Lady Gaga: How Mastering Social Media Has Made Her The Ultimate Pop Sensation.

It’s quite likely that four years ago, the name Lady Gaga meant very little to you. Today, she’s reaching record breaking sales for her album “Born This Way,” holds the top spot in Forbes magazine’s annual Celebrity 100 list, and has the rapt attention of more than ten million twitter followers. Just as she is finding new ways to surprise her fans with outlandish and provocative outfits, she’s also finding new ways to reach out to them within social media and technology.

Within the past year she has forged partnerships with Amazon to release her album for a limited time at just 99 cents, saddled up with FarmVille’s 60 million players for a first listen to exclusive un-released songs, and developed a new project called “Glam This Way” with MAC cosmetics – where fans could upload their photos in the hopes that they’ll appear on a couture dress worn by Gaga at an upcoming event. More than just moneymaking ventures – they also enable her to find new ways to interact and engage herself with her audience.

Her ad for Google Chrome is as much about Gaga’s fans as it is about herself. The video shows a triumphant Gaga celebrating not just her own success, but the ‘fabulousness’ of all her “little monsters,’ as she calls them. The spot elevates her fans into superstars – Lady Gaga is taking them along for the ride.

Jon Accarrino, Director of Social Media at Definition 6 – a  marketing agency that emphasizes this ‘new communication paradigm’ –  ‘an always on, always evolving networking environment’ – tells POPgoesTheWeek that Lady Gaga is often used as an example of what works in marketing.

“The way Lady Gaga works Twitter is no different than seeing her perform live,” says Accarrino. “It’s amazing display of talent and I frequently use her tweets as Voice of Brand case studies when training both clients and Definition 6 social media staff.”

Corporations could take a page from Gaga. Rather than forcing her brand on her followers, posting random promotional tweets with little personal interaction, she does the opposite. She connects with them.

“Following her on Twitter is fun and has value,” Accarrino says. “She makes her fans part of her life. Read her tweets. She says things like this is ‘our moment’. Her fans aren’t being broadcast to, they are being included in her journey like they are part of her family.”

It is a level of interaction that distinguishes Lady Gaga from other popular Twitter users.

“It’s like Lady Gaga is leading a parade of her fans. Most celebrities aren’t as inclusive when it comes to their fans. For example, Charlie Sheen’s fans might be #winners, but they are definitely watching him march in the parade of fame by himself while they watch from the curb.”

Then, she takes it a step further.

“Unlike a lot of celebrities on Twitter, Lady Gaga actually reads your tweets – and then responds! Check out her Twitter feed. It’s flooded with replies to her fans. Just imagine how empowering that is. If Lady Gaga replies to your tweet, you just became an instant advocate,” says Accarrino. “You’re going to run around all day telling your friends that Lady Gaga responded to you on Twitter and say wonderful things about her to everyone who will listen.”

Martin Kupp, a professor at the European School of Management and Technology in Berlin, tells Reuters that corporations should seek this level of innovation.

“Social media is not a one-way communication and I think Lady Gaga understands that,” Kupp said. “It’s more about emotions, engagement and interactivity, so she’s very advanced.”

And even when she exhibits her most outlandish style, outfits that are unlikely to be copied on the streets – there is a unique form of empowerment that is passed along to her fans… the freedom to express yourself without concern for meeting the expectations of others.

“She’s not held back by the things that most women in the public eye are held back by, which is wanting to be sexy and glamorous,” Jo Hoare, Style Editor of Heat magazine tells BBC News. “Basically what most women want to be is to be pretty and I don’t think she cares. We can see that when she puts those ugly bumps under her head or paints her whole face like a skeleton…I think prettiness and being admired by straight men comes quite low down on her scale of importance, which makes her very different.

Of course, it’s of no little importance that Gaga has a genuine talent. As skillful as she is at harnessing technology, she also recognized the need to pare it down. While many artists insist on production techniques to ensure perfect pitch and flawless instrumentation, Gaga gained credibility by uploading acoustic, un-polished videos of her singing her most popular tracks without the bells and whistles of a production crew. The results were impressive, cementing her reputation as an artist that has more than technology on her side. She has talent.

To watch her trajectory is to be awestruck. Before her appearance at a “Musicians At Google” sit-down interview, they rolled a video that shows just how remarkable her ascent unfolded online.  (The video is below, to see this part, you only need to watch the first two minutes.)

In a recent NYC concert, Gaga recollected a time when she herself was an audience member at Madison Square Garden, wishing that instead of the headliner performing, she was the one singing and dancing instead of “…that bitch onstage.” She then said she looked forward to the day that one of the people watching her now – one of her ‘litte monsters’ – would someday be on that stage performing, and she’d be in the audience cheering them on. The superlative, says Accarrino, is a brilliant one.

“It’s genius. How many pretty perfect people are there in the world? Not many… by calling herself “mommy monster” and her fans “little monsters,” she’s creating a massive inclusive community that is welcoming to everyone, no matter how average, weird or eccentric you are. It’s a deeper bond beyond artist and fan. It’s a “family.” Lady Gaga is encouraging her fans to be themselves, let their monsters out and know that they are welcome by everyone in her “monster” family.”

By all indications, her monsters are happy to be a part of it.