Beyoncé revolutionized the realm of digital music in December 2013 when she dropped her self-titled album on iTunes without any warning - fans flocked to their social media profiles to discuss the songs and downloaded the hit album in droves. Recently, Grammy-winning band U2 made a similarly bold move with its latest album's release, and while the group is arguably one of the most well-known in the world, its attempt was met with a great deal of adversity from fans and smartphone users alike.
U2 partnered with tech giant Apple to provide a free copy of its latest album "Songs of Innocence" to all people who had iTunes accounts. However, instead of merely notifying people that they could download the songs for free, every Apple user received the album on his or her phone - regardless of whether they wanted it or not.
Many people were outraged by this play. Some users felt as though their privacy had been violated, while others were peeved because they simply did not want the album. Regardless of how you feel on the matter, there are many valuable lessons that small business owners can learn from U2's surprise release.
1. Success comes from knowledge
Knowing your audience is paramount to your brand's success. Instead of targeting a set demographic for its release, U2 instead set its sights on the hundreds of millions of people who have Apple accounts. While The Associated Press reported that 33 million people accessed the album, U2 may have missed a valuable marketing opportunity by neglecting to target a set group of fans, and in some cases, the band may have left a sour taste in the mouths of potential fans with this digital faux pas.
2. Take advantage of technology
Not many companies have the renowned status of U2, but that doesn't mean they can't take advantage of the latest technological advances available to them. Whether you're using the Cloud to store your digital documents or implementing devices in your operations, your company shouldn't be afraid to jump on the latest technological bandwagon.
3. Not everyone will be happy
Even if your brand was to hand out free puppies and ice cream, there would still exist a small group of individuals who would not be pleased. One of the most important rules of business is that you can't please everyone - your company should not refrain from trying for fear of failure, but you should adopt new ventures with the mindset that no matter what, some people may not be happy.
4. Don't underestimate the power of social media
Everyone from rapper Tyler the Creator to younger users who had never heard of U2 flocked to social networks after the album dropped. While some would argue that any publicity is good publicity, small business owners should recognize that a majority of the press was negative - something that could have the adverse effect your brand is looking for.
5. Offer amends to your consumers
One of the most vocal complaints from Apple users was that they not only received the album against their wishes, but they could not delete it from their phones. Instead of ignoring this concern, Apple stepped up and developed a site that allowed people to remove the songs from their devices. It's imperative to recognize shortcomings and make amends if your brand has made a move that upset consumers.