You’re probably used to drafting up fan-oriented Facebook posts and newsletters, but one hurdle many artists can’t surmount is how to give individual fans the attention they crave. After all, you’re busy marketing, promoting shows, booking tours, and, oh yeah, making music. At the end of the day, there’s no time or money left over for extensive chats with single fans on a regular basis.
The good news is that there are lots of ways to make connections with individual fans that cost you nothing and take virtually no time at all. Try these five ways to build those connections and get to know each of your fans a bit better.
1. Create a private Facebook group
It’s overwhelming to try and interact one-on-one with your most loyal fans, but by creating a private Facebook group and inviting those most devoted to join, you’re not only able to give them extra attention, but also build your fan network by introducing your biggest fans to one another. This could also lead into creating a passionate and cohesive street team; after all, it’s easier to brainstorm and plan using Facebook threads.
For a little extra zing of specialness, make sure you name the group something like “[Your Band Name] VIPs” – something that denotes that the group is exclusive. Post first-listens, demos, or show off your album art before revealing it to the world. Incorporate your typical social media content in the group, too, but make sure to sprinkle in enough exclusives to reinforce its specialness. Be sure to check in at least once a day and “like” and comment on every post. Seriously.
2. Host Google hangouts
For an even less time-consuming option, set aside an hour a month and host a Google hangout for your hardcore fans. Hand-select who gets to attend, and make it into a contest if you feel your fanbase would be into the idea. Though some might be bummed they missed out on a hangout, always remind your fans that there will be another next month – then direct them to where they can either sign up for your newsletter, enter the contest, or whatever entry venue you choose, if you choose one.
During the hangout, chat about your life, talk about your music, introduce your fans to your cat or significant other, or play some covers. The possibilities are really endless, and you can feel free to get as personal as you like. Bonus points if you remember something personal about your fans from their Facebook posts. For example, play a song and dedicated to someone in the hangout because you know it’s his or her favorite.
3. Follow them back
Seems stupidly simple, right? It takes milliseconds, yet it means the world to fans. No matter who you are, you’re going to get excited if one of your favorite musicians follows you back on Twitter or Instagram because it’s a real rarity.
But who do you follow back? A good rule of thumb is if you recognize the person from one of your shows or from another platform, or if that person directly interacts with you via a tweet or comment, follow him or her back. That fan is more invested than folks who just follow indiscriminately and never engage.
If you want to go the extra mile, “like” and comment on their posts, and make sure that they know you’re noticing them. Those miniscule interactions mean so much.
4. Give them free stuff
No duh, right? Human beings love free stuff. Your fans probably have already picked over your merch table, but if you see one of your devotees hanging out after a show, ask him or her which items appeal to him or her the most. Then, graciously give him or her one. Sure, it’ll eat into a fraction of your merch take at the end of the night (and, speaking as a former merch girl, make sure you let whoever’s manning the merch booth know you’re taking something so the count isn’t off), but it’ll ingratiate you with that fan forever.
Also, if you’re given free drink tickets by the venue, slip a few to your biggest fans. This is a surefire, no-cost method to reward your fans, and some might even be excited that you’re “buying them a drink.”
5. Send them video replies
One of the latest Twitter trends is video replies. Next time a fan tweets at you, instead of just “favoriting” the tweet or shooting over a quick reply, take 30 seconds and make a short video on your iPhone. It doesn’t have to be some long, drawn-out message; simply say, “Hey [name]! Thanks for listening to my new track! So glad you like it. Hope to say hi at my gig this weekend in Cleveland!” (If that person is from Cleveland – if not, mention gigs in his or her area.)
Make sure to always personalize the tweet with that person’s name. Besides making him or her feel special, it removes any doubt that it’s just a generic video you send to everyone.
Remember that even the most minute effort on your part means so much to your fans. Even more importantly, keep in mind that music isn’t a one-way street; the most beloved musicians try to give back to their fans as much as they get, so if you don’t currently have a fan-oriented marketing strategy in place, it’s time to adopt one.
Allison Johnelle Boron is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Goldmine magazine, Paste, and more. She is the founder of REBEAT, a “blogazine” focused on mid-century music, culture, and lifestyle.