Whether you’re a music artist, a movie star, a celebrity chef or a health and wellness guru, building, engaging and retaining your fanbase is essential. They are the biggest asset you will ever have and you should recognize that and treat them accordingly. So, the question “How to build a fanbase?” is an important one. A real biggie.
But, for us, there’s a more important underlying question here. And finding the answer to this question will help you build a loyal fanbase by encouraging you to think of them differently.
So. Are you ready for it? Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Here’s the question: How do I turn my fanbase into a community?
How to build a fanbase?
Turning your fanbase into your community really is the best way to build a highly engaged, inspired and thriving core of fans. So we’ll start by looking at how to build a fanbase before moving on to the best way to turn that loyal fanbase into a thriving online community.
These seven steps may not be 100% clear to you yet. But, we promise that by the end of this article, you’ll not only know how to build a fanbase but also how to turn that fan loyalty into a community. So, let’s dive right in and we’ll explain what we mean…
1. Find your first fans on social media
For all their other faults, social media networks are a great place to start building a fanbase. For a start, they’re free. It will cost you nothing to set up a page on Facebook or a separate account on Instagram, Twitter, Soundcloud – whatever works for you. Invite all your friends to like or follow your page. Then ask all of your friends to ask all of their friends to like or follow your page too.
And then just start talking about stuff. Try to talk about things relevant to you and your first fans. And don’t get yourself caught up in conversations that could offend your fans or harm your reputation. But, other than that, be as vocal as you can. Post about events you’ve got coming up, use Twitter to tweet other people who are doing something similar to you and create opportunities to collaborate. Just go for it. The more you post, the more discoverable you’ll become.
Chances are you’re a social media pro already thanks to your personal use of social networks. Once you’ve gained enough social media engagement, you will have already made a great start at fostering fan loyalty.
As a quick reference, here’s a run-through of the social channels you can use and the best practice to make the most of them:
How to post on Instagram?
- Instagram users look at visuals rather than read your descriptions so focus on creating beautiful imagery and adding a short description and hashtags.
- Upload photos and videos from your events, shows, daily life and when you’re working.
- Use the stories feature on Instagram to create compelling content.
- Use Instagram hashtags to join conversations and get your photos discovered.
- Build your following using engaging imagery and relevant hashtags.
How to post on Facebook?
- Create a Facebook business page for you/your business/your band/your community.
- Facebook users engage most with video content so upload video content to Facebook whenever you can.
- Post updates on what you’re doing and thinking about for your current fans to stay in the loop.
- Post photos and upload videos to your page.
- Build up your following by starting conversations with your followers on your page.
How to post on Twitter?
- Twitter users engage most with short, relevant statements and questions accompanied by a visually engaging photo or short video.
- Post short updates about what you’re doing/thinking/reading/listening to.
- Post photos and short videos of your shows and events.
- Join conversations by using hashtags and talking about relevant stories.
- Joining more conversations will get your name out there more and make you more discoverable.
How to post on YouTube?
- Building relationships with your fans is an ongoing activity. Use YouTube to show what you’re doing visually.
How to post on Pinterest?
- Pinterest gets millions of monthly visitors looking for the type of content you’re putting out. So be sure to make this part of your social media marketing strategy.
- Use relevant tags to help people find your content.
- Be active on Pinterest and share other people’s content as much (if not more) as you share your own.
2. Combine social channels to become a powerhouse
If you only want to focus on one social channel, that strategy can work. However, one effective way to increase your social media engagement is to combine the usage of all your social channels.
Suppose you’re in the midst of your budding music career, you might regularly post your songs to Soundcloud. Now imagine if you cross-posted your Soundcloud music to your Youtube account?
You’d be able to reach a whole new audience. Having a good content marketing strategy will help you understand which social networks are the right ones for your content.
When you’ve got considerable fan loyalty, it’s exciting to know that your fans will be happy to follow you on whatever platform you use.
So whether you’re starting your music career or building a community of sports fans for your sports teams, utilise all the social networks you have available.
3. Be your own PR
“Public Relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.”
