It’s all very well expecting your fans to be loyal and follow you to the end, but we live in a fast consumerist society where even your most loyal fan will let their attention wander unless you become a master of what social media experts like to call ‘fan engagement‘.
The thing is, it’s not their fault. Society craves the latest tidbit, the newest trend and the quick fix. With everything moving so fast no wonder we get bored so easily.
So how do you keep a fan interested in you while you are making your next great recording, or leading up to a tour?
Well the experts are right that it’s all about keeping your fans engaged, making sure they’re still thinking about you and your project a couple of times a week through carefully placed and timed bulletins with your Social Media tools, mainly Facebook and Twitter.
It can be boiled down to five simple rules to follow that help you keep your fan base connected and makes them feel special and part of what you do.
Rule 1 : Always Be Approachable
Back in the day, the ‘Pop Star’ had an unreachable elusive quality, and the fact that you couldn’t get to them made you want to be with them more, from the Beatles in the Sixties right up to the Nineties, fans craved their idols, soaking up every bit of info they could get slowly leaking out from the limited channels around at the time.
But times change and in the age of information we can find everything we want to know about an artist in a good few hours, leaving the rest of the time for the ‘fan’ to discover something new and move on.
So you need to give more of yourself to maintain your relationship with the fan. They need to know a little bit more about what makes you tick, you need to let them into your lives a lot more than previous generations of artists.
This can be a good thing. You can easily control and create content to use in your social media. You don’t need to expose every detail in your life, but there are definitely times and moments that can make you seem more human and approachable.
Use Facebook, Twitter and other sites to reflect your tastes. Display and share your favourite music, movies, TV Shows, clothes, food, anything you’re interested in outside of playing an instrument. If any one responds with a comment make sure to comment back. You’re not just commenting back to a single fan, but to everyone who follows your page.
Make sure you put up images and videos from behind the scenes. Seeing and hearing you as normal people will help your fans feel they know you a little better, weather its back stage, in the hotel, or on the plane.
Rule 2 : Start Conversations
Talk with your fans, not at them.
Ask them questions. They can be relevant to you and your music, or just discuss opinions on other music, world events and current affairs. Spend a small amount of time each day making sure you do this, as a quickish response makes your fans feel that you’re there, and that they’re part of your life.
Get your fans involved with your decision making processes – this can be done easily in Facebook with the question system they have available.
You can ask your fans which of your albums is their favourite. What tunes do they want you to perform live, for example. Another idea you could ask is whether there is a particular song that they think you should cover. The possibilities of engagement on this level are endless.
Rule 3 : Give Away Your Music & Other Rewards
Everybody loves something for nothing.
Unfortunately music has become increasingly devalued over the past decade, with the latest generation of music fans rarely feeling that they have to buy music at all. Nonetheless, giving away your music is great way to get your fans’ personal email address.
Once you have their email you have a direct link to your fan forever, not just through the latest trend in social media. I must admit I don’t see Facebook going the same way as MySpace did in losing popularity but it could happen, and it’s always better to own your fan list, rather than to leave it under the control of whichever social media platform you happen to be currently using.
We.ve seen specific enormously positive results in sales of music as a result of an artist giving away nearly half their current release. And this is consistent sales, not just peaks around release dates.
Create competitions. These work brilliantly and are another cool way of collecting those important emails from your fans. Competition ideas can range from free music, to tickets, VIP passes, personal meetings. There are many things you can offer your fans. Be as creative as you dare.
After shows are a cool idea. Offer a select few the chance to stay back after the gig, for an exclusive extra 30-40 minute performance. Creating a more intimate relationship with those special few.
Give away stickers or even posters at the gigs. Yes, you can make a bit of money here, but a small gift can go along way!
Rule 4 : Make Your Fans Part Of The Process
Nothing helps sell an item more than word of mouth, the trusted belief of one consumer passed on to another.
Well, this is exactly how social media works. You need to make your fans part of the process. And nine times out of ten, they are more than happy to do it. If you don’t ask you don’t get, so if you have something you need to get out to the public ask for that share and ask for that retweet.
There’s no point in being cool, and thinking that people will get on and share it. I’ve seen it for myself – the percentage difference between not asking and asking is huge. Your fans should care about you, and they’re more than happy to help, but it will get passed over if you don’t create a direct call to action, and get your fans sharing and retweeting.
Rule 5 : Don’t Be Negative
Everyone likes a moan, but these days nothing goes unnoticed online.
And the last thing anyone needs is a whole pile of bad stuff coming back at you for something you may have said or had an opinion on in an off moment. So, it’s good practice to keep your public persona positive. To become a negative critic of someone or something can be detrimental, and you may have something in your past that you’ve forgotten about coming back to haunt you too. There’s a whole lot of Internet out there!
All creative types put a lot of time and love into their projects, but public dissing can get out of control, and in this viral age a small innocent comment about something can cause a lot of damage, so try and be respectful at all times. Fans can get turned off by this.
That said, it can equally be that taking a stand on an issue is true to you and your online persona – only you will know what’s right. What I’m saying is don’t use your online profiles carelessly to throw your weight around. If you choose to do so, be sure you kn ow what you’re doing and where it can lead.
Armed with these 5 rules, you ought to be able to get the most out of your online promotion of your music. More than anything just be consistent, active and interetsing. That’s what makes you engaging!
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