In my last blog, I talked about the importance of super fans. That blog was more about how to start the creation of them. This blog is more about cultivating and growing your relationships with them.
Any artist can do simple things to respond to fans, but here are some ways you can go above and beyond to show dedication to them and morph them into super fans.
- Initiate the contact. Don’t just wait for them to contact you. Imagine the surprise they’d have when they see a comment from you on their wall when they wake up one morning. It doesn’t have to be long, maybe just a quick hello and asking how their week is going, or a saying a quick Happy Birthday. And when/if they write you back, write them back again. An artist that takes the time to get to know them will mean more than an artist who takes their fans for granted. If you’re off tour and have some spare time, get on Facebook IM and chat with them. Take the initiative; it will speak volumes.
- Keep track of your mentions online. Set up Google Alerts for your or your band’s name. If you see a blog written that mentions you or talks about your music, comment on it. Do Twitter searches on your name (or even better, subscribe to the RSS feed of your name search). Follow and respond to anyone who talks about you (not just people who talk to you). Maybe they heard your music somewhere or saw you in concert; respond and let them know you appreciate their comments and feedback.
I recommend using a Twitter client to help you better organize your Twitter activity. I’m currently using HootSuite. It allows me to monitor multiple accounts for Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and WordPress (you can also connect some other social networks as well). It allows you to post a status multiple places and track responses. You can set up separate columns for Twitter searches on your name so you know which people you should follow and respond. It’s a great way to monitor it all in once place. Tweetdeck is another great client to try.
- Ask questions. Start discussions on your Facebook, Twitter, or blog. Ask people where their favorite restaurant is in a town you’re playing. Ask them what their theories are on the latest episode of Lost. Ask them for feedback on lyrics. Ask them to share experiences relating to a certain topic. And once you do that, make sure you respond back to them. You don’t necessarily need to respond to every answer, but you should respond to some of them. The phrase is over used, but it’s very true: communication is a two way street. You can’t expect them to keep commenting if they feel like you don’t read it or care enough to respond.
- Blogging. A lot of artists feel like they don’t have enough to say to keep a blog entertaining. I disagree. You travel around playing music, you’re meeting new people every day, you’re hearing stories, and you’re experiencing things that some people could only dream about. You speak through your lyrics, so why not speak a little more in depth? And blog regularly, a few times a week. If you don’t update your content regularly, they will stop coming to your blog because they think you never update it.
There are three basic ways to approach a blog. 1) The deep, insightful, and challenging blog where you discuss various issues and topics to really speak what’s on your heart. WordPress is a good blogging site for this kind of blog. 2) Quick short blogs talking about random events: a funny story or something you found online that made you laugh. Tumblr is a great site for this kind. 3) A mix of both 1 & 2, in which you can use either WordPress or Tumblr.
- Video Blogs. Video blogs are a great way to keep your fans engaged because you’re actually showing yourself and not hiding behind music and words on a page. You show more of your personality, humor, and heart when people can see the way you actually talk and think. A study done by ComScore showed that 25% of all searches done on the internet were through YouTube. These stats are a huge indicator that you should be populating your brand on YouTube as much as possible, whether you make some video blogs about your day or take a promo picture of yourself and overlay one of your songs on top of it. Make sure you tag it properly so when people search, they find your videos.
Video cameras are easy and relatively cheap these days. They come on phones, computers, cameras, etc. It’s worth the investment.
- Video Chats. If you have a solid fan base around the country, these are easy to do and a great way to get to know your fans and what they want to know about you. They see your face, and they know it’s really you responding. With websites like ustream or livestream, you can create a channel and broadcast video live as long as you have a web cam. On most newer macs, cameras are built right into your computer. If you don’t have a web cam on your computer, you can get them for relatively cheap at stores like Best Buy, Target, and Walmart. You can live broadcast yourself on your channel for anyone to view, and you can open up the chat function on these sites for people to ask you questions so you can respond to them live via your broadcast.
This may seem like a lot of things to juggle, and as a solo artist, it may be too much so you’ll have to pick and choose. However, if you are a band, you can break it up pretty easily. One of our bands, for example, assigns each member an online function. One handles Facebook, one handles Twitter, one handles MySpace, and they all have a day of the week where they write a blog. So they only have to worry about one social network and one day a week for their blog.
These are some relatively easy things you can do to increase your online presence and strengthen your relationships with fans. Don’t be frustrated if you aren’t getting great responses at first; it could take months. In person relationships take time to build, so do online ones. Give it time, and watch it grow.
Your fans are you biggest disciples, give them more reasons to talk about you by being constantly involved in their lives.
If you have any other ideas that have worked to grow your relationships with fans, please share them! We’re always looking for more ways to connect to fans.