What A Sixth Grader, #GreysonChance, Teaches Us About Social Media

FOLLOW UP: 6th grader's performance of  Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" beats Lady Gaga's [26,615,294 views vs. 24,758,200]

UPDATE: 6th grader's talent show performance of "Paparazzi" is on course to hit more views, over 21 million, on YouTube, than Lady Gaga's!

In a matter of days, a sixth grader from Oklahoma, twelve-year-old Greyson Chance, has become a YouTube sensation, garnering over 15 million views, an appearance on the Ellen show, and a recording contract.  In the process, this kid from Oklahoma has given a few lessons for students of  social media:

1.  Find and learn from a model of success.  Greyson chose for his inspiration Lady Gaga.  Not a bad choice considering the fact that she is the first entertainer to achieve one billion views on YouTube.

2.  Find your voice and sing.  Greyson Chance has never had a voice lesson, yet he has a voice that has propelled him to stardom.  What made all the difference in the world was his decision to sing. 

3.  Share your passion.  Ah...just watch the video that follows.

4.  Be authentic.  Be yourself.  Chance chose to sing an extremely popular song from an extremely popular singer.  Yet, he made the song his own.  His version of "Paparazzi" is not an imitation of the original: it is an original, new version of the original.

5.  Don't give in to skeptics: convert them.  As Greyson began his performance at  his sixth-grade talent show, the expressions of his classmates seemed to convey disinterest at best: his performance visibly transformed skeptics into fans.

6.  Content is still king.  All the search engine optimization in the world still has a tough time trumping raw talent.  Content, really good content, whether it's a song or story, is still the best way to be found.

7.  With compelling content, video is a viral rocket.  YouTube is celebrating its fifth-year anniversary with two billion daily views.  Twelve-year old Greyson Chance is one if its users who decided to upload a video from his sixth-grade talent show.  15-million views later, the video shows no signs of slowing down in its viral trajectory.

8.  Give your friends more than one forum to connect.  Greyson first uploaded the video of his performance to his Facebook page, then to YouTube.  He has since added a Twitter account.  

Greyson Chance's 6th Grade Talent Show Performance

So what do you think?  And please join me on Twitter:  @GlenGilmore


Teri said...

Great post- saw the video & Ellen's interview- enjoyed your perspective. thx

gautam hans said...

I think the boy didn't know he would become too famous. The points you mentioned were the reasons it became so popular. A lot of people elder than him can learn from this

Curtis Gale Weeks said...

#6 is probably my favorite.

Two things:

A) His first name is Greyson. It's Greyson Michael Chance.

B) ACTUALLY, Lady Gaga had already arranged/performed/recorded an acoustic, stripped down version of Paparazzi -- which is very much like Greyson's. He probably built his performance based on that version of the song. However, I still give him props for making it a "guy" song -- and truth be told, I think it works better as a guy song sense young men DO behave like Paparazzi when they are chasing young women. Plus I give him major props just for his singing and piano playing (they may not be perfect, separately considered, but content and passion are added to the mix, making a very good whole.)

Erich said...

This looks more like a story of old media than new media. Or, at least, the meeting of the two. The Greyson Chance video sat on YouTube largely unwatched for almost two weeks. Then it was announced that he'd be on Ellen and all sorts of traditional news sources from FOX and CBS to the Wall Street Journal and L.A. Times hyped the upcoming appearance and linked to the video. Then, it gained traction. What we're witnessing here is the old style of publicist learning how to create a sensation online. It's manufactured viral pr.

Curtis Gale Weeks said...


The video began to go viral before Ellen invited him to the show. Perez Hilton had posted a link to it. Other links began to appear on Twitter (thanks to P.H.'s post) -- that's where I first saw it, while it was only at about 200K views. I also posted it on Twitter, plus my facebook page. Then the Yahoo news page posted it front-page, and that caused the avalanche to happen. When Ellen taped his interview, the views had grown to a little over 2 million, as I think she mentions in the interview; but by the time of viewing, the next day, it had already reached about 8 million (so that jump wasn't related to Ellen.)

Of course, at some point the mainstream media latches onto the phenomenon, hypes it, and it soars even more.

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