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What brands and BTS can teach you about partnerships and social media marketing

Shruti Ramanujam

At Unmetric, we do something called the #UnmetricBrandStars on Twitter and Facebook. Each day, we trawl through brand posts and feature the most engaging post by a brand on our social handles. We believe it will provide other brands inspiration for their own creative briefs and campaigns.

While these posts are well-received on Facebook, only a small number of people engage on Twitter. On a good day, the interactions are usually from the brand that’s been declared a star and a few other interested people, brands, and agencies.

A few days back, our social media manager chose Mattel, a US-based toy manufacturing company, as the Brand Star of the day for their tweet on BTS-based dolls. It was like any other day, or so we thought.

But this was the response to the tweet. Over 5K interactions at the time of writing this article.

The BTS ARMY (Adorable Representative MC for Youth) came strong and quick and gave #UnmetricBrandStars the highest number of interactions it’s seen on Twitter.

This created a lot of questions for us.

  • Why is BTS so famous?
  • Why are brands suddenly partnering with a K-pop band?
  • Why are their fans—the self-proclaimed BTS Army—so loyal?

With Blood Sweat & Tears playing in the background, we started digging around for all the answers.

The rise of BTS

With PSY’s Gangnam Style going viral in 2012, global interest in K-pop started rising steadily. Formed in 2013, the Bangtan Boys (BTS) scratched the K-pop itch that the global audience was developing. But their rise was still moderate. Other fandoms like the Beliebers, Swifties, and Beyhive were still the biggest in the global music scene. But in 2017, things changed. BTS was suddenly at the forefront.

Where did this change come from?

I—along with many others—believe that One Direction’s hiatus in 2016 created a vacuum in the boyband scene that BTS quickly occupied. Winning the Top Social Artist Award was the cherry on top which gave them international recognition. With foot-tapping numbers that contained strong social messages, these boys redefined K-pop for its fans.

BTS’ loyal fanbase—the army

Musicians and boy bands always have a group of loyal fans, but no group seems as strong as the BTS Army. BTS also helps this along by using social extensively. They have their finger on the pulse of fans and follow a data-driven approach to social.

They have dedicated Twitter handles just for social. BTS on Billboard is a handle dedicated entirely to getting BTS songs on Billboard charts. To win the Top Social Artist Award in 2017, fans had to vote for BTS by using the hashtag #BTSBBMMAs. To encourage fans to vote on this and other hashtag-driven voting awards, there’s an entire Twitter handle—BTS Voting Team.

A lot of the BTS team’s efforts involve engaging with fans on social media and encouraging them to help BTS beat records on streaming services.

https://twitter.com/btsvotingteam/status/1111935611697422337

And this fan-based marketing has paid off quite well for the band and the team, for their loyal fans also serve as brand advocates—their fans have gone as far as to sponsor billboards in Times Square for BTS.

Brands’ strategic partnerships with BTS

Brands have clearly understood the general public’s love for BTS and partner with them often for campaigns.

Some of the popular partnerships are:

Puma

BTS is the official global ambassador for Puma. After their collaboration with Puma on the Puma x BTS Court Star, they made things official by becoming the brand’s ambassadors in 2018. After becoming ambassadors, they released yet another line, this time, the BTS version of Puma’s famous Basket Shoes. Their post on Instagram about these shoes was Puma’s most engaging post in 2018.

View this post on Instagram

PUMA BASKET PATENT WORN BY BTS & YOU.

A post shared by PUMA (@puma) on

Converse

Converse Korea, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong released a new line of Chuck Taylor All Stars adorned with BT21 characters, BTS’ cartoon avatars. Just the announcement video put up by Converse Korea on Instagram received 52K views.

