If you are like us, fandom is a big part of your life. It’s a complicated beast, because even though you are a part of fandom – there is no one side to fandom.
Studios once utilized fandom on a different level. They have become somewhat complacent with marketing and have not taken the time to really invest in the people that are going to invest in them. Gone are the days of Twilight and The Hunger Games.
But in all fairness social media isn’t the same. The truth is though, that where as people are looking at who has the most followers, they need to be looking at who has the most engagement and who really understands the fandom that is out there.
I get – you also need to grow a fandom and embrace new people to it. But in an effort to do that so many have forgotten the fandom that exists. And let’s be real – you isolate them, you are screwing yourself.
Twilight wasn’t 10 million people that saw it once. It was 1 million people that saw it 10 times.
And then it grew.
So let’s break it down – how do you reach a fandom? What do you need to follow? Well, this isn’t rocket science, but it is complicated.
A is for Absolute
Something that people underestimate a lot is fandom. Absolute is for the fact that in order to reach fandom, people need to be absolutely honest. Fandom can smell something being forced on them. Fandom knows itself, so someone infringing upon that and asking something of them that is not genuine, and that they can sense is a lie – will turn them away from the marketing of that fandom.
B is Bold
I am not talking about putting upon bright shiny neon lights. I’m not saying go out and stage something that feels like it’s this big bold activation. I am saying that in order to reach fandom, one needs to be bold. You need to have the ability to take risks and actually take them. No one wants the same thing all the time.
C is for Creative
Here’s the thing about social media – we all get that what you are putting up are graphics, videos, gifs, etc. What the average person doesn’t get is that those graphics are a well thought out stream that goes around a theme. So it’s the job of the marketer to really be creative and make sure that the themes really hit the nail on the head for fandom.
D is for Daring
It is essential that one be daring. Fandom can sometimes get overwhelming and boring. But when you are reaching fandom – be daring. Stand out. Make sure that you are willing to push the boundaries. Listen to the ideas that fandoms give you. They may seem as though they are insane. They may seem really out of the wheelhouse. But it’s important that you dare to push the boundaries. It’s important that you take the big ideas and run with them. Dare to bank on the fandom.
E is for Energy
There is no one in fandom that doesn’t realize that a studio or producer doesn’t know everything about the fandom. If you aren’t in the midst of it, if it isn’t a part of your everyday life – you are going to miss something. It’s a fact. But it’s the amount of energy that people put into that fandom that makes a fandom want to give back. If you disregard the fandom, their wants and their knowledge – you are shooting yourself in the foot. The energy you put in is the energy you receive in return.
F is for Fandom
Fandom is one of the most complicated words in the English dictionary. Even when you think you understand it – you don’t. There are multiple sides to every fandom and fandoms within a fandom. Everything is an enigma and you have to be able to figure out the way it grows and moves.
Fandom can be a part of everything. It’s not just movies and television shows. Fandom is part of everything. Fans of makeup, fans of toilet paper, fans of candles – the list goes on and on. Everything in life has people that love it and hate it. You can relate everything back to fandom. Relate to the fans, find the fandom in their everyday life, and use it.
G is for Giving Back
I think that something that people overlook is just how much fandom wants to give back. I think that what people overlook sometimes is the obvious – as much as Fandom is complex, Fandom isn’t complex. At the root of it, we are all people. We want to make a difference. We find out voice through fandom. It has taught a lot of us how to be. It’s taught us about how to be better humans and also how to not take things for granted. Fandom takes on everything about their fandom – the good, the bad, the ugly.
H is for Humbleness
I think we all feel like we’re on the top of the world and that we know everything. But the truth is in fandom – it’s even worse. We all are so passionate about the things that we love. Fandom is just that, loving something so deep that it’s a part of you. But in trying to reach a fandom and wade both sides of the fandom isle – you need to be humble. Admit that you don’t know something. Admit that something is wrong. Let the fandom acknowledge what is right. You will never please everyone – but be humble about it. It’s going to make fandom have faith in you.
I is for Inclusion
One of the biggest mistakes that people make is a lack of inclusion. If you aren’t going include everyone, just back away now.
There are many sides to any fandom. There are many sides to everything. YES, there are going to be issues and you will not make everyone happy, but you need to at least try. Yes, there are many layers to launching a campaign and the world doesn’t get that. Unless you work in marketing, you really don’t ever know all of the layers that goes into a campaign. But the people putting out the movie, tv show, etc… you need to be inclusive. You have a responsibility.
Isolating any part of the fandom will work against you. It will be your downfall. Acting as if you don’t need the fandom will work against you. Make the fandom work in your favor.
