Connecting With Fans Is About More Than Getting People To Pay Attention To You
from the a-connection-goes-beyond-first-access dept
When I first start talking about this whole CwF+RtB thing, I tended to focus more on the “RtB — Reason to Buy” part of it, because I naturally assumed that was the big problem. After all, the big thing we kept hearing was how creative folks weren’t able to make money any more. However, the more I’ve been discussing this with people, the more I realize that many, many folks out there have serious problems with the first part, the “connecting with fans,” part. I recently got an email from an artist who seemed upset, saying that he was giving out all of his music for free, but fans weren’t interested. Similarly, I recently got into a discussion in the comments with someone from a newspaper who insisted that I was wrong in saying news organizations need to better enable their community. His argument was that newspapers put up comments, just like we have at Techdirt, so they’re doing the exact same thing as we are.
Both of these appear to be cases of cargo cult copying, where someone tries to copy just the superficial outwardly obvious aspects of what others are doing, without taking the time to understand (1) the deeper underlying reasons why they work for some or (2) recognizing how that might (or might not) apply to what you’re doing yourself. Connecting with fans isn’t about “oh just give away content for free,” or “oh, put up some comment forms.” It’s about actually figuring out what your community wants, interacting with them, and giving them what they want. It’s about actually participating in some manner.
I was thinking about all of this as I read an interesting blog post by Marcus Taylor, where he explains the process by which he became a fan of the singer Jason Mraz, who had that catchy hit single last summer that many of you probably heard. But just hearing a catchy hit song being played over and over again isn’t enough to make someone a true fan. Taylor points out that it went way beyond that, and took him not just listening to much more of Mraz’s music via various online offerings, but then coming across some interviews with Mraz, where his personality shines through. Taylor points out that it took some time, but he finally realized that he didn’t just like Mraz’s music, but he liked Mraz — and that made the jump possible. From there he comes up with a short list of “ways to make fans fall in love with you”:
- Be yourself — Most people despise a fake personality and can smell it a mile off, be your self and people will appreciate that.
- Be transparent — don’t hide the fact that you’re a small local band if that’s what you are — if you’re honest and likeable then your fans will be more inclined to help you get to the next step.
- Be professional but not too serious — After all, life’s too short for being too serious and worrying about everything, have fun but remain professional.
- Leave breadcrumbs everywhere — better yet, leave breadcrumbs that show off the points above and give your fans a good reason to love you. Remember not all fans react to the same mediums as strongly so keep producing images, videos, and text content to bait them.
Obviously, this doesn’t apply for everyone, and there is no “magic formula” for figuring out the best way to connect with fans, but it’s certainly about doing a lot more than tossing out some free content and a comment form and wondering why fans aren’t rushing to you. You actually need to be a part of that process, and actually let your personality come through. Being human really counts for something, and it’s a point that’s ignored all too often.
Along those lines, this upcoming Tuesday, at the a2n conference in Berlin, I’ll be leading a brainstorming session generating ideas for musicians to better connect with their fans.