Direct To Fan Marketing, or D2F, is an increasingly prevalent way for bands to reach people who like their music cheaply and with a real sense that they may just buy the band’s record as a result using emerging social technologies.
Direct To Fan Marketing is a strategy for bands to talk directly to their fans (hence the name) through the use of emerging, and increasingly mainstream, social technologies and social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook or even Foursquare.
The way the bands go about this will vary: from offering free downloads by sending an e-mail to fans on their mailing list, or sharing a tweet with a link to a video with their fans by including specific fans of their streams using @xxx, for example. The idea is to give fans the most personal experience that they can get, with the marketing BS stripped out.
“Isn’t this just customer marketing?” I hear you cry. No, the nuance here is the shift from customer to fan.
A customer is someone who already buys, or already has bought, your product.
A fan is someone who is using their band or brand to define their identity, but may not actually participate or buy the product. A good example of this is someone who signs up as a fan of Greenpeace on Facebook, but doesn’t attend any rallies or leave messages on their wall.
My friend and trouble-maker in chief Elliot Pearson, has written extensively about D2F marketing from a band’s perspective, and this has got me thinking as to whether this same model can be effectively applied to traditional consumer brands as part of a PR and marketing strategy.
PR is the crudest form of influencer marketing, you find the journalist who will write about your product and influence the most people. Brands love this as it gives them, in theory, huge exposure often on a national level. It also helps that column inches can be compared against the size of adverts and you can answer: how many people may have seen that article? How many key messages were included? Did we see a spike in sales after the piece?
Social media on the other hand, takes on a form customer marketing. In part this is sharing content with a brand’s customers, and on the other hand it is performing a customer service function. The problem here is that it is difficult to measure – a cool piece of content may not make someone buy your brand’s product as a result.
I believe that we have an opportunity to integrate Direct To Fan Marketing as part of a social media strategy.
By aligning yourself with a brand, such as the Greenpeace example above, you are opting in to receive their communications via your Facebook news feed. This demonstrates you are hapy to hear what is going on in their world.
So why not take this a step further? If a brand knows that someone is a fan on Facebook (how many times more will you hear ‘we need a million fans in a month’ from unsuspecting clients – it’s about who, not how many, remember), the brand knows they want to receive information. The brand can use this nugget to speak with the fans directly, and offer them something in return for their interest in their product or service, be it content or a night out.
This allows fans to become involved with a brand they want to actively show they are involved with, and as a result may go and buy their first product, or strengthen their affinity with the brand.
How is this measurable? We can measure pretty much anything, but remember, that it is what we measure that is important.
I’d start by looking at:
Interactions (both positive and negative) and shifting perceptions (percentage increase in positive comments in proportion to number of total comments)
Demand for event attendance (if you have 50 places and 50 people come to your first event, but have 75 places for a follow up event and 150 people want to come, that’s associated brand involvement trebled!)
Content shares (number of times similar content is shared on Twitter or Facebook)
Downloads of freely available content (MP3s or viedeos)
D2F requires greater resource than customer or influencer marketing as it means taking time to become a trusted and credible member of the fans community. However, it is more worthwhile as it will help to cultivate long lasting fan – brand relationships, which will in turn, lead to more sales over a longer sustained period of time.
What do you think?