Community building — three lessons from the music festival industry

Customer ExperienceTechnology

There’s a music fes­ti­val for every­one these days. Some cater exclu­sive­ly to indie lovers, oth­ers to heavy-met­al afi­ciona­dos, oth­ers to elec­tro fanat­ics… The list goes on. While the music may be dif­fer­ent between them, there is one thing that every fes­ti­val has in com­mon: they are run by peo­ple who know their audi­ence inside out and can deliv­er a fan expe­ri­ence that is entire­ly curat­ed to their tastes.

Music is just one part of the fes­ti­val expe­ri­ence. A fes­ti­val venue has become a place where like-mind­ed peo­ple can come togeth­er, enjoy their shared cul­ture, and feel they are part of a larg­er com­mu­ni­ty. It’s a per­fect exam­ple of some­one tap­ping into our sense of trib­al­ism.

The world’s most loved brands do the same thing, some­times just as effec­tive­ly. They excel at build­ing com­mu­ni­ties of fans who feel emo­tion­al­ly con­nect­ed to their prod­ucts and ser­vices. Just think of the heat­ed debates that rage on between “Apple peo­ple” and “Sam­sung peo­ple”, or between “Coke drinkers” and “Pep­si drinkers”.

The dif­fer­ence between prod­ucts may often be objec­tive­ly minor, but their respec­tive fans would defend one over the oth­er to any­one who will lis­ten.

This just proves that peo­ple can be as emo­tion­al­ly invest­ed in a brand as in a musi­cal sub­cul­ture, so long as they feel a deep enough emo­tion­al con­nec­tion to that com­pa­ny. But how do you build that con­nec­tion?

Draw­ing on the music fes­ti­val indus­try for inspi­ra­tion, here are a few tips to help brands grow an engaged fan com­mu­ni­ty

1 Cre­ate con­tent and expe­ri­ences that get peo­ple talk­ing

Fes­ti­val pro­mot­ers know their job doesn’t end when a fes­ti­val is over. It takes a con­sis­tent stream of per­son­alised con­tent and share­able expe­ri­ences through­out the year to keep fans excit­ed, grow the com­mu­ni­ty, and inspire atten­dees to feel even more ded­i­cat­ed ahead of next year’s event.

The same goes for mar­keters. Under­stand what makes your prod­uct or ser­vice great, cre­ate rel­e­vant con­tent that excites fans, and offer them a plat­form to share that con­tent. Take LEGO’s social net­work, LEGO Life, which under­pins the company’s mis­sion to inspire the builders of tomor­row.

Using a friend­ly, secure mobile app, users can show off their LEGO cre­ations to a com­mu­ni­ty of oth­er young builders and draw inspi­ra­tion from each oth­er. The added ben­e­fit for LEGO is that it gets a bet­ter under­stand­ing of what excites peo­ple about its prod­ucts

2 Define your iden­ti­ty

We’ve already dis­cussed how effec­tive­ly music fes­ti­vals estab­lish what they are and what they stand for.  This clar­i­ty is key. A brand that can’t clear­ly artic­u­late its iden­ti­ty will strug­gle to engage its audi­ence, much less grow its fan com­mu­ni­ty.

It takes the right expe­ri­ences and con­tent for brands to define their image clear­ly. For instance, Bar­clays South Africa aims to become the country’s best dig­i­tal bank by 2020, but the first step was to change cus­tomers’ per­cep­tion and estab­lish itself as a “cool” com­pa­ny (no small feat in the bank­ing sec­tor).

Using Adobe Expe­ri­ence Man­ag­er and Adobe Ana­lyt­ics, Bar­clays can now cre­ate, pub­lish, and test new con­tent across a range of dig­i­tal chan­nels, which means it can con­tin­u­ous­ly refine its approach and give cus­tomers the cool expe­ri­ences they crave.

3 Tar­get peo­ple, not plat­forms

Brands con­stant­ly look to new plat­forms as a way to extend their reach and grow their cus­tomer com­mu­ni­ty, often through more engag­ing dig­i­tal con­tent. Whether it’s video or clever social media acti­va­tions, com­pa­nies under­stand that visu­al activ­i­ty tends to elic­it a strong emo­tion­al response.

But it’s impor­tant to remem­ber that con­tent needs to tar­get peo­ple, not just the devices or plat­forms they use. It’s bet­ter to deliv­er per­son­alised expe­ri­ences that show you under­stand your audi­ence than to roll out cam­paign that works across every con­ceiv­able plat­form but has been dilut­ed in the hope of achiev­ing mass appeal. Unless they speak to the right audi­ence in the right lan­guage, brands have lit­tle hope of build­ing a ded­i­cat­ed fol­low­ing.

It takes time to build a fan com­mu­ni­ty, whether you’re a music fes­ti­val pro­mot­er or an enter­prise mar­keter. You need to under­stand your audi­ence – not just who they are but who they want to be – and offer them expe­ri­ences that ring true based on this pro­file. Today, com­pa­nies like LEGO and Bar­clays have applied a mod­ern mix of tac­tics and tech­nolo­gies to make this hap­pen, and are see­ing results.

Click here to see how Adobe’s tech­nolo­gies helps brands become more expe­ri­ence-dri­ven and attract a grow­ing cus­tomer-base of devot­ed fans.


Customer Experience, Technology
Jamie Brighton

Posted on 17-08-2018


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