Beyoncé Breaks the Internet … Again

Beyonce Knowles
Singer Beyoncé Knowles at the halftime performance for Super Bowl 50. (COURTESY: The Associated Press)

On Feb. 6, Beyoncé released the song and video to her latest song, “Formation,” on Feb. 6. The song and video featured several provocative images: A post-Hurricane Katrina setting, a black American boy dancing in front of armed police officers and the words “Stop shooting us (in reference to high-profile shootings involving black males by the police):”

(SOURCE: YouTube)

On Feb. 7, Beyoncé followed up by performing “Formation” during halftime of Super Bowl 50:

(SOURCE: YouTube)

And just before her Super Bowl performance, Beyoncé completed her marketing hat trick by announcing she will be starting a new world tour, starting April 27 in Miami.

Of course, this is not the first time Beyoncé has broken the Internet by marketing through emerging media. In 2013, Beyoncé released her self-titled album by posting an Instagram video with the caption “Surprise!” announcing a new “visual” album featuring 14 songs and 17 videos (Marechal, para. 2).

This is a promotional picture from "Beyoncé," the fifth solo album from the singer Beyoncé.
This is a promotional picture from “Beyoncé,” the fifth solo album from the singer Beyoncé. (COURTESY: Columbia Records)

Social platforms frantically propelled the promotion from viral buzz; according to data provided by Twitter, the release generated over 1.2 million tweets in 12 hours and mentions of Beyoncé spiked by 500,000 tweets in 24 hours. (Lipshutz, para. 2). The album, released digitally to the iTunes Store without prior announcement or promotion, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Beyoncé sold more than 600,000 copies in the United States in three days, making it the fastest-selling album in the history of the iTunes Store.

From a marketing standpoint, Beyoncé is using social media as an influential way to reach audiences. The release of new content to fans and the general public comes across as a “direct gift” without any commercial mediation. The strategy involves strong online customer engagement, a large fan base to promote content freely and a strong emphasis on word of mouth. By relying on her considerable following, Beyoncé demonstrated the power of emerging media as a potent marketing tool.

Beyoncé (2016, Feb. 6). Formation (clean).” YouTube [Video file]. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from

Lipshutz, J. (2013, Dec. 13). “Beyoncé’s surprise album: 20 tweets from mind-blown musicians. Billboard. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from

Marechal, A..J. (2013, Dec. 13). “Beyoncé discreetly releases album, breaks the Internet.” Variety. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from

Melina & Friends (2016, Feb. 7). “Beyoncé & Bruno Mars Formation Super Bowl 2016 halftime show.”  YouTube [Video file]. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from


Race and Social Media

Many people use social media platforms such as Facebook for more than sharing personal updates. They now have become go-to outlets for news stories, particularly for younger generations. In a Media Insight polls review, 57 percent of millennials said that they get their news content from Facebook at least once per day (American Press Institute, para. 5).

However, there are differences in how groups use social networks. A 2014 Pew Research Center survey shows that Instagram is a more popular platform for Latino and black users while Pinterest is more popular among white users:

Latino use of social media

Moreover, another study by the Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor shows similar results. According to the survey, 60 percent of people on social media platforms share information about a local event or issue. However, the study showed that white respondents were more likely to post about events or entertainment while black users were most likely to share information about education or schools while Hispanic respondents were most likely to share news about crime or public safety (Zhou, para. 6).

As marketers, it is important to know how social media plays a big role in how groups learn about the world. Reading content is not a passive or random choice, and understanding where and how groups make decisions on content depends on which social media platforms that members of groups consider to be reliable. Marketers need to take conscious steps in making sure they create content where minority groups play an active part in participating in the engagement process.

Because while social media may not always facilitate conversation, it does play a factor in how that conversation starts.


American Press Institute (2015, Aug. 21). “Race, ethnicity and the use of social media for news.” Retrieved January 24, 2016, from

Krogstad, J. (2015, Feb. 3). “Social media preferences vary by race and ethnicity.” Pew Research Center. Retrieved January 24, 2016 from

Zhou, L. (2015, Oct. 5). “How race influences social media sharing.” Atlantic. Retrieved January 24, 2016, from