FanCulture: The Evolution of Influence is a nearly 30-minute documentary focused on the relationship of brands with their fans. Created by Amplify, an agency specializing in “brand strategy, experiences and amplification,” the documentary is somewhat of a meditation on the nature of fans and their interest in brands from a group of marketers and superfans. In some cases the brands are bands and in all cases the discussion is relevant to marketing music.
Amplify’s FanCulture: The Evolution of Influence won’t be making the rounds of movie theaters for general audiences but is a useful tool for chilling out and considering one’s own position on building a fanbase. The key takeaway is that developing a fanbase should be approached as a long term process intended to build a lifetime relationship.
FanCulture Trailer [Full Length Doc]
Amplify is based in London so the FanCulture documentary has an added cool accent bonus for those of us who are Stateside. Their site includes info on a number of campaigns relevant to music including a European festival strategy for Converse and a curious but related sideshow for Red Bull at the Big Chill and Camp Bestival festivals.
I took notes and made connections as I watched the FanCulture doc and they include a mix of things we should all know by now and things we should be figuring out by now. I’ll let you decide which is which.
True fandom is about a deeply organic relationship with a band that can’t be manufactured. The difference between a consumer and a fan is the difference between a one night stand and a relationship. This relationship can extend throughout one’s lifetime as we see with older bands who make a solid living touring independently after leaving major labels and chart topping hits behind.
True fans give more to bands but also expect more. Often this expectation can be fulfilled through honest dialogue as well as rewards for superfans in the form of interaction and recognition from featuring fans in one’s marketing campaigns to making fans the stars on one’s blog or social media account.
Serious fans want to be part of the process. That might mean giving them opportunities to choose their own album tracklist, as did Kaiser Chiefs, or have input into a concert playlist, as does Umphrey McGee.
One of the superfans included in the doc is a bit obsessive about Marmite. Superfans can seem a bit weird at times. Respect that. Artists are kind of weird too.
Just because somebody Likes your Facebook page doesn’t mean they’re a fan. As one marketer put it, clicking like is more like a “grunt of acknowledgement” in a conversation. Take it as an invitation to engage but recognize that focusing on one’s Like count is the opposite of building a deep affinity with one’s fans.
As FanCulture: The Evolution of Influence reminds us, today one can be a fan of anything, even a brand. But, as in any relationship, if you take your fanbase for granted the relationshipuhk may be over before you realize you’ve lost it.