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By Gemma JoyceDec 5th
Published September 5th 2016
Beyoncé’s popularity needs no introduction.
Born in 1981, the performer, business woman, and all-round legend has built a wildly devoted fan community that continues to grow. Also known as the “Beyhive”, her fandom goes way beyond screaming attendees at her sell out shows, and many young fans will have most of their communal Beyoncé experiences online.
There are innumerable pages, forums and platforms dedicated to the star, which we explored to some extent in our list of the 15 most influential Beyoncé fans on Twitter. With increasing press focus on the lively Beyhive (following the huge drama inspired by Beyoncé’s latest visual album Lemonade) the Brandwatch React team wanted to chat to the people behind the headlines who influence swathes of online fans.
Beyoncé fan account @Bey_Legion boasts an impressive following of nearly 150k on Twitter at the time of writing.
— BEYONCÉ LEGION (@Bey_Legion) August 29, 2016
While the team preferred to remain anonymous, we managed to speak to the founder, who we’ll call “M”, about the challenges that come with building and maintaining a community around Beyoncé.
There’s a lot more love than hate, says M. “I don’t think we’re as bad as the media likes to make us seem, honestly. Some fans get a little too excited or a little too upset sometimes, sure, but generally we mean well,” he says of the recent drama. “Bey changed our lives through her music and her performances in a way that no other artist ever could. So we feel like we owe it to her to defend her and let her know that we’ll continue to ride hard for her no matter what.”
But how does a fan account establish themselves in such a fierce environment?
@Bey_Legion originated as a Tumblr blog under a different name in 2011, run by M and powered purely out of love for Beyoncé. In 2012 he created the Twitter account before launching their first website in 2013 – a few days before Beyoncé’s Super Bowl halftime performance.
Amid all the conversation, @Bey_Legion made their voices heard. “We were still starting as a website and we were trying to get the word out and let more people know about us, so it gave us a much-needed boost,” says M, who emphasizes that it was their exclusive content that helped them gain success amid the noise.
In the beginning, M managed all aspects of @Bey_Legion. The page grew in popularity quicker than expected and as the workload became overwhelming he reached out for new members to join the emerging Beyhive hub.
As it now stands, the page is run by a small group of males in their early 20’s who work voluntarily on the Queen B worshipping project. The guys work collectively to keep the page alive from across the globe, with admins residing in Europe, the US and Middle East.
He manages the fan page with the utmost consideration for standardisation, formatting and presentation. Training is given to new admins to ensure everyone is initiated into the high style, tone and content standards. Listing some of the nitty-gritty elements he considers as essential, it’s clear that it’s a well thought out operation. M admits he’s a keen reader of digital strategy material and runs a tight ship.
The team is highly organized and completely submerged in Beyoncé news, keeping up to date through press releases, Google alerts and Tweetdeck. Images are stored in Beyoncé Contour – a photo archive built by @Bey_Legion and dedicated to the performer.
M and his team carefully strategize their social media approach, analysing the types of content that perform best to further understand what makes their audience tick. Their analysis confirms the most engaging content tends to be visual and that the fandom is much more active when Beyoncé isn’t on hiatus. She’s the queen of generating hype and @Bey_Legion has royal talent when it comes to capitalizing on it.
The reliable news dished out by the page has also worked well in securing loyalty and excitement among the community, bringing in more followers in turn. Integrity is important to M, and he is very clear about the nature of their posts “We never post rumors of any kind, only confirmed news.”
Running a fansite for an artist as big as Beyoncé presents its own challenges. M admits the difficulties in finding the right balance between managing the expanding project alongside a busy personal life.
“People hear “fan site” or “fan account” and they think of how anyone can easily do it, while, in reality, it’s far from being easy. It’s pretty time consuming and a lot of effort is put into it.”
It’s clear these guys are more than dedicated to the cause. Their passion is key when dealing with online hate, with M professing his appreciation of the ‘block button’ before moving back to the positivity of the remaining community of supporters.
It’s not easy for any newbie to establish themselves in such a fierce environment. It is no surprise that @Bey_Legion found it tough starting out. With doubts from rival fan sites, the team fought hard for a respectable position and are now at peace with similar pages.
In a competitive environment it’s easy for related pages to feel intimidated by @Bey_Legion, however M has no hard feelings and just wants to keep on spreading the light of Bey.
After five years, M is still striving for a bigger community.
“We hope that what we post keeps on bringing in more and more new fans to join our BeyHive. We hope that our content helps them realize how much of an amazing, incredible, inspirational, hard-working, out-of-this-world-talented as an artist and a performer Beyoncé really is.”
Part of this forward-thinking approach is evidenced with the ongoing updating of the website, which has been undergoing a revamp to include new projects and sections.
What started out as a Tumblr page is now a global team operating multi-channel marketing across Twitter, Youtube, Facebook and Instagram channels. With an in-depth understanding of exactly what their followers want, the team are constantly delivering posts that get huge engagement and continue to grow quickly.
Working on @Bey_Legion is clearly rewarding for M. “Seeing that a lot of celebrity accounts, new or otherwise, have started following our same format and keep asking us for tips and advice has definitely been assuring that we’re doing a good job.”
Although Beyoncé has never directly interacted with the site or account, five years of dedicated legion work has built the page a good relationship with Beyoncé’s team.
They’ve even had multiple fan projects appear on Beyonce.com.
Their birthday video for the star was acknowledged by her team who gave special permission for instrumental versions of her songs to be used.
M concludes with the highlights of his team’s work: Featuring on Beyoncé’s official website and meeting new people from all over the world that share the same love and appreciation for Beyoncé.
His advice for new accounts?
“I would say focus on your work and your work only. Just keep going. You will get hate, and mistakes will occur. Don’t sweat it out much. Just learn from your mistakes and keep doing what you do.”
The team is now working hard on their website re-launch as well as promoting their exciting project for Beyoncé’s 35th birthday.
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