It Starts With The Fans - Communication is Key
It All Starts With The Fans is a series that was inspired by the writing of Send In The Congregation. After spending two years observing how fans, bands, brands, and companies interacted with one another I noticed that there were distinct patterns of behaviour between how people and the bigger entities interacted with one another. Hopefully these observed nuances will help many of us to better the way that we interact with one another.
Communication Is Key
You don't want to be tied to your phone or computer all day. Who does? Technology is there to serve us not the other way around and there are times when that beeping, vibrating slab of plastic in our pocket can feel like a ball and chain. Weighing us down and constantly demanding our attention, our devices have become a time sink of memes, social media, and messages.
But if you have any kind of online presence that slab of plastic is pretty much a requirement. It helps you to track sales, create content, and keep in touch with your fan base.
You most likely already keep tabs on what is happening in your digital world. But keeping in touch with fans is something that you've most likely outsourced to a social media company. Do they respond to fans? Do they help to solve ticketing or shipping issues? Do they engage at all? Or just post whatever content you send them?
Chances are that it's the latter and fans are becoming more vocal about the lack of interaction from some of their favourite artists and brands. Most of the time their online presence is there to just sell products and little else. It's a passive platform where companies throw up a post and fans comment in the vain hope of communicating with someone. I've witnessed ticketing fiascos, issues with an online store go ignored, and refunds due to cancelled shows go unanswered. All of that was from one band based in a country whose customer service is seen as the pinnacle that the rest of the world should aspire to.
However, there are many, many good eggs out there, all of them shining examples of a well managed online presence. Some are managed by the artists themselves while others have a CEO at the helm. A quick visit to Twitter will highlight the delivery, transport, and online stores that are quick to respond to enquiries and problems. Artists often hold spirited conversations with fans. Among them James Hetfield, Dave Mustaine, and Will Smith create content and then engage with those who log in to see their posts.
The list goes on and is constantly growing. It's understandable that you'll want to keep some of your life private. But when you're in the public eye that's not possible to do 24/7 and, at some point, you have to open the door and show a little of yourself to the world. It's how relationships are formed and you have to put yourself out there if you want to attract new fans and keep them coming back.
They key question is how long does it take to reply to a comment on social media? If you become aware of an issue with, for example, a particular ticketing agency how long does it take to call your management and have them take a look into it before you post a reply to a few of the people who've raised the issue? Because of social media's algorithms and the user's ability to “like” comments, you don't need to reply to everyone because the few that you've posted will be pushed to the top of the conversation.
How long did that take?
Management are there to work for you so resolving many issues should take less time than it takes to drink a cup of coffee. Yes, there are issues that will take several people and a chunk of time to figure out. But if you're paying these people and they're not solving your problems then exactly what are you paying them for?
The line between you and your fans is a two way one. It's not just about you tossing out content and watching the “likes”, “shares”, and “comments” roll in. It's about developing a relationship with them. They talk to you so you need to return the favour. If no one is taking care of them who's going to take care of you? Because, sadly, a lack of engagement between companies and consumers is what makes the consumer walk away and spend their money elsewhere. But if you look after them they will look after you time and again.