Public Relations (PR) is super important if you want to build a fanbase. No matter who you are or what you do. You need to build a positive public image and establish contacts in the press and media world who can help you get your name and your positive public image in the right places for maximum exposure.
So get out there. Speak to as many people as you can about what you do. Go to local events. Do things at charity days. Accept any opportunity for an interview. All of these are great ways to get your name out there and into the social search bars of all your future fans.
Returning to our example of how to create fanbase in music, strengthening your PR might just start with picking up plenty of gigs to help promote your music. This will help you to build connections with venues, local press, and other musicians, therefore growing your sphere of influence within your niche. And of course, the more you share your music, and the more people listen to your music, the better chance you have of getting discovered by a new potential fan or even someone who works at a record label and is seeking new talent.
4. Harness the power of email marketing
When you’re starting out, email marketing can seem like a daunting thing to take on. But, if you make a start, we guarantee that you’ll see some great results. It’s a great way to build a fanbase.
The beauty of email marketing is that it keeps you at the forefront of your current fans’ minds. Every now and then, whenever you have some exciting news, or perhaps a monthly newsletter, they’ll get an update from you. This is your opportunity to engage your readers and remind them of just how cool you are.
And in case you’re worried about how to actually start your email marketing – fear not. There are some really good free email tools out there like
All you need to do to get started is create a signup form using one of the tools above. Then, put links to that form all over the place. Add links to your social media pages. Add a sign-up button to your website.
Top Tip: If you want people to sign up to your mailing list, put a big, noticeable button at the top of your website. This is called a Call to Action button and putting at the top of the page (above the fold) will get people clicking and signing up for your beautiful email marketing.
5. Create a community building website
Whilst there are some costs associated with building and running a community building website, it can really help you to build a fanbase. It gives you an anchor. Somewhere for your fanbase to gather. Somewhere to send your fans after one of your events. Somewhere to showcase all of your content and creativity away from the distractions and short attention spans of social media. This is your own space.
How to create a community website?
- Create beautiful and visually-engaging landing page for all your fans to see when they come to your site.
- Use photos and videos of all the cool things you’ve been doing.
- Write blog posts about all your latest news and exciting events.
- Add a big sign-up button for your mailing list.
- Start an online store for you to sell whatever it is that only you can make.
And again, similarly to email, there are so many new web tools out there that can help you make beautiful, interactive, community building websites. Wix, WordPress, SquareSpace and Create are all a great place to start. And sites like GoDaddy can help you sort out your domain name and all that good stuff.
So don’t be afraid of that initial investment required to build your website. Trust us, it’s worth it.
You may also want to consider building your community around an app. People are increasingly using apps to engage with their favourite bands, brands, celebrity figures, passions and hobbies. Companies, like us at Disciple, are now turning their attention to the power of apps as a community building tool. Our community software is easy to use and doesn’t require any coding knowledge.
Again, same as the community building website, creating an app will require some initial investment. But the returns are incredible, especially if you make the most of your own dedicated app. It’s a powerful alternative to social media and websites. One that places your brand on the homescreen of your fans’ phones and gives you your own, dedicated channel of engagement.
6. Make it fun to be your fan
If you make it fun to be your fan, people will want to be your fans. Right? So make it fun and interactive. This will show your loyal fans that you appreciate them and care about them.
The best way to do this is to run competitions. For you, competitions create great opportunities to collect new subscriptions and more data from your fans.
All you need to do is tell fans that they can win free tickets to your next show, or a free signed copy of your book, or even a “meet & greet” before your next event. All they need to do is submit their email address, first name and last name to be included in the competition.
Just like that. You’ve got incentivised subscriptions and people volunteering their contact information because they want to win something. And who doesn’t want to win something? Free stuff? Yes please.
For your fans, competitions make them feel like they’re part of something. They’re part of a shared experience with all your other fans. It’s a fun and exciting experience that can really bring your fans together and help you to build a fanbase
In the eternal words of the great band Hot Chocolate, “Everyone’s a winner”.
7. Be exclusive, but not too exclusive
Fans love exclusivity. There’s so much mystery around what really happens backstage and behind-the-scenes at shows and events. So give them a glimpse behind the curtain into exactly how much work goes into being you and doing what you do.
