Susan Boyle Meets the (Social) Media

by | Apr 15, 2009 | Social Media

Just minutes after West Lothian phenom Susan Boyle walked onto the stage of Britian’s Got Talent last Saturday night, even snarky Simon Cowell’s heart was melting under the brilliance of her song. So too everyone fortunate to be watching the show live across the UK.

Back in the day (i.e. around the turn of the millennium) Ms. Boyle’s first television appearance might have been the beginning and the end of her 15 minutes of fame. Never more.

Within hours, Susan Boyle’s performance was blogged, buzzed up, dugg, tweeted and you-tubed — more than 7M views so far — for all to see and hear; within a day it was in heavy rotation in the news media. Her instant visibility speaks to the reach of online social networks but beyond the technology there’s more to the story.

Of  many who’ve commented on Ms. Boyle’s come-from-behind step-out into the reality TV zeitgeist, I think Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly said it best:

In our pop-minded culture so slavishly obsessed with packaging — the right face, the right clothes, the right attitudes, the right Facebook posts — the unpackaged artistic power of the unstyled, un-hip, un-kissed Ms. Boyle let me feel, for the duration of one blazing showstopping ballad, the meaning of human grace. She pierced my defenses. She reordered the measure of beauty. And I had no idea until tears sprang how desperately I need that corrective from time to time.

UPDATE – This story has drawn more traffic than anything I’ve posted in four years of blogging — 1,157 5,820 views and climbing — and the YouTube hit counter is way north of 20M for Susan Boyle clips. Testament again to the power of organic search and the power that the universal theme of personal triumph, like those invoked by Ms. Boyle’s story, hold for us.


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