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It’s time again for us to shine a light on how one of the world’s biggest brands use the four main social networks.

However unlike in previous weeks when we’ve focused on consumer brands such as Coca-Cola, BMW, Red Bull and Nike, this week the subject is The Rolling Stones.

The Stones are obviously very different from the other brands we’ve looked at in that they have a dedicated, global fan base, but they’ve still got to try and maximise their revenue by flogging concert tickets and merchandise.

With ticket prices what they are this is no easy task, particularly when targeting younger fans who won’t be as familiar with the band as older generations.

But social media allows them to bridge this gap to an extent and make the wrinkly rockers appear relevant and in tune with younger audiences.

So to find out exactly how they’re doing it, here’s a look at how The Rolling Stones use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+...


The Rolling Stones are currently on tour so the Facebook timeline is filled up with photos, setlists, videos and, of course, links to merchandise. The page's 13 million fans can even vote on which songs they want the band to play at each concert.

The updates generally achieve upwards of 15,000 ‘likes’, several thousand shares and hundreds of comments, with the behind the scenes and gig photos proving to be particularly popular.

Therefore the social team is obviously having some success in building buzz around the dates beyond the usual press reports and gig reviews.

Each gig has t-shirt and other products tailored to the specific arena or city, and these items are heavily promoted on the Facebook page.

However due to the huge number of updates posted, which average around three or four per day, the sales messages don’t appear heavy-handed and are far out-weighed by fan-friendly photos and videos.

The Stones even used Facebook to run a teaser campaign for the current tour using image with the hashtag #StartMeUpWednesday, then posted a YouTube video announcing the dates simultaneously on YouTube and other social channels.

Immediately following the announcement the social team created Facebook events for each of the gigs complete with links to Ticketmaster so fans knew where to buy tickets and could confirm attendance. 

In the weeks building up to the tour The Stones built up excitement among fans by posting images of the band rehearsing, clips of previous concerts and even a message from Jagger apparently recorded specifically for Facebook fans.

There were also frequent links to ticket buying sites and information on costs and availability, but again due to the amount of content being posted these don’t appear overwhelming.

The posts achieved a decent level of engagement, with each receiving up to 10,000 fan interactions, helping to raise awareness of the tour and ticket availability.

Finally, the social team has filled in a detailed timeline for the band detailing each of the major milestones and album releases, though in reality it’s unlikely that many people bother to look it.

Overall it’s an extremely well maintained Facebook page and will have helped to build awareness and buzz around the tour among Facebook fans and their wider social circles, which will no doubt have helped to flog a few extra t-shirts and albums.


The Rolling Stones Twitter feed largely shares the same kind of content as the Facebook page, namely photos, videos and concert promos.

However it also occasionally tweets random lyrics, retweets the band members and responds to occasional @mentions.

The social team also ‘favourite’ a lot of tweets, which is a quick and easy way of responding to fans and recognising that you’ve seen their message.

However the best use of Twitter comes during the gigs, when the social team live tweet what’s happening live on stage.

This includes which songs are played, special guests and Jagger’s interactions with the audience.

It’s simple enough to do but is a great way of getting fans excited about the concerts and could help to flog a few of the remaining tickets.

The Twitter feed also came in useful in the run up to the current tour when it was used in a week-long teaser campaign that also involved Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram.

As previously mentioned, the campaign centred around the hashtag #StartMeUpWednesday and the band’s official social channels posted numerous images of billboards across the US that included lyrics from their best-known songs.

GRRegory, the band’s new gorilla mascot, also made vague comments on Twitter about the fact that “something’s coming”.

Data from social communications agency 1000heads showed that in the six-days leading up to the big reveal the hashtag #StartMeUpWednesday was used 9,000 times by almost 5,000 unique users, with around two-thirds of these mentions (65%) taking place during the immediate build up to the announcement.

When the tour was finally revealed there were more than 1,800 uses of the hashtag in a single hour, which would account for fewer than 1% of the band’s 332,434 Twitter followers (at the time), though this obviously fails to take into account people who tweeted without using the hashtag.

In the 24 hours after the announcement the #StartMeUpWednesday Twitter campaign had made an estimated 28.6 million impressions on Twitter from the 8,989 mentions created by 4,929 unique users of the site.


  • 74% of these tweets were retweets of existing content, primarily relaying details about the tour and information concerning the timings of the announcement itself.
  • 23% of the hashtag’s use was seen in regular tweets, and 3% were direct @replies to other users.

Overall, the campaign achieved a decent amount of mentions in the build up to and immediately after the announcement, and a potential reach of 28.6 million impressions is not to be sniffed at.

The aim was to build anticipation around an unknown announcement and then amplify the news when it was revealed.

The chart showing how often the hashtag was used clearly shows that it achieved this aim, and the fact that usage quickly died away is largely irrelevant as the goal was presumably to maximise the initial impact.

It should also be noted that band members all have their own Twitter feeds, though they tweet fairly infrequently and I will admit that I don’t believe Keith Richards has ever personally used social media.


I wasn’t expecting the Stones to have a Pinterest account yet it appears that they do have an official presence, though it’s failed to drum up much of a following.

The social team has created 21 boards and pinned 709 images, but attracted fewer than 3,500 followers.

The boards are a decent mix of images of the band, tour posters, live performances, and images uploaded by fans to various other social networks.

There are also boards dedicated to each member of the band, including a strange one for the late Brian Jones which only has one image attached.

Overall though it’s slightly uninspiring and doesn’t really offer the kind of content that people like to share.

Pinterest users are generally looking for inspirational images of fashion, food and holidays, so it’s no great surprise that photos of old rock stars with links to Ticketmaster in the comments aren’t proving to be very successful.


A number of the consumer brands I’ve looked at while doing these posts haven’t really bothered with Google+, however in keeping with the band’s efforts on other networks it also maintains a busy G+ page.

That said, the content is identical to that which is published on the band’s Facebook page, so with G+’s new two column layout it’s basically just a white version of the band’s Facebook timeline.

As a result of this, plus the fact that nobody uses Google+, the posts get very few interactions despite more than 100,000 people having the page in their circles.

Still it’s a gallant effort on behalf of the social team and one that puts the likes of Walmart and Ikea to shame.

It’s worth noting that Keith Richards also has an official G+ page, though he's only bothered to update it nine times since 2011.

David Moth

Published 22 May, 2013 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1686 more posts from this author

Comments (3)

Laura Phillips

Laura Phillips, Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai

Great article David, thanks! It's great to gain an insight into how icons of different industries utilise their social media and what we can learn from it.

over 3 years ago



Well said and a good read - thanks a lot.

One thing to lessen the good impression of this review is the fact that since the last 3 gigs or so of this tour, the live-tweets from Grrrregory have stopped. Sadly. They are missed by many, not only on Twitter and FB etc., but also from fan pages and boards...

over 3 years ago


Carina Holtby

Check out this Tagboard - it pulls everything that has been tagged w #StartMeUpWednesday

over 3 years ago

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