Beyonce And The Power Of The Moment

Micro-moments are effective for reaching fans across the mobile universe with smaller morsels of content that engage people and even influence their purchase decisions. But The Moment can stop people in their tracks and capture a most precious asset: attention.

Beyonce And The Power Of The Moment

Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar have been giving CMOs a textbook lesson on the power of The Moment.

On March 4, Lamar, arguably the hottest name in hip hop, surprised the music industry by dropping an album, “untitled unmastered,” with zero advance notice. By sneaking up on critics and listeners with a new collection of songs, he forced the industry to drop everything and pay attention, like a new Lamborghini stopping traffic on a busy expressway. Within a few weeks, “untitled unmastered” was soaring to the top of the Billboard 200 chart and getting Lamar strong buzz from publications ranging from The Guardian to Pitchfork.

In fact, Lamar was merely borrowing from the playbook of Beyoncé. Queen Bey surprise-released her self-titled album in 2013 to wild acclaim, one-upped herself by unleashing her explosive song “Formation” during a performance at Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7, and then on April 23 dropped yet another surprise release with her new album, “Lemonade,” coordinated with an HBO special that evening. The “Formation” moment created so much attention that she was out-trending Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump for a few weeks after Super Bowl 50. Shortly after she performed the song, tickets went on sale for her Formation World Tour. The tour has been selling out well in advance of its official April 27 start, and her name is exploding all over social and mainstream media thanks to a well-timed moment to serve up some Lemonade.

At first glance, creating The Moment—an all-powerful, attention-grabbing action designed to captivate an audience—runs counter to the current marketing trend of engaging customers through smaller “micro-moments.” Forrester Research and Google suggest that the future of branding involves serving up small-ball content, such as online ads and mobile wallet offers, that engage people when they are on their mobile phones researching products to buy.

But micro-moments are not the end-all-be-all. As Lamar and, especially, Beyoncé show, there is still plenty of room for creating spectacular mega-moments that act like sirens, broadcasting with urgency to pull us into their orbits. Beyoncé’s “Formation” moment was especially powerful because its celebration of black womanhood struck some as being an anti-police statement. Well, controversy creates conversation, and conversation creates curiosity.

Beyoncé and Lamar are not the only ones creating moments. Samsung has an uncanny knack for creating great content-driven moments that earn our attention, including the behind-the-scenes engineering of the most popular selfie of all time, courtesy of Ellen DeGeneres and the 2014 Academy Awards. In 2015, Sony Pictures rolled out “Spectre,” the latest James Bond movie, through a combination of big moments and micro-moments. The big moments consisted of splashy trailers that in and of themselves gained millions of views and media attention. But in the run-up to the movie’s release, Sony launched a Snapchat channel that consisted of behind-the-scenes content, including photos from different movie sites. The big moments grabbed attention. The micro-moments on Snapchat kept audiences engaged.

You won’t find a magic formula for creating powerful moments, just as you can’t find a cookie-cutter approach to creating viral videos. But some general rules apply:

Your moment had better be great—not just memorable, but great: Apple, for instance, has created moments that were memorable for being great and moments that everyone remembered for bombing. For years, Steve Jobs created great moments by dazzling audiences with product releases, such as the iPhone. But in 2014, Apple embarrassed itself by announcing a giveaway of U2’s “Songs of Innocence” album, which turned out to be a gift no one wanted. The moment made Apple look completely out of touch with its customers.

Make sure your moment is sharable: The brilliance of the Samsung-Oscar selfie is that Ellen DeGeneres, collaborating with Samsung, posted the image on Twitter, which became the most retweeted tweet ever. But Samsung stumbled a bit when the company partnered with Rihanna to launch her new album, “Anti,” in 2016. Samsung and Rihanna both enjoyed considerable media attention for the innovative relationship in which Samsung purchased and distributed 1 million copies of “Anti” to its customers. But Samsung failed to capitalize on the moment. Its social spaces were curiously silent even as Rihanna was harnessing her own social networks to play up the release.

Complement big moments with micro-moments: Big moments and micro-moments are not an either-or proposition, as Sony’s release of “Spectre” illustrates. Similarly, Beyoncé complements the Moment with little micro-moments. For instance, on Instagram, she gives her fans an inside look at her life via a steady stream of visual stories, as she did during rehearsals for the Super Bowl 50 halftime show. But those micro-moments are for fans. She reserves the Moment to reach beyond her fan base.

Micro-moments are effective for reaching fans across the mobile universe with smaller morsels of content that engage people and even influence their purchase decisions. But The Moment can stop people in their tracks and capture a most precious asset: attention.