Monday, February 28, 2011

The 8 Keys To Fan Communication

It's great to have fans, but in order to keep them, you've got to communicate with them. They want it. They crave it. And the interaction is vitally important to maintaining your fan base. That being said, if you're not careful, you can lose a fan just as easily as you've gained one. Here's an excerpt from Music 3.0: A Survival Guide To Making Music In The Internet Age outlining the 8 keys to fan communication, to keep your interaction with your fans both healthy and satisfying.

There is a tipping point where the fan goes from being informed to feeling intruded upon. The leader of the tribe must have a feel for where that point is and be sure to never cross it.
1. Talk to your fans, not at them. Don’t try to sell them, but keep them informed. Anything that reads like ad copy might be counterproductive. Always treat them with respect and never talk down to them.
2. Engage in communication. Communication is a two-way street. Fans want to know that they’re being listened to. You don’t have to answer every email, but you have to acknowledge that you heard it. The more questions you ask, polls you supply, and advice you seek, the more your fans will feel connected to you.
3. Keep your promises. If you say you’re going to do something, do it in a timely fashion. Don’t let your fans wait. If you promise you’re going to email a link and post a song, sooner is always better.
4. Stay engaged. Even if you’re only sending something simple like a link, take the time to engage the fan. Tell her about upcoming gigs, events, or releases. Take a poll. Ask for advice. This is a great opportunity for communication, so take advantage of it.

5. Utilize preorders. If you have a release coming out soon, take preorders as soon as you announce it, even if it’s free. It’s best to get people to act while their interest is high, and it gives the fan something to look forward to. To motivate the fan for a preorder, it sometimes helps to include exclusive content or merchandise.
6. Appearance means a lot. Style counts when talking to fans. Make sure everything looks good and is readable. Spelling or grammar mistakes reflect badly on you. Try to keep it simple but stylish, but if you or your team don’t have the design chops to make it look good, then it’s better to just keep things simple and readable.
7. Cater to ├╝berfans. All of the members of your tribe are passionate, but some are more passionate than others. Fans have different needs and wants, and it’s to everyone’s benefit if you can cater to them all. Try always to include a premium or deluxe tier for every offering, such as a free T-shirt or backstage pass as a reward for posting, a free ticket to an upcoming show, some signed artwork, some extra songs—anything to satiate the ├╝berfan’s interest.
8. Give them a choice. Give fans numerous ways to opt-in, since not everyone wants to receive information in the same way. Ask if they would rather receive info by email, SMS, or even snail mail. Ask if they’d like to receive info on upcoming shows, song releases, video content, or contests. And ask how often they’d like be contacted. 

You can read other excerpts on the Music 3.0 pages on my website.

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Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

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