His art crossed barriers, his fashion allowed us to appear militant and
pop at the same time, his fusion of sounds and collaborative work style
saved parts of the music industry in the 80's and gave MTV an injection
of legitimacy.

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His product endorsements and original scores drove fans to purchase millions of products.  He helped define the cola wars.  He also helped raise the bar when it came to producing advertising that had an entertaining production quality.

The impact of his death was amplified by social media. 10-years ago, we would have learned of MJ's passing via TV, or a friend or coworker. Yesterday, our knowledge was
immediate.  With my tweet deck open and my iPhone on my desk the news came in waves. First it was a video from a tourist on a starline bus who uploaded a video of the ambulance leaving Jackson's home.  Then it was an avalanche of tweets and links that updated his condition on a real time basis.

Michael Jackson Tribute at the Apollo Theater in Harlem

The global coordination of fans mourning in public was fascinating. The photo above was taken by my daughter. We used twitter to see where fans were converging in our neighborhood. (We found groups of stunned MJ fans in Harlem, Times Square and Chelsea)

Even more fascinating was the "private" behaviors that drove iTunes to slow, amazon to clog and twitter search to fail.  Yesterday afternoon showed both the power and frailty of the digital medium. Celeb-news site, TMZ.com (AOL/Time Warner owned), secured the scoop when it was first to
report that Jackson had died — but the site then crashed several times,
unable to cope with millions of visitors flooding to it.

According to mashable 30% of Tweets last night contained the phrase “Michael Jackson”. Twitter
appeared to be straining under the weight of the tributes to Michael.  Even Elizabeth Taylor who was to devastated to give comment via TV or radio turned to twitter to tweet her respects.  You can catch the 140 chatter by using the following search filters: MJ's, #michaeljackson, michael jackson, RIP MJ

One of the most fascinating tweets today was when P-Diddy tweeted a link to a tribute song that features The Game, Usher, Mario Winans and Boyz2Men to name a few.  Diddy's tweet to approximately 1.3 million Twitter followers has made “Better On The Other Side” the most popular link on Twitter today. (it has almost 2000 retweets).You can download the song at BOX.net a file sharing site.

Picture 5

Picture 4 The rapid changing information added to Wiki's across the net triggered this message to appear on Jackson's Wikipedia page: This article is about a person who has recently died.
Some information, such as that pertaining to the circumstances of the
person's death and surrounding events, may change rapidly as more facts
become known.

The firm New Media Strategies notes
that Jackson’s Wikipedia page logged 1.8 million visitors yesterday,
compared to its daily average of just 20,000.  According to Mashable it also saw a whopping
650 edits as users updated the entry furiously as news broke.

Picture 8 If you attempted to search anything last night you probably noticed that the connection speeds felt like 56k modem slow.  For 35 minutes, millions of people who googled
Jackson’s name were greeted with an error page rather than a list of
results. CNET reported that Google believed it was under attack
when the news first broke.  Google said that there had been a “volcanic” surge in interest in
Michael Jackson, with most of the top 100 searches related to the singer.

Facebook reported that Jackson’s page was
attracting about 20 fans a second, and fast becoming one of the top pages in
all of Facebook. (@ 2:42AM it has 1,228,072 fans)

Yahoo's blog post Losing Michael Jackson is reporting that it set an all-time record for traffic, documenting 16.4 million unique visitors. That beats out
election day, where yahoo saw 15.1 million visitors.  The Losing Michael Jackson  post has a way cool behind-the-scenes look at the search logs, revealing what users were most curious about. (Check our How to moonwalk, Celebrity death in threes and Music - Jackson Five music and his solo work; also searches for his albums and songs)

Once again, real people reporting a story, revealed yet another tale of the traditional news media playing catch-up with the digital.  However,  it took the traditional outlets to lend their credibility to real people reporting.  Together, Broadcast + Digital + Mobile showed how the established players such as TMZ.com / AOL / CNN have finally worked
out how to tap into the power of convergence.

What we know for sure is that no matter your opinion of MJ's private matters (accusations of molestation, childlike behavior and plastic surgery) he never stopped helping change the way we listened and participated in the creation of his music and persona.  Jackson was the intersection of art, philanthropy and social movement. 

I cannot imagine a brand being able to coordinate a product or service launch, update or invention being as powerful as what Michael Jackson's persona did.  We should study the trend to understand how to attempt to replicate it in our marketing lives.

Last night the mediums and the messages converged and exploded.  What was your contribution or experience to the #michaeljackson effect?

Sources:

UPDATE SAT. JUNE 27,2009

Picture 1

Vote on your favorite Michael Jackson song at the NYTimes!  Visit: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/06/26/arts/jackson-songs-vote.html?hp

ON: The Michael Jackson effect – #michaeljackson via @jpenabickley