Five Ways That Artists Can Engage With Their Fanbase
Some of my artist friends are terrible at engaging with people, especially online.
I’m sure it’s not because they can’t stand dealing with people. It’s more because they’re introverted beings (like I tend to be sometimes). However, I can be extroverted when I need to be, and most of my artist friends think that I’m extroverted because of my engagement on and offline.
I know all too well that engagement sells. A creative can only sell off of a lack of engagement after they’ve done all of the prior work necessary for their work to speak for itself…and there aren’t many artists that can do that. So, in the case of most creatives, engagement is necessary for an artist’s survival, particularly in a social media driven society. This is even more imperative for an artist’s interactions with their fanbase, which brings me to the topic of this post.
I share five simple ways for an artist to engage with their fanbase, online and offline. Read them below:
Informally meet up with fans before or after concerts.
Formal meet and greets are cool, but they can seem impersonal, depending on how they’re set up. Randomly coming out of the back door of a venue or on stage after most of the crowd has left is a way that you can informally interact with fans. Even a last minute announcement of a meetup hours before the concert is a cool way to do that. This could be either via social media (in a tweet or Instagram Stories) or through a really great curated email subscriber list.
The best ways to engage fans in this manner are to attempt wholeheartedly to pay attention to one person or group at a time and meet as many of your fans that are there as you can. If there aren’t a lot of fans there or enough for you to handle, try to personally talk to them all. A good example of this is SZA: she met up with fans after her shows and some of the videos from those interactions were beautiful. Please make sure that you’re in a safe environment when doing this.
Make random phone calls.
I can’t tell you how excited I was to get a phone call from Rapsody last year after she advertised on Instagram that she would personally call her fans. I happened to get the memo two hours after she posted the original post, but I DM’d her anyway and was still able to get a call from her.
You can make these phone calls as inclusive as Rapsody probably did or you can make them exclusive. A contest or random drawing of a few fans from social media or your email list is a good way to do it. This drawing or contest can be done once to promote your new project or tour (like Rapsody did for Laila’s Wisdom), or once every week, month or quarter just to keep fan engagement going. You can also go the Erykah Badu route (from her promotion of But You Caint Use My Phone) and get a spare phone to let fans call you for a moment. Ryan Leslie does something similar to this via text message. Either way is dope.
Engage with them in your mentions.
This is the easiest way to go about engaging with your fanbase. Have conversations with them and, if the time allows it, make the conversations meaningful. My pet peeve with some artists in terms of engagement is that they react feverishly to the negative comments (or what seems as rude critique) and not as much to the positive comments. Make sure you show consistent love to the folks that show you love.
FaceTime them or go live with them on social media.
Putting a face and voice to a name for your fans has to be one of the dopest things to see. When you can’t meet everyone face to face in person, going on FaceTime with them or doing any kind of video chat with them is a great alternative. Everyone doesn’t have FaceTime, but most folks are on social media platforms where they can go live. Instagram and Facebook allow you to do that.
Earlier in the summer, Stalley did a LOT of Instagram Lives with individual fans for a brief moment. You don’t have to do as many of them as he did. You can do a few at a time or do video responses to DMs that you may receive from your fans.
Include them in your performances or projects.
Beyoncé has this effect on people in general, but when YouTubers and visual content creators like Evelyn From the Internets had their videos about Lemonade used as a montage during her tour, you change lives. Things like including their words, visuals, art, and voices (with permission and attribution, of course) can make fans not only fans but family…and sometimes even employees. Shouting out your supporters on tracks (like Lupe Fiasco did on The Cool for his first major fan blog at the end of “Fighters”) or even including them personally in your thank you’s or liner notes is an amazing thing to do as well.
The most important thing to do while engaging your fanbase is to show gratitude. The fans’ support will sustain your coin and even your sanity when other forces are working against you. Make sure that is your main priority. Let other marketing tools, like showcasing new work, come soon after.