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?).
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?
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?