The 3 Pillars Of Music Fan Engagement

3_pillarsIn a previous post I talked about why it’s important that musicians interact with their fans. But how often should this be done? And for how long? Can managers, labels, or interns handle fan engagement for you? Here are 3 important things to keep in mind when developing a strategy for fan engagement.

1. Authenticity

First and foremost, communication with your fans must come from you, the artist, in your voice. Not your manager, label, or intern. People aren’t interested in hearing generic updates from your label or agent. They want to get to know your personality, hear about your experiences. Essentially, fans want to feel like they’re on the journey of your career along with you.

Now, can updates sometimes come from your manager/label/intern? Yes, but sparingly, and it should be made clear when the updates are not coming directly from you. For example, on Facebook and Twitter, any updates coming from your management/label could be tagged with “- Team Example Artist”. Nobody else should try to “sound” like you if they’re updating your social media profiles on your behalf.

2. Consistency

Consistency is key when it comes to engaging with your fans. You can’t post an update on Facebook one day, then disappear for several weeks to come back and find that a bunch of fans responded with questions that you never answered. People will likely stop paying attention if you don’t have a consistent presence. There are tons of distractions out there, so to truly break through the clutter, you have to be consistent. Take some time every day to check your social media profiles, respond to fans, ask questions, and start conversations.

3. Sustainability

And finally, when it comes to fan engagement, you have to sustain it over the long term. Don’t expect immediate results. It might take months of being consistent to start seeing more quality interactions with your fans, which in turn could lead to new fans, more people at your shows, and increased sales.

There are literally thousands of distractions out there for people. But if you show up every day ready to engage with your fans in some way; answering a few emails, responding on Twitter, asking questions on Facebook, and you sustain that over months, then years, you will no doubt develop a solid fan base to give yourself the best opportunity to build a sustainable career.


Never Leave Your Fans Hanging

One extremely important thing to keep in mind when it comes to fan engagement: never leave a fan hanging. If they email you, email back. If they leave a comment on Facebook, respond, or at least “Like” it. If they reply or ask a question on Twitter, respond back. A short answer or a quick thank you can go a long way in making that fan feel special, like they're an active part of your world.

As an artist, it really has become part of the job description to interact with your fans. And since fans now have access to an unlimited amount of music, if you leave them hanging, chances are, they can easily find an artist that won’t.

Hypebot contributing writer Dave Cool is the Director of Artist Relations for musician website and marketing platform Bandzoogle. Twitter: @Bandzoogle | @dave_cool

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  1. I completely agree that your voice must be YOUR VOICE. But you can sit down and spend an hour writing tweets/FB posts that are then fed into the stream over time.
    You can delegate some basic fan engagement.
    For example, when someone RTs my tweets, my VA says thank you. When someone follows me, my VA helps me by following people back and then I watch them for awhile to decide if we want to continue following them. It’s a team effort.
    You can schedule tweet chats either formal (with hashtags associated) or informal – Amanda Palmer just tweets out – “ask me a question”
    You can answer common questions in a blog post and then have your assistant point back to that post in response to the people who ask it again and again.
    You can also delegate some content generation – if you know specifically who your niche target market is and what their wants/needs/desires (I teach this in Multiple Streams of Music Income), then you can get your assistant to research the sources/solutions and create posts about them. And they can research things to RT, quotes, etc. as well.
    You just want to make sure that your balance or ratio is good – 70:30 engagement/content:promotion – and that a good percentage of that 70% is quality engagement, not just likes and thank yous.

  2. Hi Debra,
    Thanks for your comments, and I totally agree. If an artist reaches a point where they’re getting 100’s of questions/responses everyday, then delegating to other band members, interns, etc., becomes key. I think as long as the artist is spending some time every day (maybe 30-60mins) personally engaging with fans, it will show, and no doubt be appreciated by those that they correspond with.

  3. This is all understood, but how do you have all this fan interaction and answering questions yet still retain an air of mystery?

  4. Hi Jack,
    That assumes that artists must retain an air of mystery, and I’m not sure that’s the case. If it makes sense for an artist’s brand to remain mysterious, then that approach might work, but it would be hard to pull off without a management team/agent/publicists working to do some of the heavy lifting on promotion. Artists like Sufjan Stevens and God Speed You Black Emperor have very little presence online, and retain that air of mystery for sure. But again, they have teams to help with promotion and getting the word out about shows, new music, etc.
    On the flip side, you have artists like Amanda Palmer who share pretty much everything, and practically live on Twitter interacting with their fans. Other artists like Matthew Ebel , Zoe Keating are very active on Twitter as well, and are very open with their fans.
    I guess it comes down to what approach makes sense for the artist’s brand, and what their needs are in terms of promotion; whether the artist has a team in place or budget to hire people, etc.
    I once interviewed Nancy Baym, Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas, and online fandom expert about this very issue. She talks about the concept of “Fans or Friends” and the challenge of artists retaining some mystery in the age of social media:
    “Fans or Friends? How Social Media is Changing the Artist-Fan Relationship” => http://bit.ly/UJFhPl

    Dave Cool
    (Yes, that’s my real name)
    Director of Artist Relations
    Twitter: @dave_cool @Bandzoogle

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