People love to be on a team. Think about any major sporting event and the over-the-top fans with their face paint and typically aggressive and passionate attitudes. They're so into the game because they want to feel as if they're part of the team, and if the team wins, in a sense, it means that the fan wins, too.
This mindset should be the absolute same for artists! Community is so powerful, because your fans want to feel as if they've assisted you in your growth; they want to feel as if they've succeeded when you succeed. While that's the sociology of it, let's be honest, too – having a community of fans also boosts your sales, gig attendance, and social media growth. Here are three surefire ways to build an online community that supports your music, and in turn, supports your growth.
1. Incorporate a community name into your branding
You were likely expecting this one, but just as Lady Gaga has her "Little Monsters" and the Grateful Dead has their "Deadheads" (One Directoners, Beliebers, you get the drift), you too should find a way to incorporate a community into your brand.
Now, maybe a nickname for your fans isn't the way to go about it, and that's fine, too. But you should still find some way to connect your audience with your work. This could be a hashtag or catchphrase such as Kevin Gate's "I Don't Get Tired" mantra, which he incorporates into his social posts with its acronym #IDGT.
The sports team analogy works here, too. While a sports team may not necessarily call their fans something, they still have other small things that tie the fans into their brand such as hashtags, catchphrases, and certain branded colors. Find ways folks can identify with your music – whether it's unique merch, a fanbase name, or a catchphrase, you can easily utilize these tools to garner and strengthen your community.
2. Actually be active in that community
I see a lot of artists brand a community with maybe a cute little name or a hashtag, but they don't actually do much with it. The community name and catchphrase needs to make sense, but also, you have to actually engage with your fans!
Ensure that you're replying and personally thanking your fans for retweets, comments, and interactions. And I'm talking personally responding – auto-responders are just a lazy way of interacting with your fans. Other small things go a long way, too, such as sticking around after shows to meet people and just being overall approachable, discussing your community, and showing appreciation towards them.
If you don't have any live gigs, maybe do weekly live-streams at a set day and time. Or, you could even try a Twitter chat with a chosen hashtag.
3. Create limited and custom content
Brands do this all the time – limited items just for certain members. Maybe VIP members of a certain organization get access to certain products or tickets early. This should be the same with your fans. Your fans who are signed up to your newsletter get first dibs on merch, or better yet, have custom merch for fans who share your work online or comment on your YouTube video.
Giving your fans access to something that others don't have access to is a great way to create superfans. Also, as stated before, merch that has your fanbase name or catchphrase is always a great way to reenforce the sense of community.
As a music marketing strategist, Tyler Allen works with an extensive array of artists, labels, music tech, and music retail entities. Tyler began his music industry career with Sony Music Entertainment and RED Distribution, as well as the advertising industry. He is dedicated to giving veteran artists the tools to preserve their legacy, and new artists the tools to begin theirs (as well as everything in between). Learn more at wtylerconsulting.com.