J is for Justification
Any fandom is going to know that there are mistakes that are made. We know that the studio or the person behind our fandom is not going to always be perfect and mistakes in understanding the fandom or the things that are needed are going to be made. We all know that we don’t know everything that is going to be going on behind the scenes, but we do know that if you try to justify your mistakes, rather than own up to them – there will be big issues. We don’t want excuses. We want to feel as thought we are understood. We want to feel like you are an ally. If you spend all your time making excuses and trying to justify behavior, we get it. And you will isolate parts of the fandom because of it.
K is for Knowledge
As stated above, we know that we don’t know everything. No one really does know everything. BUT – I will be point blank honest. YOU DON’T EITHER. Let’s take a specific fandom example for this one.
Divergent. Now, I know that in this life, we are supposed to tread a line and make everyone happy, but with this, I am not going to be able to. Divergent straight up sucked. Why? Because of two things, in my opinion. The studio felt that they didn’t need fandom and isolated them and the second thing, KNOWLEDGE. They didn’t take the time to know that the fandom and what it wanted.
Instead they thought that they knew everything. News flash, they didn’t.
Now it could have been different. It could have been really different, had the studio taken the time to get to know that the fandom wanted something close to the books. The majority wasn’t looking for some out of this world, high budget thing. We were looking for the story. That’s what we fell in love with.
Use knowledge to your fandom. You are only working against yourself if you try to think that you are smarter than the fandom you are working on. Trust – they know more than you do.
L is for Listening
I think that this may be one of the hardest things, because you are never going to be able to hear everything. But what I have seen so many times is that when you think that you know more than the fandom you are working on, you are talking at them and down to them, rather than really hearing them. Imagine it like this – you walk into a room full of people and you feel list in the crowd. Fandom doesn’t want to feel lost. They want to feel as though the spotlight is being shined on them and they are the only person in the crowd. They want to feel special, seen, and heard.
If you can’t give them that, you are working against yourself. They want to feel like you are hearing their excitement, their joy, and their pain. They want to feel like they are in a one on one conversation with you. It excites them.
It’s part of what makes managing your community so important. Because when you are listening to them, they will listen to you.
M is for Managing the Community
Repeat after me – you will fuck up. You will make mistakes. But the one mistake that you can never afford to make is miss managing your community.
I have heard people say that they don’t get the point of community management. They don’t understand why they would pay someone to do nothing but sit and talk to their community. I have to restrain myself because sometimes I feel like that is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. The point? To relate to them, to listen to them, to offer insights, to give them a connection…
I could go on.
Invest time in your fandom community. Make sure that they know that they are important to you. If you invest time, manage and grow the community, then your fandom will invest time and grow your property. It’s not rocket science.
N is for Neutral
Well this is one that I have a hard time adhering to. Look, being a part of fandom and staying neutral is next to impossible. People are going to say things that will set you the fuck off. You’re going to want to defend your stance, your thoughts, and your beliefs. You’re going to want to defend the people that side with you.
It’s taking a side and the thing about promoting any property is that you have to cater to both sides. It’s a find line to straddle and one that becomes overwhelming and sometimes really frustrating. Especially because even though you are trying to straddle that neutral line – it does not mean that others will. They will try to push way over the line, to bait you, to force you into taking a side.
Be Switzerland, no matter how stupid people are. Trust – they will go down with their ships. You need to go down with your neutrality.
O is for Obvious
I think that one of the things that relates to me the most is that a lot of times in life, we are going to overlook the obvious. We are going to be doing this deep dive and trying to analyze every word.
Truth being told – no one needs to.
Sometimes the answers are so obvious. If you are LISTENING – you will know what you need to grow a fandom. If you’re not listening, you won’t see the obvious, and therefore you are dumb as doornails and no one can help you.
P is for Patience
You are not going to be the most popular thing in the world overnight. Hell, the reality is – you probably will never be popular. You may have a small fandom base, but it’s a rarity that you are doing things like taking over the world and being chased down the street, because everyone knows your name. People are probably annoyed by your very existence and will be shady as fuck and say that they don’t get why that fandom is liked anyways.
Nurture your fandom. Don’t expect to be Harry Potter or Star Wars overnight. Expect that it is going to be painful as fuck and it’s going to hurt.
Patience. It will grow if you invest the time, understanding, and love into it.
Q is for Quality
Quality seems like something so obvious, but it’s something that is overlooked so many times. I think sometimes people think as long as you distract people with the bright and shiny, they will overlook what you are giving them. Sure give fandom a gratuitous shot and they will overlook a lot. But what they are looking for is QUALITY. Something that they can use. They want to be able to have something to create their own content with. They want to be inspired. BE SMART AND GIVE IT TO THEM.
