The “Holy Grail” of Facebook

Jay-Z's "Magna Carta...Holy Grail" cover art. source: Stereogum.com

Jay-Z’s “Magna Carta…Holy Grail” cover art. source: Stereogum.com

With all of the music-oriented websites and services that are constantly coming out and growing larger, artists could turn almost anywhere to premiere a new song or video. Which option will yield the best result? Hip Hop icon Jay-Z made a surprising move by opting to premiere his new “Official Visual”, aka a music video, on Facebook. At first the response may be a chuckle followed by a comment like, “The only people who use Facebook anymore are grammar-impaired teens and caps lock-loving middle aged parents.” While that sounds like a valid response, the 239,000+ “likes” on the “Holy Grail” beg to differ.

By releasing the “Holy Grail” video, featuring Justin Timberlake, exclusively on Facebook for 24 hours before anywhere else, Jay-Z becomes the first major artist to choose the world renowned social network site to make an exclusive release. Billboard addresses the bold move and says it’s just the beginning for the musical future of Facebook. The big question is, does it work?

The YouTube video boasts over five million views, and nearly 40,000 “likes”. The Facebook video, which has been out for roughly a day longer than its YouTube counterpart, has 240,000 “likes”. While the play count for Facebook video isn’t available to the public, the just-under 100,000 shares are a staggering statistic.

Suppose each share generated 10 additional views, not inconceivable for the mass reach of Facebook. The estimated view count would be one million views. That doesn’t include the views that didn’t come from it being shared. Of course, that is a very inaccurate method of estimation. I’m a journalist, not statistician. Nonetheless, the feedback generated by the Facebook video gives the exclusive release some credibility.

What is the verdict?

I think Jay-Z is a brilliant promoter. Not only did he refuse to release his video through VEVO like a majority of major label artists, but he used a less-than-stellar video interface. Facebook’s video player isn’t bad by any means, but there’s nothing special about it. There are no flashy backgrounds, sidebars or add-ons, but they may not be needed. What Facebook lacks in aesthetics it makes up for in usability. Jay-Z accomplishes the main purpose of music promotion: people are listening. What’s more is that they are talking about the video and sharing it.

Facebook is kryptonite to the quiet person. On Facebook, everyone talks. Over 14,000 comments make up the conversation on the original video posted. Another 8,000 don the YouTube video. And that is just for the two original sources of the videos. Many more views and comments have accumulated. The ongoing conversation for “Holy Grail” is pretty huge. Between Jay-Z’s 17 million fans on Facebook and Justin Timberlake’s 26 million, this video got around.

Does that mean everyone will jump on the Facebook-exclusive bandwagon? That is yet to be seen, but if “Holy Grail” is any indication, it might not be a bad idea. Sure, views can’t be as easily gauged by anyone other than admins, but there are other numbers that hold the importance. HypeBot posted an article about the release stating,

“I will try to highlight here his clever usage of numbers .. not the ones you’re now accustomed to, the ones he wants you to see.”

Whatever numbers those are, rest assured “Holy Grail” is generating them. It is about being seen and heard. And “Holy Grail” is doing a lot of both.

Thanks for reading.


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2 thoughts on “The “Holy Grail” of Facebook

  1. Decent work, but there are a number of missed opportunities for linking to immediate questions the reader is likely to have. Case in point: In the first graf, you write “Hip Hop icon Jay-Z made a surprising move by opting to premiere his new “Official Visual”, aka a music video, on Facebook.” Shouldn’t that site be linked here? If you’re talking about content, never assume we’ve all seen that content, even unto something “everybody” is talking about. Think of it this way: If I HAVE seen it, it’s easy to ignore the link, but if I HAVEN’T, it’s a pain for me to have to dig it up on my own, and you don’t want your readers thinking of you as a pain, do you?

    • I did link to the Facebook video he initially released, but I didn’t link it until the second time I mentioned it. Linking it in the first graf would have made it much easier and less confusing. I definitely want to avoid being a pain! Thanks for the feedback.

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