This post is a part of our 10 Elements of an Influential Brand series where we cover the essentials to building a powerful brand. Follow this series to learn how to attract an audience, keep them engaged, and turn them into loyal fans.
If you want to organically grow your brand, then you need to cultivate a community of evangelists.
When consumers feel like they’re cared about and listened to, then brand evangelists are born. An evangelist is someone who’s more loyal than an average fan and they show that by actively promoting your brand to their own networks. These fans feel more involved and proudly associate themselves, as well as their own lifestyle, with your brand. These supporters are the frontline sales people who will start the movement and spread your brand’s values.
Before we dive into how you can generate a self-perpetuating army of evangelists, let’s look at the numbers.
In general, we prefer and are more likely to purchase something that is recommended by our peers over something we found through an advertisement. In fact, Nielsen conducted a survey of 28,000 internet consumers and found that 92% of them trusted recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising and promotion.
In regards to social media, a study by Morpace, a market research firm, 68% of consumers said that a referral from a Facebook friend would positively influence their decision to buy a product or explore a brand. At the same time, 41% of them said that their primary reason for liking and following fan pages was “to let my friends know what products I support.”
Realistically, people are busy and don’t have the time to critically evaluate and choose from multiple products. Nor do they want to waste time doing research if someone they trust has already tried the product and has a strong opinion about it.
As much as this applies to all consumer products, it’s highly important for musicians because the market is crowded.
So what are some strategies to help you inspire fans to be evangelists?
Discover Your 1000 True Fans
Let’s be very clear, not every fan is going to be an evangelist. Nor do you need every possible listener to be a true fan.
In 2008, Kevin Kelly, author and former executive editor of Wired Magazine, penned an essay called 1000 True Fans. The idea of the essay is that creatives only need 1000 true fans in order to make a living. Kelly defines a true fan as:
So how do you determine who is already a core fan and who are the casual fans that you should be working to turn into core fans?
The first step is creating meaningful interactions with your fans. To do this, you must understand your fans. Many people will tell you to start with demographic information when analyzing your fan base and figuring out how to segment them.
Examine location, age, gender, education levels, etc. It’s good information to have, and will be useful to know at times, but demographic information will only tell you so much, mainly the “Who.”
What you should be more concerned about is psychographics. Psychographic analysis is the practice of “classifying population groups according to psychological variables (as attitudes, values, or fears)”. Psychographics are focused on telling you the “Why.” Meaningful interactions will allow you to gain that psychographic information that will allow you understand your fan base and further connect with them.
There are are few ways to go about obtaining the information you need, but what it really comes down to is understanding people and what makes them tick. This is simpler than you think.
Take a look at your social media feeds. See which posts have the most fan interactions. See which songs your fans are talking about or what lyrics they’re quoting. See if you notice repeated interactions from certain fans. If you do, take a look at their profile and learn more. Yes, we’re encouraging Facebook and internet stalking here. Look for what concerns them, what moves them, what drives their behavior, what their interests are.
Document your learnings and begin creating a database of your fans in a spreadsheet. It comes down to you taking the time to listen to your fans.
Interact & Personally Acknowledge Your True Fans
You’re probably wondering, how do you acquire those true fans and turn them into evangelists once you’ve identified them. As Kevin Kelly explained it, in order to acquire true fans, you must engage with and convert your lesser fans.
As a band or individual with a platform, you have the power to truly make someone’s day by personally recognizing them. Fans might feel small in their mundane lives, so surprising them with a reply, like or comment can really make them happy.
As you have shows, interact with your fans and do more than just perform and go home. Stay and talk to them. Interview them, especially fans you’ve seen at multiple shows. If need be, directly ask them what makes them support you. If that’s too direct, have a natural conversation with them. Most fans will offer up the information without much pressing. It not only helps you, but creates memories for your fans that increase loyalty and lifetime value for them.
You can even take it a step further and really play to their ego by giving them a spotlight. Consider running a hashtag challenge or a contest and highlight them via your blog, social media or bring them on stage at a show. If you run a contest, make sure that it requires active engagement and promotion from fans in order for them to participate.
Or you can always send select fans personalized emails or thank you videos for attending your shows and buying your music. If you’re just beginning to build a fanbase, I highly encourage you to do this as it’ll go a long way with developing your core fans.
More often than not, you already have very vocal brand enthusiasts that preach about and praise your work. Find them, connect with them and personally thank them. They’re your loyal brand soldiers. Your fans are you biggest advocates, and not only does personally engaging with them give you information to improve your marketing, it energizes them to talk about you and use word of mouth to get your name out there.
Make Your Content Convenient to Share
If you want fans to promote and share your content, then you need to make it as easy as possible for them to do so.
If you post videos, songs, or images in your newsletters, website, blog, make sure you have noticeable “click to share buttons,” so fans can immediately share something they like without even thinking about it. Also, make sure that it’s easy for fans to subscribe to your newsletters, learn more about you, hear your music, share tour announcements and buy your merchandise.
As obvious as this seems, many brands overlook this step, simply because social media already makes content accessible, so it’s easy to assume that it’s as easily shareable. However, you have to keep in mind that people in 2017 have short attention spans and don’t want to put in too much effort. Convenience creates a great and memorable experience.
At the end of the day, remember that the way you make fans feel will ultimately cause them to go tell all of their friends. They should be so loyal to the brand that they’re willing to shout out and preach without you instructing them to do so.