A Hit Single And Fan Interaction Help Don Omar Become A Social 50 Fixture

Ever since he shot to stardom with his 2003 album "The Last Don," Don Omar has proved to be a persuasive character, both in the studio and as a touring entity. The reggaetón artist has also proved adept at interacting with his fan base, as he's demonstrated on Billboard's weekly Social 50 chart, which ranks the most active artists on the world's leading social networking sites.

Since the chart's launch in early December, Omar has spent all but one week in the top half of the ranking, peaking at No. 2 in the Jan. 1 chart week. Latin crossover artists like Shakira, Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull have also maintained a continuous presence on the chart. But unlike those names, Omar has managed to do so largely on the strength of a Spanish-only album, "Meet the Orphans" (Machete/Universal), which was released in November.

"He's our fastest-growing artist online in terms of user engagement and followers," Universal Music Latin Entertainment (UMLE) online marketing manager Sebastian Mourra says. He adds that Omar has more than 5 million followers on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and increasingly, iTunes' social network Ping.

Not only does Omar make a point of engaging with his followers with personal messages, he constantly spreads the gospel of his brand: promoting his shows, retweeting words of support from concert promoters and radio DJs and, most important, staying in touch with his network of international fan clubs known as "Hasta Abajo Somos."

"The close-knit group of fan clubs acts as influencers online," UMLE director of product development Horacio Rodriguez says. "It's a very different strategy when an artist is actually participating. Don is the one who's always connected and we try to facilitate tools for him.

"The results speak for themselves. Omar's Facebook account has 3.8 million likes, up from 700,000 last August, when Universal debuted the video for "Danza Kuduro," which went on to spend 13 consecutive weeks atop Billboard's Hot Latin Songs chart. The video has been viewed more than 72 million times on YouTube and has inspired fans to post videos of themselves dancing to the song. The strategy behind the video's promotion involved releasing teasers through Facebook starting in late July to build fan anticipation and to increase the size of Omar's following on Facebook. The song took care of the rest.

"Danza Kuduro" features French-Portuguese artist Lucenzo singing in the danceable kuduro style, which originated in Angola and is already big in Europe. That, in turn, has helped broaden Omar's appeal in international markets. "The ratio before was 80/20 favoring Latinos," his manager Adam Torres says about the makeup of his European audiences. "Then it was 50/50 or even 60/40 favoring Europeans. That was mind-boggling."