Who needs million dollar marketing plans? Korean K-Pop band BTS just shot to the top through the power of social media alone.
BTS won the Top Social Band award at the BBMAs (the Billboard Music Awards) this weekend.
Compared to the competition – BTS was up against Bieber, Selena Gomez and Ariana Grande – they’re relatively unknown in the States. But the seven member boy band has a pretty devoted army of fans (they’re literally called the ARMY).
BTS was invited to the fancy awards ceremony after a massive social media campaign. Fans voted more than 300 million times on Twitter to get the boys to the show, using the hashtag #BTSBBMAS.
They just finished a sold-out five-date arena tour of the US, and are the first K-pop band to break into the Billboard 200 Album charts, so they’re a pretty big deal.
So why so popular? One K-pop expert told CNN that it’s because their social followers all over the world feel connected to the stars. "International fans were able to really relate to them and feel like they truly knew the members individually. Most rookie groups are held tightly behind closed doors and everything is filtered or sanitized before it's shown to the public."
Experimenting with different ways of creating demand around a new release is nothing new in music. In the run up to the release of Bieber's single 'What Do You Mean', for example, he launched a major campaign which included getting a different celebrity to tweet about the album every day.
It doesn't always go well though –remember U2’s (pretty ill-fated) stunt with Apple? The band’s new album magically appeared on iTunes users' phones (thanks Apple, just what we’ve always wanted). The stunt reportedly cost $100 million and was called a "dismal failure" – v. expensive ouch.
If you have to take one lesson from the whole BTS thing it's this: You can have celebrity backers, or millions of dollars, but sometimes a devoted fan base with access to Twitter can be the most valuable thing of all.
Kpop has finally arrived in the US – and ARMY, it’s all down to you.