Your superfans are not just assets; they are your SUPER ASSETS and you simply cannot lose one or two because of the lack of artist-fan relationship. Here are some ways to build a rock-solid relationship with your fans:
Give Your Fans a Name
You want to create a semi-cult, right? In order to make it somewhat official, you have to give your fans a name. This would make them feel like they’re part of an exclusive organization. One good example is the Lady Gaga. Gaga doesn’t like the word “fan” so she calls them her “Little Monsters,” named after her album “ The Fame Monster.” Naming your fans is one of the best ways for branding your band and developing a good following.
Tag Fans in Your Panoramic Concert Photos
Let your photographers take photos of your fans during your concerts and post them on your Facebook page. Let fans tag themselves. Challenge them to get all the faces identified and tagged. This is not a new idea but I believe it still works as long as you put a bit of twist to it. Here’s one awesome example made by the Glastonbury organizers.
The experience is a bit like Where’s Waldo for the digital age, where oddly dressed cartoon characters are replaced by real people who attended the concert. If you enable Facebook Connect, you can tag yourself and your friends.
Give Approaching Fans Your Undivided Attention
If a fan approaches you, always give them your undivided attention. You do not have to talk to them for an hour, just a minute or even 30 seconds will do. And if there are just too many of them (lucky you, why are you still reading this article?), you don’t have to interact with each one of them- treat them as a group. The point is this: don’t be a snob. Don’t just go whooshing by as if you’re having the worst day of your life, even if you’re having the worst day of your life. Make sure you read our personality development 101 so you’ll charm (or at least not turn off) any big industry man or big fan you meet.
Always Have a Couple of Merch Handy
Bring small, easy-to-carry merch -like the Beastreaks’ lollies, customized guitar picks, rubber bracelets or even just stickers wherever you go so you will have something to give fans that will approach you. You’re aiming to have super fans, so you have to feed them with these stuff. They’ll love you for it. You don’t have to worry about budget because we can make really awesome yet affordable merch.
Share Dark Secrets on Your Blog
Do not simply blog about your upcoming concerts; share something more intimate than that. Talk about your experiences, your dirty secrets, your inspiration, your opinions, your problems. Once regular fans read your blog, they’ll sympathize, laugh, and totally become more interested in your band. What most bands don’t realize is that music-lovers want something more than music, they want stories. Learn more blogging tips for musicians so you can make the most out of your blog.
Send Special E-mails
Not all fans are created equal- some are more loyal than the others. You do not want to send them all the same e-mail because the loyal ones SHOULD (and I mean MUST) feel special. They simply want to know they are more appreciated than the guy who only knows your latest hit song. If you want to develop intimacy with your fans, make sure you put them in different categories (the more categories, the better) and send them different e-mails, different web conferences, different concert invites, etc. New fans should receive different e-mails from old fans. Old fans should receive different e-mails from Hardcore fans. Make sure you won’t commit any of these frequently committed e-mail marketing don’ts or else your efforts would be useless.
Develop Shared Symbols
The concept is pretty much the same as naming your fans. Shared symbols allow fans to identify each other and connect. It’s the feeling of being part of a “secret society.” Lady Gaga’s official Little Monster greeting is the outstretched “monster claw” hand. As all Little Monsters know, the clawed hand is part of the choreography in the video of her song “Bad Romance.”
Use Loyalty-based Apps to Connect to Your Fans
One example is Flowd. It lets you chat directly to your fans, promote gigs, and throw contests. You can sync Flowd to Facebook and Twitter for easy management of your social networks. If you are an artist, you can sign yourself into Flowd with an artist profile on: flowd.com/artist_registration.
Play in Smaller Venues
Develop intimacy by playing in more intimate venues like art galleries, book stores, smaller bars or in the living room of one of your loyal fans (hey, great idea for a contest). Try to invite the more loyal fans and make sure you connect with them by sharing stories, giving some merch, giving free pizza, etc.
Stay on Your Merch Table
After your performance, head to your merch table. This will not only help you sell more merch, you’ll also be able to connect with your fans and future fans. While you’re there signing autographs, let them write down their e-mail addresses for so you can send them e-mails and newsletters.
Conduct Live Webcast
Livechat allows you to webcast a video to your fans. It is pretty much like talking to someone on Skype. Your fans will ask questions through a text-based chat room interface and you will answer them one by one.
Showcase Them In Your Music Video
The most loyal fans deserve recognition and rewards. You can express your gratitude by inviting them to dance for your latest music video. Take it from Graham Coxon’s new video for What’ll It Take. He invited his fans to dance on camera. 85 of them from 22 countries sent him footage. The result is one very unique music video.
Post Their Gifts on Your Website and Social Networks
So let’s say you’re already that loved (popular) and you’ve received tons of letters and gifts from all over the world. Take time to give each one a thank you e-mail. You do not have to rush this if you’re too swamped. As long as you do it within six months, you’re still a lovable musician. If you are active online (which you should be), I suggest you take a photo of your fans’ gifts. You can tag them and thank them one by one or shout out a big thanks to all of them.
I’m sure you have more clever ideas than the ones listed here. Do share!
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One Reply to “Transform Fans to Super Fans- How to Build a Loyal Fanbase”
Great ideas, great article! I’m curious, though, about the etiquette (and legality) of publishing emails and photo one receives privately. I have been hestitant about sharing that stuff on my website without permission of the sender, which gets into a whole administrative issue. What are you thoughts about that? Am I being too cautious? I’d be happy if you could talk me through it, because I’d love to post some of the fanmail I’ve received. I’ve been uncertain whether or not permission is implicit. Thanks!