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.