Last week I got the pleasure of being able to watch a short film created by social media agency, Amplify, based around the theory of ‘FanCulture’. You’re probably wondering what fan culture is around about now, well it is a theory researched by the guys at Amplify which seeks to dismantle the interwoven pieces of Fandom – looking at how every day people idolise pop stars, actors and authors – to how in modern day, through the use of social media, people are becoming increasingly more enthusiastic and passionate towards brands. The questions raised in the film include: Is there a formula to creating fans? How much can fans be worth to a brand or rather how much should a brand be worth to fans?
There are many social media “gurus” who’ll be able to tell you several different formula to creating fans, but most of the time they are just referring to a ‘like’ or a ‘follow’. These in theory could be dismissed as true fans and viewed more as an acknowledgement of that brands existence. The ‘like’ and ‘follow’ numbers can be seen as a very misleading figure to many people and especially to the more cynical of us, a misrepresentation of that brands influence. Many companies are now jumping on to the social media band-wagon with no indication on how to measure their success or how to view the data they’ve been given, so because of this the number of ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ are the only figure heads within the companies look at. With the growing number of companies being mislead by this there has been a large number of companies appearing offering you to ‘buy your fans’, this is great if all you want are some impressive numbers but if you’re actually serious about social media this will harm your brand due to the fact that they aren’t genuine fans of the brand, they have little to no affiliation to it and nine times out of ten they have no interest in what you’re talking about so they will leave just as quick as they came.
FanCulture looks at how brands can make those people who have an affiliation to them more than just a consumer or ‘like’, how can they get them to fully interact and how they can get them to become a dedicated follower. For example, Justin Bieber has 22,480,515 followers whilst Coca-Cola has only 546,411 followers.
I think we’ve all now come to realise that Justin Bieber has one of the largest fanbases in music history and I’m willing to bet the vast majority of those followers are fans, people who buy his music, watch him on TV and stand up for him in an argument over who is better, him or Miley Cyrus – but Coca-Cola have only a fraction of followers and probably even less fans which when you think that Coca-Cola sell 1.2 billion servings of Coca-Cola soft drinks consumed daily around the world, you’d think they’d have slightly more fans.
How does Coca-Cola turn all those consumers in to their fans? Or is it even worth it seeing they have already got such a strong hold on the drinks market? Admittedly, they it would be near impossible and completely unrealistic to assume that they would turn every consumer of Coca-Cola in to a fan, but there is a way to create and build on a small group of fans.
The film demonstrates this with the slightly eccentric Seamus Waldron, owner of the blog ilovemarmite.com. This blog was built out of Seamus’ love for Marmite and what he could do with it, the memories it gave him from points in his life and how creative it made him. Marmite have never officially made a statement to say that this is a PR site for their company, but Semus states on the film that Marmite have always approved what he has had to say about their brand, even in public domains such as TV, The New York Times and his own blog. He doesn’t always agree with their products but the vast majority of the time he loves them and because of this, Marmite see him as one of their fans and the everyday voice of their fanbase. By letting Seamus do what he loves and letting him be as creative as he likes with their brand he possibly generates more PR for the brand than Marmite does for themselves. This type of fan should be seen as invaluable to the brand as they are happily promoting the brand without them having to lift a finger, just as Justin Biebers fans would with their friends – I’d also imagine they have a similar tag line to them!
So ultimately FanCulture is what brands should now be looking more towards how they can create a fanbase and how they can build on it rather than how quickly can they get ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ then panicking because they don’t know what to do when they’ve got them there. That’s not to say it wouldn’t be impossible – but no-one started big and got bigger, everyone started small somewhere along the line.