View this post on Instagram

⠀⠀⠀ Converse x BT21 Collection ⠀⠀⠀ IMAGINATION COMES TO LIFE ⠀⠀⠀ 7월 27일, 전세계 밀레니얼들의 마음을 사로잡은 우주스타 #BT21 과 스트릿 문화의 아이콘 컨버스가 만나 특별한 콜라보레이션을 선보입니다. ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀ 글로벌 밀레니얼 인기 캐릭터 BT21은 라인프렌즈와 BTS의 콜라보레이션으로 탄생한 캐릭터 브랜드입니다. ⠀⠀⠀ 🔍 발매 정보 – 컨버스 x BT21 척테일러 올스타 로우 95,000원 – 컨버스 x BT21 척테일러 올스타 하이 99,000원 – 사이즈 (220~250) ⠀⠀⠀ – 컨버스 명동역점, 코엑스점 – 컨버스 공식 온라인스토어 https://www.converse.co.kr – 라인프렌즈 스토어 이태원, 명동역, 가로수길, L7홍대점 – BT21 스마트스토어 https://smartstore.naver.com/linefriendsbt21 ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀ #Converse #컨버스 #ConverseXBT21

A post shared by CONVERSE KOREA (@converse_kr) on

Coca-Cola

This soft drink brand partnered with BTS for a number of campaigns in 2018, resulting in high engagement numbers. They released special edition cans with pictures of BTS members on the packaging, had BTS lead their campaign for the FIFA World Cup 2018, and had them star in their summer ad alongside Park Bo Gum, a Korean actor.

Their video of Park Bo Gum introducing BTS-themed Coca Cola cans garnered over 69K interactions.

VT Cosmetics

The Bangtan boys are famous for their makeup and skincare routines, so it’s no wonder that they teamed up with Korean beauty brand VT Cosmetics to release a makeup line designed around BT21.

View this post on Instagram

– #BT21_VT Lip Makeup💄 It's so pretty no matter how you put it on Graduation or Full lip!💕 Bright and vivid colors make your lips attractive!😘 – Bright color and soft texture LIPPIE_STICK Dramatic adhesion and long persistence CREAM_LIP_LACQUER Moisturizing! Tangle! Volumeful lips GLOW_LIP_LACQUER 👉🏻You can buy online mall right now! – BT21_VT 립 메이크업 라인💄 그라데이션? 풀 립? 어떻게 발라도 예쁨 폭발💕 생기 발랄 선명한 컬러로 매력적인 입술 완성😘 – 선명한 발색과 부드러운 텍스처 #리피스틱 드라마틱한 밀착력과 지속력 #크림립라커 촉촉! 탱글! 볼륨감 있는 입술 #글로우립라커

A post shared by 브이티 코스메틱 VT COSMETICS OFFICIAL (@vtcosmetics_official) on

This post was the most engaging of all of VT Cosmetics’ posts in 2018. In fact, the top 17 most engaging posts of this brand in 2018 were all about BTS.

Hyundai

BTS was named the global brand ambassador for Hyundai’s new SUV, Hyundai Palisade. Using BTS as their brand ambassadors not only helped Hyundai ride the popularity wave but also market the Palisade’s spacious interior, capable of seating the entire band.

The announcement of BTS as global brand ambassadors fetched Hyundai 1.7X more engagement than its 2018 average.

Visit Seoul

They may be international superstars but the members of BTS never forget their home country South Korea. As honorary tourism ambassadors of Seoul, they participated in the “Live Seoul Like I Do” campaign, where each artist of BTS shows their favorite parts of the city and centers them with a playlist.

With over 814K views, this video ended up in Visit Seoul’s top 5 most viewed videos of 2018.

 

Strategic partnerships with celebrities that have a loyal fanbase can do wonders for a brand. Both BTS themselves and the brands they’ve partnered with are great examples of social media marketing done well and we can all stand to learn from them.

Methodology

#UnmetricBrandStars are identified using Unmetric Analyze, an AI-powered social media intelligence platform. Analyze helps you discover industry leaders, compare the performance of various profiles, identify promoted posts, and do so much more.