This is the third post in a five-part series on What Rockstars Can Teach You About Kicking Ass With Social Media. Part one is here, part two is here.
A few months ago I was doing research for a post on music marketing and found the above site, TheDonnasMedia.com. This is a massive fan-run site that has audio and video from performances by the band The Donnas. We are talking everything from late night appearances to full-length concerts from all around the world. Not only that, but for some of the concerts, custom artwork and liner notes have been created so you can literally burn the concert to CD, then print out the cover art and liner notes and create your own CD. Thousands upon thousands of hours of audio and video is available, all to download for free.
After poking around and seeing all the content that was available, I assumed it was only a matter of time before The Donnas found out about this site, and their lawyers made the site go away. As it turns out, The Donnas DO know about the site, and not only haven’t tried to close it, but they actively support what their fans are doing there. Even to the point of putting out calls to their fans to upload concerts to the site if there’s not a copy currently available.
I was surprised by their stance, and contacted their manager, Molly Neuman, and told her that this looked like the band’s strategy was to sell more music, by giving it away. She said that was the idea, and explained that “We want our fans to get into the music and also support us by buying our records. We trust that our fans won’t abuse the availability and that makes for a great relationship.”
Note those two bolded words ‘trust‘ and ‘relationship‘. How many companies have squashed efforts by customers to make their content, even commercials, available on sites such as YouTube? But The Donnas approach their fans as people that are helping the band promote themselves, and they see them not as adversaries, but as partners. So they embrace what their fans are doing with TheDonnasMedia.com, and trust that they won’t abuse that trust.
And for their part, the fans that run the site actively police it. No content on the site is commercially available for sale by the band. If anyone attempts to upload any song or video that the band is trying to sell, the site’s community immediately flags it and deletes it. Because they appreciate the fact that The Donnas are trusting them with the site and have empowered them to help promote and grow the band that they love. They feel a sense of co-ownership in an effort to support and grow the band that they love. And to The Donnas’ credit, they see how effective their most passionate fans are at promoting them, and are empowering them by giving them more control to do just that.
Let’s talk about how Fiskars has applied many of these same lessons via social media. Many of you are no doubt familiar with the story behind The Fiskateers. Fiskars was looking for a way to reach their customers and form closer relationships with them. The products themselves had little emotional connection with their customers, but Fiskars, in working with agency Brains on Fire, discovered that there was a very active crafting community online, and Fiskars created some of the most popular products for crafters and scrapbookers to use. So Fiskars decided to position their efforts not on their products directly, but instead on the bigger idea of scrapbooking.
And they decided to reach out directly to people that were active in the crafting and scrapbooking communities to lead their effort, or become Fiskateers. Fiskars was smart enough to find the people that were most passionate about their products, and give them control over their efforts. Spike Jones from Brains on Fire explains what they learned:
“I’m blown away. Sure, when we first set out to create a community/movement for kindred spirits for one of our clients, we knew – that with a lot of hard work that involved rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty (in a great way) – that something special would happen. And the key part of the movement was to find those passionate people, give them the online and offline tools and opportunities to talk to one another (and also reach out to potential kindred spirits) and then get out of the way. Sure, we expected a lot of things to happen. But even in its infancy, it’s gone far beyond what I ever imagined.
Now – unprompted – these passionate advocates are creating their own marketing tools. They are stepping up and taking ownership in an international brand. They are personalizing something that used to be institutionalized. And they are coming up with ideas that the brand – or even (gasp!) Brains on Fire wouldn’t have thought of.
And I’m in awe.”
In both cases, The Donnas and Fiskars were smart enough to shift control to their most passionate fans and the people that were most passionate about their products. And in doing so, their efforts were spoken in a voice that resonated with their customers because it was their own. Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba had a great nugget in their book Creating Customer Evangelists, where they said that evangelists know your target market better than you do because they ARE the target market!
Why wouldn’t you want your most passionate fans to promote you?
Coming tomorrow, the third way that rockstars can teach companies how to kick ass with social media; by tapping into the ‘bigger idea’.
BTW if your company would like to learn how to use social media to better connect with your fans/evangelists, please email me.