on why she deserves to be on the list. Chief among them is the brand that Beyoncé has become. With the click of a finger (or in many cases a Facebook like) she has become a brand bigger than her own personality. Her business empire now spans everything from fashion to retail, electronics to advertising, movies and television thorugh to that little old industry where she got her original start – music.
There is no denying that the numbers speak for themselves. Her current net worth is estimated to be (US) $350 Million and by the end of 2014 MTV estimates that she will become the highest paid black musician in the world. At one fundraiser (organised by her team) for Barack Obamas campaign in 2012 she reportedly raised more than $4 million. Of course there are the numerous number one hits in dozens of countries and the sales of millions of albums. But then there is Beyoncé the entrepreneur and business women – and maybe that’s where we see the convergence of brand and influence? She has worked with Pepsi since 2002 and in 2012 signed a renewed deal reportedly worth $50 million.
She has released her own line of fragrances through Tommy Hilfiger and Armani. The line editions of her “Heat” product have netted more than $400 million in sales not to mention endorsements and deals with American Express, Nintendo DS and L’Oreal. Her fashion lines are estimated to generate hundreds of millions of dollars. Her product and sales reach is global.
Presidents and Prime Ministers (while often not always admitting to listening to her music) want to be seen with her for one very important reason – her influence also has a pull factor well beyond any ordinary person or campaign a political staffer may be able to dream up – and of course, that translates into votes. For example, Beyoncé Knowles has 13.3 million people around the world following her on Twitter.
Research tells us that the social impact multiplier says for every one person you are connected with in the online world through Facebook or Twitter (as examples) the reach can be extended by a factor of 4 – 6. By that I mean the number of people who follow you and repost, share, like or retweet something you have to say. If we used the equation for Beyoncé by a factor of 4 for every Twitter follower we get to a potential social media tribe of more than 50 million people for that one channel alone.
Smart campaigners and marketers know that a brand like hers translates into sales and politicians know that it has the potential to shift younger voters in key demographics.
I mean sure, politicians have the ability to slime themselves all over celebrities for two reasons: 1: they can and 2: it’s a vote winner (unless you hook your campaign wagon to Charlie Sheen in one of his low periods).
But therein lies the secret to Beyoncé. It’s not just the canny marketers and campaign managers who know and understand the influence she exudes its Beyoncé herself. She is the consummate example of what a successful entrepreneur needs to be – strategic, aware of the value and impact of brand, selecting those products and services to attach that brand to and the causes through which her social lens is seen.
But is that enough to be considered as amongst the top 100 most influential people in the world? If the only measures for consideration were pulling and pushing power the answer is yes.
The key for the evolution in Beyoncé’s career as an influencer will come not in the present but in the future and it’s kind of like that age old question of if you had super powers would you use them for good or evil?
The challenge she will undoubtedly face is less dramatic of course and that is to ensure that whatever she does with the influence she has it is to follow the same tried and tested formula she has used to date – unless of course in a fit of champagne madness she declares war on republicans, north Korea and climate change all at once.
Finally, as for the Time Cover and the people saying it’s an image that doesn’t do anything for women in general think about two things: 1: Time Magazine sales and causing a sensation around what otherwise would be a boring release of an issue and 2: in Beyoncé’s own words when interviewed by Vogue Magazine in 2013 when asked if she considered herself to be a feminist:
“That word can be very extreme….but I guess I am a modern day feminist. I do believe in equality. Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself anything? I’m just a woman and I love being woman….is do believe in equality and that we have a way to go…..”
Personally I think she is doing just fine and good on her for not holding herself back in coming forward as a business person, entrepreneur and influencer.
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