When it comes to connecting with your fans, there are a lot of ways to go about it. Some of the basics include things like replying to their comments or sending them a heartfelt thank you when they follow you. As far as I’m concerned, these should fall under “being a band 101.”
But for those of you that really want to go above and beyond, make a lasting impression on your audience, and grow those relationships to superfan status, these tips are for you.
1. Get personal
When I was 16 or so, I ordered a T-shirt and a CD from my favorite local Boston band. I was expecting the shipment to arrive in the mail any day, but what I got was a thousand times better. As I was doing chores one day, I got a knock at the door — lo and behold, it was the drummer of that band stopping by to hand deliver my merch. His grandparents lived in the area, he explained, so he thought he’d just drop off the merch personally. That was almost 15 years ago, and I still don’t have a story to top it.
While dropping in on your fans may not always be possible (or welcome), there’s a way to stay personal with them, even from thousands of miles away. For instance, including a handwritten thank-you note addressing each person and their order by name with each merch mail out. It’s a small gesture that will mean the world to every fan.
2. Record and post behind-the-scenes footage
Everyone wants to know what their favorite band is like behind the scenes. Just because you’re not touring the world playing for thousands of screaming fans doesn’t mean the fans you do have aren’t incredibly curious about who you are and what you get up to. Recording regular vlogs or tour diaries that show the unfiltered, unpolished, raw, and real versions of who you are is the kind of thing that will help your fans feel closer to you.
3. Create special contests
When you give your fans a chance to win exclusive, one-of-a-kind merch or one-on-one time with you, you’re letting them know that you value them so much that you’re willing to take time out of your day to hang with them or create something special meant just for them.
For a contest, you could offer a limited-edition T-shirt with your most popular lyrics, a rare, first-edition, signed CD, or an in-person or digital concert just for them. The more tailored it is to your fanbase — i.e., only other people in the tribe will get it — the more special it becomes, and the more heightened the sense of community and value.
4. Include them in your work
One of my favorite things to see bands do is include their fans in their work. There are many ways to do this, so get creative and try to think of something that really encompasses your specific brand and message. One idea to get you started is having fans make their own music video to one of your songs and either naming one winner and using it as your official video or creating a mashup of all the contestants into one official video.
American Authors did this back in 2014 when they released a fan themed music video for "Believer" in honor of National Dog Day. They asked fans to submit photos of their dogs along with a caption explaining why they're a "believer" (see what they did there?) that adopting a dog is the way to go. The result was not only an adorable video, but one that made fans feel included — and you better believe made them share more.
5. Interact at a show
One of the best ways to make a lasting impression on your fans is to talk to them in person, and your shows are the perfect place to do this. While it’s understandably hard to just go up to strangers and start a conversation (though I’d recommend it), there’s no reason you can’t start chatting with the people that come to your merch table during a show.
Beyond just thanking them for being there, engage them in conversation that matters to them. Ask who their favorite bands are and what shows they’re looking forward to next. It’s this kind of common-interest small talk that can end up leading to a lasting artist/fan connection. And if you recognize someone who keeps coming out to your shows — tell them! Nothing will make them feel more special than knowing that you notice and appreciate their support.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placement on Alternative Press, Substream, New Noise, and more. She’s also the owner of music blog Infectious Magazine., as well as a PR coach She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog, Sawyer.