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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Touchpoints and One Direction

Till a few months ago, I did not know much about One Direction, besides some of the gossip UK's Daily Mail provided me with. (Yes, I love tabloids and they do not take any seriousness away from my journalism.) Now in Australia, I find them everywhere. 

You go to a mall and you can hear Harry Styles singing Story of My Life on the radio. You come across a video of two of them smoking a joint in Peru and then it's on a television news channel. They're as popular, or maybe even more, among teenage girls as Boyzone and Backstreet Boys were during my teens. You cannot miss them any more.

One Direction band members from left to right:
Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Niall Horan and Zayn Malik

So when Michael Klaehn, lecturer, Social Media Marketing at Queensland University of Technology, gave us an exercise to map the social media activities of our favourite musicians, I chose One Direction. They're not my favourite but I found them interesting. Since I did not know anything about them, I started by watching their videos of X Factor on YouTube. The five of them – Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik and Niall Horan – had auditioned individually for Britain's X Factor 2010. The judges found them to be lacking individually but then decided to try them out together as a group. They managed to harmonise well and, over a few weeks, became a national sensation of sorts even though they did not win X Factor. Simon Cowell signed them for their first record and they grew to become one of the most popular boy bands ever. Most of the videos I watched had over a million views.

What makes the band different from Boyzone or the Beatles is the immediacy with which they can connect with their audience. So a 13-year-old die-hard fan only has to log online to connect with her favourite band. Just their Facebook page has over 32 million 'likes'.

The touchpoint map
I started mapping out the various touchpoints, the interfaces between the band and their fans. Within a couple of hours, I managed to come up with over 40 of them. The ones marked in green are the traditional touchpoints that bands such as Boyzone and Beatles also had. The ones in red are social media. The blue are the remaining touchpoints in the virtual and real world. The size of the font indicates the frequency of touchpoints in a particular media.

To bridge the gap between virtual and real worlds, the band answers questions and requests posted by some of their Twitter followers during concerts much to the delight of screaming and delirious fans. No wonder they are so popular!

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