You know those kids who own every single song and poster from a certain artist? The ones with a tattoo of their music hero stamped on their neck and built a virtual temple to said artist on the Internet? It turns out they may be your band's greatest resource.
The "Super Fans as a Marketing Force Amplifier" panel at South by Southwest on Friday addressed these individuals, their psyches, and even how best to build campaigns based on them.
The panel included Benji Rogers, founder of direct-to-fan platform PledgeMusic, superfan Cassie Petrey (who used her fandom to start Crowdsurf), Jeremy Holley (VP of Consumer & Interactive Marketing for Warner Music Nashville), and JT Myers, co-founder of mtheory, a company that advises managers on marketing and business strategy. Spencer Richardson, the CEO of fan relation management company FanBridge, moderated.
Music consumers, according to Myers, fall into three categories: consumers who casually enjoy a bands music; fans who buy into both the artist and their music; and the superfan, who looks for a lifestyle and community based around their chosen artist.
Petrey, as a superfan, started a Backstreet Boys magazine with over 10,000 subscribers and traveled the world over to see her favorite bands. "The number one thing super fans want," Petrey said, "is to have a relationship with artists they like." She advised labels to give fansites exclusive content like videos to spread around the community.
Petrey also explained the importance of listening to the super fan community. Britney Spears fans clamoring for her to be on the hit TV show "Glee" may have helped bring the pop star to the program.
Different genres have different expectations regarding fan interaction, according to Myers. "In heavy metal and punk it is expected to have a personal relationship," he said. "while in hip-hop it is done through Twitter, and personal isn't the norm."
"Certain musicians view fans as an inconvenience," added PledgeMusic's Benji Rogers. It goes without saying that many of those musicians may soon find themselves without fans.
Warner Music Group hires super fans as community managers, explained Jeremy Holley and went on to give tips on how to find super fans: "How many times are they commenting?," he asked. "What is the quality of the comment? Are they a site member? What different elements of online presence are they signed up for -- i.e. Twitter, Facebook, etc.? Are they creating content based on your content? Are they giving you direct feedback?."
The biggest mistake people make, Holley said, is that labels miss out by not "realizing the super fan's influence." He recommended allocating time and energy to find and develop these valuable resources.