If you haven’t seen the video of Susan Boyle, contestant on “Britian’s Got Talent”, you’ve been under a rock.  47+ million hits of her audition video have been recorded on YouTube and the numbers keep climbing.  In five days, Susan Boyle has become a global brand. Eat your heart out…she’s accomplished in 5 days what multi-million dollar brands NEVER do – take the world by a storm by connecting deeply with people all over the globe.

Simply amazing.  She’s beat out Bush vs Shoes, Obama’s Victory Speech, and Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, as shown in this chart from the Mashable post about it:

Social media is the star here

I submit that social media is also a star here as well.  Think of the perfect storm of an already-viral TV show (like American Idol, Britain’s Got Talent is a phenom in terms of ratings, audience fan, branding, and more); the YouTube effect, Twitter going mainstream, Facebook (which has finally hit an international tipping point in terms of numbers) and a global consciousness that’s growing every day, especially among young people.  Oh, and don’t forget the mainstream media, who are falling all over themselves because Susan Boyle does NOT fit the “star” model they work so hard to maintain.

What a great story!  I’ve heard that people in China, Russia –  everywhere – are tuning in to watch her  video and smiling and crying and telling all their friends.

THIS is the essence of personal branding

The ability to associate feeling and emotion with a product, service, and/or personality is something corporations pay millions of dollars to achieve. Researchers spend countless hours pouring over the data to find the magic formula.  Consultants tell a new client, “I’ve got a special formula to help you break through the noise….”  Whatever.

Something that I love about this story is that, true to one of the main tenants of social media, Susan Boyle is nothing if not authentic.  This is the new currency that brands have to master. No, she doesn’t look the part, but that doesn’t matter – she’s wonderful just as she is and her singing is as natural and wonderful as she is.  People totally believe her and believe IN her.  We just met her less than a week ago and we feel like we already know her story.  The whole world is pulling for her.  You go, girlfriend!

And as Mashable points out, “meanwhile, if and when Boyle decides to jump into social media for herself, she’ll have a built in audience of millions of fans hanging on her every word. It’s a fairly incredible, albeit not completely surprising story.”   A personal branding best if there ever was one!


Beverly Macy is the Managing Partner of Y&M Partners and teaches a social media class at the UCLA Extension.  She also co-hosts Gravity Summit events.