What I Learned From Kanye West

J. Phil is a guest author who maintains the blog scribkin – where code and culture converge.

kanye-west-header I don’t follow many "famous people" blogs. Robert Scoble is about as big as I get. But recently I found myself landing on kanYe’s blog. At first I was skeptical that it was, in fact, a blog maintained by the famous rapper. In pretty short order I changed my mind for several reasons:

  • The headlines are all upper-case. What professional blogger would do that? It’s either brilliant or the real deal.
  • The blog entries have typos and are written with a lot of word shortcuts, like using the number 2 instead of to, too, or two.
  • The posts are all over the place. A rant about a recent concert. A picture of a design study. A fancy car.

Effective Marketing

I’m not writing this to deconstruct the blog though, but to tell you how I am impressed with it. And in fact, some of the same points that could be seen as criticism also earn merit, in my book:

  • The headlines are upper case. This shows excitement, passion.
  • The rants are written text-message style. The argument could be made that this is actually easier for kanYe’s target audience to read (ages 14 – 25 I’m guessing).
  • The posts are all over the place, with a strong leaning toward cutting edge design and architecture. The design posts, I suspect, are not written by kanYe. He probably sees something in a magazine or online, tells his staff that he thinks it is awesome, and they throw a post up. In this case, in a very Tumblr-like fashion, we are left to look at and get excited about stuff without a lot of interpretation or judgement. Simply.. I think this is f’n cool. Look at it.
  • There are a huge number of comments on each post. He has a big, enthusiastic following of young people.
  • What is the motivation for kanYe to even have a blog? He is interested in reaching out to his audience. Specifically, the part of his audience that is interested in stuff that is edgy, technologically advanced, metropolitan, etc.

My point about his blog being tumblr-like is, I think, the hardest to wrap to wrap my head around. When I started my tumblelog, I didn’t really have a goal in mind. I just wanted to play with Tumblr and figure out why the heck it existed at all.

Defining Tumblr

Let me take a paragraph to digress and try to communicate what I think of as essential "tumblr-ness". As a blog, it is deliberately minimal, deliberately lightweight. It’s strong on everything but what you would do with a journal-style blog. It translates badly, if at all into RSS or other formats, it is definitely best when you view a tumblelog in its own context — the blog itself. Photos, videos, quotes, things that you can look at for a moment, or take a few minutes to listen to a mp3 or watch a video. Right-brain stuff. If you thought of blogdom as a library, Tumblrs would be more of a museum. This is a great quote from Rex Hammock:

It’s where I share items I run across that are bigger than a bookmark and smaller than a blog post and less fleeting than a tweet on Twitter.

kanYe’s Strategies

I think we can learn more than a couple of shrewd marketing tips from kanYe’s energetic, rambling, crazy blog. First, that it’s awesome. Second, he really knows his target audience. Third, he likes some wickedly cool stuff. Fourth, somehow, through this blog, I see his earnestness and work toward being an artist more than any diva-like fit that he pitches onstage.

J. Phil

Phil is the founder and primary contributor of scribkin.com . He started the site in March, 2008 in order to stay on top of news and trends in web RSS and social applications, and their convergence. Phil comes from a background of over 10 years of IT and helpdesk. He is married. He is 38 years old.