What do you think when you jump on Twitter and see a musician posting about their latest single? Do you look at their following number to verify whether or not they’re legit? We all do this too much. Not only is it a terrible way to see whether or not someone is worth paying attention to, it’s become this societal way to measure success. But it’s off. Way off.
Here’s the thing, the number of people who follow you is inconsequential to the real thing that matters: whether you have a collection of diehard superfans who are shouting your praises from the rooftops. You can have 100,000 “followers” but not tapped into cultivating real connections with the superfans in your audience. And if that’s the case, you’re missing the real gold mine.
Kevin Kelly is the innovative influencer behind the idea of the superfan, which he introduced to all of us in his famed article about how success could be achieved by gaining 1000 true fans instead of aiming for an audience of millions. This idea broke the ideology that fame equaled success (and was something I talked about with him in this episode of The DIY Artist Route Podcast).
Turns out Kelly isn’t the only one to point out the power of superfans for your success in music, or any creative industry for that matter. Folks like Benji Rogers talk about this subject often. The Grateful Dead reached hundreds of thousands of diehard fans without a single radio hit. Yet every year for over 3 decades their fans have crisscrossed the country to see them perform. You can say similar things about acts like Phish, Bruce Springsteen, and Pearl Jam. Pop culture doesn’t sway a superfan from giving their loyalty, passion, dedication, and support to the bands they fall in love with.
Isn’t this capacity to connect with the real people who love their music what’s made Taylor Swift and Amanda Palmer so successful in their own ways? So what’s the key to connecting with superfans? Is this something that you’re able to do once you reach a certain threshold of audience?
There can’t be a way to bring in these kinds of music fans without already having a huge following, right?
Nope, sorry, your fan base numbers have little to do with attracting superfans. What matters is working to build real engagement with these people. Think about it from their perspective instead of yours. This method of relationship building has more to do with giving interest to others for reciprocal connection than just posting a bunch of Me-First things no one connects with.
What most musicians do to get people to their shows is talk about the place and time of their next show. Boring, right? Instead, use the Growth Farming method to build real connections with passionate people for your music career.
How about tapping into something that your fan base might be into, to cultivate an insider or exclusive style with folks who are extremely passionate about music?
There is a myriad of ways to use social media to gauge what other realms your fans are passionate about. See if your fans are fans of your local sports team and have them post pictures with jerseys or merch on them, or attend your shows wearing that team’s gear (you wear it too) for more connection. The more you can tap into an area where fandom is already being exhibited makes it easier to see how to engage your current fans into participating in ways to broaden their passion into your work.
Engage with these people. Ask them to share what they’re passionate about with you. Share what you’re passionate about with them. If you love superhero comic films, invite fans to join you at the theater on opening night. Post photos of you dressed up in costumes or outfits pertaining to your superfandom.
Oh yeah, here’s a big thing. If you want other people to connect with you on passion and interest, you have to share your passions and interests with them. It’s the law of attraction, like attracts like. What are you passionate and loyal about in music, movies, sports, coffee, beer, gear or anything else where favorites could be played? Talk about that and show off your passion. The more you do, the more you draw people who wear their passions on their sleeve into connecting with you. Because they know they’re safe to be really interested in you.
Superfans are looking for a community to be themselves in, as passionate individuals who feel strongly about the things they really like. Want to connect with these people? Then be like them. And give them a safe place to be themselves. This kind of community opens doors for the diehard music fans to come to you in droves. Which makes for a more solid, vibrant audience base and a more successful career for you.