Quality results in more options for you. If you give the fandom that you are working on QUALITY, they in turn with be giving you content. Free marketing people – less for you to do and more for them to talk about, create, and execute on.
R is for Radar
It makes me laugh when people are like – oh we have to get the people with the most followers to promote their product/fandom. Nope. What you need is people with the most engagement and the most reach. You need the people that the fandom will listen to. You need the people that have knowledge, that have power, and that have influence.
Have them on your radar.
Not only are they going to help you reach the people that you know that you need to reach – they are also going to help you reach the people that you don’t know you need. The reality is that followers don’t mean everything, OMG – I know, I went there. What means everything in helping your fandom grow is knowing what is out there.
S is for Stay In Your Lane
Look, not everyone can pull off Wendy’s savageness. Not everyone can get away with being sarcastic. Not everyone can get away with having an opinion on everything.
But what everyone can do is STAY IN YOUR LANE.
What I mean by this – you don’t have to insert yourself into every conversation. You don’t have to talk about things that you don’t need to. You don’t need to involve yourself in everything, but you do need to involve yourself in relative things.
Because your fandom is counting on you.
T is for Troubleshoot
I think that sometimes we forget that when you are in trouble, when there is a moment where things go wrong – it doesn’t mean that you are defeated. It doesn’t mean that you can’t find a way out of it. You have to be able to troubleshoot.
If you screw up, find a way to make everything okay (or at least as okay as it can be).
Your mind has to be able to figure out all the options, all the ways that things that can go wrong, and find a way that all the things can go right.
Fandom wants you to be able to pivot. They want you to be able to roll with the punches and to be able to listen to what they are saying, needing, and doing.
Have a contingency plan. Be able to troubleshoot. Fandom expects you to be able to bend with them.
U is for Unwavering
Oh how easy it sounds, but how easy it isn’t. To be steady and resolute takes courage.
Fandom is unwavering, so you need to be also. You can tell when someone doesn’t like the fandom that they are behind. I know that this sounds weird – but when I am looking at social media, I can tell if they truly understand the property. I can tell if they are just putting out content for the sake of content. I can tell if they know what is going on by what they put with the content.
But when you find your niche – stay the course. Make sure that the world knows that you are paying attention. Make sure that you have a plan and it’s consistent. Make sure that there is an approach.
If you are steady, consistent, and always on – your fandom will be too.
V is for Voice
There are many ways to interpret voice. But this is really two fold.
As the person that is promoting the fandom you need to have a tone, set it, and that voice should remain consistent or evolve with the timeline. Your voice may be depressing and heartbroken at first and evolve into happy as fuck – but there needs to be a reason for it. You need to make sure that the voice is consistent no matter who is on the platform.
Your fandom will notice a change in voice or the inconsistencies of it.
But the other part of voice is using the voices of the fandom. Your fandom will have voices – people that are the experts and people that you can count on. Don’t isolate them. Make sure that you are paying attention to them. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – your fandom is there and wants to be involved. They want recognition. They want to be paid attention to. Pro tip – USE THEIR VOICES.
W is for Wisdom
Know the fandom. It’s common sense. If anyone has to explain it to you – well, then you shouldn’t be involved in fandom in the first place.
X is for XOXO
There are many sides to fandom and I get it – you won’t be able to be able to get to everything, But the truth is that you need to know when to utilize the “love” part of fandom. Some people over use the love angle and it’s not always all about love. You are going to isolate some if that is all you do.
People want to feel empowered and not as if love is the only thing defining them. They want to see that in their fandom too. Give them enough, but all give them many other facets to the fandom. Even in romance. Sure, they want the sex and the love and the drama and the angst, but they also want growth of the characters, the plot, and the world.
Give the love, but give them other shit wrapped around it.
Y is for YES
This is literally the easiest thing in the world and yet sometimes I think it is the hardest thing for people to understand. You have your course that you are on. You have the things that you want to do. You have your content. BUT you also need to know when to say YES.
YES we need to change.
YES we need to listen.
YES we need to figure out a new plan of attack.
YES we need to involve the fandom.
YES we need to stay the course.
In a world where we are so used to saying no, we need to figure out the times to say yes. Especially in fandom.
Z is for Zesty
When I say the word “zesty” I admit – I think of food. But the definition is “sharp and pleasantly stimulating to the mind or senses.”
It’s simple. Make the content that is zesty. Make the content that pleases.
Fandom truly is not rocket science, though it is a complicated beast.
What do you think? How have studios reached fandoms correctly? Where have they screwed up? Tell us your thoughts.