Social Media and Life Lessons from Beauty Contests

Beauty pageants are very important in Jamaica – in the Caribbean. I still think Miss World first when I hear the name Cindy Breakspeare. There are the well-loved queens who people seem to remember forever – Cathy Levy, Sandra Foster, Terri-Karrelle Griffith (List of Miss Jamaica World – does anyone know where I can find a similar list for Miss Jamaica Universe?).

The quest to be queen

2010 was the year of Yendi Phillips – she was a second-time queen – having won Miss Jamaica World (2007) and now Miss Jamaica Universe. She is the girlfriend of Asafa Powell – only one of the fastest men in the world and previous holder of the men’s 100m title. She was both hated and loved. This emotion was captured on social media outlets – blogs, twitter and Facebook – and reflected in her numbers and the following – showing just how seriously Jamaicans take their beauty contests. None of my American friends that I asked (about 30) knew who Miss USA was. Interestingly, the only Miss USA they could remember was Vanessa Williams – due to the controversy surrounding her crown.

My tweep – @SeanABennett – made it a point to track Yendi’s progress. “This is fricking unbelievable. Yendi had 400 followers at 7:42 She now has 1,082 & the figures are growing (10:24pm). Today, 2,141 followers! Her Facebook fan page showed similar increase – from about 25,000 fans that fateful Miss Universe night to 36,287 fans today.

Social media has opened us up to a new way to chart our careers. Once we would look at our salaries, our title – but in an age of increasing entrepreneurship (yea!!), we look at our followership. Fan numbers and interaction are as key to personal brands as to any corporate brand. I see nothing wrong with that, but I do note one of the earliest (and one of the wisest) tweets I have read – “Remember Jesus himself only had 12 disciples. More than that is gravy.”

Personal brand building has always gotten guffaws – especially in Jamaican culture, it is seen as being arrogant. Striving to be the best you you can be is seen as being ’nuff’. On the night of Yendi’s winning the Miss Jamaica Universe competition, one tweeter @Djcraziikiid noted “lol Yendi must compete in Miss Festival Queen too.•LMAOOOOO and ms portmore, ms earth and so on!”

Yet Yendi placed the highest any Jamaican woman has in Miss Universe. Yet many agreed she was the hands-down winner from the minute the pictures of the contestants come out. Who stands out to you?

2010 Miss Jamaica Universe contestants - who stands out to you? Photo courtesy of Socialingua.

The moral of the story  – Believe in yourself! Believe in your brand! The social media lesson is that tracking the progress in fan followership could be the new way to mark events and even career development. It is not a new thought – popularity has always been important for certain careers – but now we have a way to measure it – courtesy of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the like. How many followers do you have?


2 thoughts on “Social Media and Life Lessons from Beauty Contests”

  1. Valuable thoughts EOTE. Just a few responses:

    Social media provides, the most perfect of all media environment because of its strong, structured facilitation of measurement.

    An important component is to effectively manage your social media presence and ensure that it reflects your authentic self. Identify how social media fits within the strategy and use it accordingly. Do not overload your followers with fluff, respect their time and share useful, legitimate info that they have come to expect.

    Also, watch out for burnout. Finally, be authentic, do you want 1000 folks who sign up to join the waggon in the moment’s excitement, or 50 who really care what you have to say and will check in frequently?

    1. Very valuable comment! There is need for delineation between the types of fans, both along the quality of fans (now know as klout!) and the type of fans – active vs passive (bandwagonists). The importance varies according to the brand one is promoting. An entertainer needs absolute numbers – klout is great! – but they need audience. A social media consultant needs more klout (though do absolutely large numbers ever hurt?).

      However, my argument was that fan/follower growth spurts can be used to document a career the way salary and job title changes were/are used. A sudden jump from 400 to over 1000 followers marks an event and a stage.

      Moreover, despite the knowledge of more complicated (and dare I say more accurate) social media algorithms – fan count and sentiment (positive or negative) are still the short hand of social media measurement.

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