How To Use One Superfan To Spread The Word To Millions

from the media,-who-needs-it? dept

Techdirt has been a great believer in connecting with fans and giving them a reason to buy for many years, but it's always interesting to see people come up with new variations on this theme. Here's the idea in an extreme form, from a couple months ago: sharing a new album stream with just one "superfan" who then spread the word with dramatic results:

To recreate the word-of-mouth phenomenon that made them famous, the xx shared their album stream Coexist with a single fan just outside London last week -- days before its official US release.

It was a risky marketing move that set out to test whether the band could replicate their initial viral success with a map that tracked shares with a visualization on the Coexist stream's host site.

Twenty-four hours after the stream was shared with a fan on Facebook, the site crashed from the millions of streams, with the average user spending 2.1 hours on the site.
The "superfan" was chosen on the basis of frequent postings about the band "the xx" in the past. This meant he or she was certain to be fired up by the prospect of exclusive access to the new album ahead of everyone else. That in its turn increased the likelihood the initial post revealing the location of the stream to the rest of world would be positive. It would also come with the implicit authority of someone who was presumably well-known in the music community for writing about the band, adding to its impact.

Alongside the massive interest this approach generated, the other big benefit for the band is that it avoids the uncertainties of releasing the album first to music journalists, who are much more unpredictable in their reactions. Indeed, it was only the next day that the music press got hold of the story, by which time the huge viral success of this campaign meant that there was no question of ignoring the new album or its enthusiastic uptake. In other words, the traditional news outlets found themselves forced to acquiesce in the narrative generated by the fans, rather than being in control and telling those fans what to think.

Clearly, this isn't a strategy that can be used too often, and there's also the issue of how good this kind of connection is at generating sales. But it does underlie the importance of fully understanding the social structure of the community of fans -- in this case, in order to find a superfan who could be used to seed the rest of the fan base via an enthusiastic recommendation. There are many other possible ways of involving people who are key "nodes" in the social graph -- the ones whose influence really counts -- and we'll doubtless be hearing about them in due course.

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Reader Comments (rss)

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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Oct 31st, 2012 @ 3:38pm

    Really? "site crashed from the millions of streams"

    Millions? Really? -- Now, to be sure, the blockquote doesn't state any connection between the leak and the "crash", but that's clearly the implication. -- But, really, MILLIONS cued by this one "superfan"? How am that possible? -- If true, you'd better get hot on the details, cause it's the magic instant notice you're all looking for!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2012 @ 3:49pm

    You know its kind of crazy at how most companies treat their early adopters poorly. For example videogame companies should give early adopters a great deal instead of hitting them with the highest prices and making them pay hefty fees for DLC.

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Oct 31st, 2012 @ 4:03pm

    Re: Really? "site crashed from the millions of streams"

    I know, right? It's patently unpossible that millions of people on the internet could possibly notice a thing they were interested in, you tard. </pew-pew-pew>

     

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    Big Al, Oct 31st, 2012 @ 4:41pm

    Re: Really? "site crashed from the millions of streams"

    Ever heard of exponential growth? Person A tells 5 friends who each tell 5 friends who each tell 5 friends...
    Doesn't take long to get to a million that way (9 iterations will be close to 2 million)

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 31st, 2012 @ 5:06pm

    Verification?

    The Guardian article said this: "Twenty-four hours after the stream was shared with a fan on Facebook, the site crashed from the millions of streams, with the average user spending 2.1 hours on the site."

    But there is no link to verify this. Does someone have it or is the article based on just what the band said? I've seen so many made up Internet stories to get publicity that I don't always take these sorts of things at face value.

     

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    Laroquod (profile), Oct 31st, 2012 @ 7:25pm

    Re: Verification?

    While there are ways of estimating, typically the hard facts about how much traffic a band's website receives are known only to the band (or their webmaster if they have one). So, what sort of verification do you imagine could be done, beyond asking those people and taking their word for what its worth?

     

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    Ninja (profile), Nov 1st, 2012 @ 4:05am

    Re: Really? "site crashed from the millions of streams"

    Welcome to the Internet. Sit down, get your popcorn and watch while millions are exposed to stuff that become viral. I hope you are not feeling cold after being woken up from your frozen Neanderthal sleep =)

     

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    Ninja (profile), Nov 1st, 2012 @ 4:07am

    Re: Re: Verification?

    That. The band could be telling a lie. Seems a case where she wants the source of the source which may be kind of hard in this case...

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 1st, 2012 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Re: Verification?

    Okay, then, my default is not to take this story at face value because far too many band promotion stories are largely made up and the journalists writing them never bother to question what they are told.

    If there are numbers being collected to the extent that the band knows about them, then showing us the data the band has seen itself would be of interest.

     

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    Garethb, Jul 10th, 2013 @ 4:36am

    One Superfan

    This is inspiring stuff for DIY bands who don't have the clout or resources to employ an army of people to work on their PR. Or, acts that don't yet have a good size fan base.

     

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