Meet & Greet competitions are a really good way to do this. Luke Bryan has been doing this to great effect and his fans really love him for it. Take a look at his case study here, for more info on how Luke uses his app.
Here’s what you need to run a competition online:
- 2 x Tickets to your show or event marked as “Meet & Greets”
- An online form using a free tool like Typeform
- Some interesting questions about you that your fans will need to answer in order to win.
How to run a competition online?
- Give fans a link to your competition entry form. Put the link up on social media, on your website in your email marketing. Put it everywhere.
- Tell fans that they just have to answer two or three quick questions and put in their email address in order to win the competition.
- Give your fans a week or so to enter the competition. Keep posting the link and talking about the competition throughout the week to drive as many people there as possible.
- Select one of the entry email addresses randomly and let them know they’ve won!
- Remember to post to all your other fans to let them know that the competition is over and wish them luck for next time.
That’s it. It’s really that simple. And your fans will love it. Especially the fan who wins.
By running competitions like this, you’ll be offering your fans a new experience, unique to you and your fanbase. And by creating shared competition experiences and offering your fans opportunities to meet you, you’ll be turning your fanbase into a community. Moments like these bring people together and build strong communities.
So, there are our first seven tips on how to build a fanbase. But the fun doesn’t stop there. We want to make this as easy as possible for everyone who wants to build a fanbase.
And we said that we’d cover the real underlying question in this post. So, here goes:
How do I turn my fanbase into a community?
Firstly, let’s just talk about what we mean by community here. A community is really just a group of people that have something in common. And that something can be anything. A belief, a passion, an interest, a language.
Now that you’ve read the post this far (and done everything we suggested, right?) you have built a fanbase. And that fanbase, coupled with your art or music or work, whatever that may be, is all you need to turn that fanbase into a community.
From everything we’ve seen, having a highly engaged, close community of your biggest fans leads to real revenue and value. Sure, we know having those big follower numbers on your social media pages feels great, but, according to the Pareto Principle, 80% of your sales will come from just the most highly engaged 20% of your fans.
You need to work out who that 20% is and how to gather them together into a community. We work with people to help them turn their fanbases into communities.
Social media sites are great for a number of reasons. Above we talked about the positive ways you can use social media channels to start to build a fanbase. But, social media sites also have their limitations.
Here are three things that stop social media from being the best place to engage your audience:
- There’s a lot of noise on social media sites. The News Feed is a busy space shared by friends, family, content creators, news organisations, videos, music and adverts. It can be really difficult to create content that actually engages and retains people’s attention spans.
- The rules are always changing. Social marketing agencies had just about got their strategies straight, but then the algorithms change and sites like Facebook and YouTube announce that they’ll no longer be showing content from publishers and content creators. People like you.
- There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Social networking sites appear to be free when you create your account. But if you try to do any advertising, you’ll find yourself tangled up in the incredibly complex world of paid social advertising. For example on Facebook, if you have a page with 10,000 followers and you post once a week, but want all the followers to see your posts, you will have to spend over £3500 a year on post boosting.
And the list goes on. There are many reasons why social media networks are a great tool, but there are also reasons why not.
What is Disciple?
More and more people are turning to community apps, as they want more for their fanbases and communities than social media can offer. These content creators want to harness a real sense of community amongst their fans and followers.
The community apps we build create a space for fanbases to come together and interact with each other and with you – the community host. Fans can post on their own wall, start conversations with each other, post photos and videos from your latest event – whatever they want! And you can post whatever you’d like on your own wall for your fans to Like, Share and Comment on.
With our apps you can livestream yourself and your team during some of the moments that your fans wouldn’t otherwise get to see. In the studio when you’re recording your next album. At a book signing when you meet a superfan. When you’re at home doing something fun.
All of these features combine to create a community app for your fanbase. It creates proximity. Proximity between you and your fans. Proximity between fans. And it is this proximity that really turns a fanbase into a community.
The data is telling us that engagement and interaction in our community apps is 16 times higher than on social media pages and profiles. So this alternative really works. It brings a fanbase together, gets them talking to each other, lets them talk to you and gives them a place to become a community.