[This post was written by guest contributor brian botkiller.]
Fan forums are still a very viable way to interact with your fans on the Internet, despite the fact that social media has taken over so much of our everyday interaction with those that listen to our music. In this article, I’ll give you an idea of how you can use those forums to communicate and interact with your fans.
Find where you’re being talked about
To find where your fans are talking about you on the web, you’ll want to start by searching your band or artist name. This will kick up a lot of results, so you’ll want to refine a bit. You can refine a search in Google by adding modifiers to your search, so if I wanted to search for my name and any results relating to a forum, I would search for “brian botkiller + forum.” This would return results that included my name, plus websites with the word forum included. Another way to do this is to search Google using search terms such as:
Brian botkiller +”powered by vbulletin”
Brian botkiller +”powered by phpbb”
Brian botkiller +”powered by ipb”
The quotation marks in the search term will mean that I will return results which exactly match the text in-between them. The three I’ve mentioned here are some of the more popular forum platforms, but you can enter anything you’d like here. This will allow you to track forums which mention your name.
Power tip: use Google search alerts to run these searches daily and have them emailed to you. To do this, go to http://www.google.com/alerts and create new alerts using these search terms; they’ll be mailed to you daily, so you can follow up constantly!
Engage with those talking about you
If you’ve found some conversations about your band on the web, you can now begin to engage with those talking about you. Visit the site you’ve found yourself mentioned on, and create an account – preferably one that uses your band name, so that you will be recognized.
Now, find the threads (conversations) mentioning you, and choose with whom to engage. Remember: there will always be someone (more than likely) who doesn’t like you or your music, and they may have said so in a forum. Sometimes they’re called trolls (if they’re being rather inflammatory).
It’s not usually worth arguing with someone, as you’ll come off as a bully, when you’re usually dealing with a bully already. Rather, kill ‘em with kindness – if someone doesn’t like what you do, just say, “Hey, thanks for listening to us!” That’ll usually defuse a bad situation pretty quickly.
The more important thing here is to pay attention to those who are saying they enjoy your music, by telling them thank you, and offering them a free download, sending them a sticker, or some other way of making them feel like a superstar supporter. This will make you stand out from the many bands that a fan can potentially enjoy, and they’ll remember you and be more apt to purchase your music in the future! Use the direct or personal message features of a forum to get directly in touch with someone.
What to do if you’re not being talked about?
Let’s say that you don’t find forums mentioning you; that’s ok! You can start the conversations yourself.
There is an important rule here, though, and that is, don’t come out guns blazing! If you find a forum that has conversations about the type of music you make, don’t make your first post a post about how great you are. This will put people off you because they’ll think you’re only self-promoting. Take some time talking to those who are already on the forum, and move up from there to mentioning your music and what you do. Those that are interested in what you do will start to talk to you, and could be new fans!
Finding and making fans on web forums
The bottom line when engaging with fans on web forums (and almost anywhere, really) is to talk not only about yourself, and to talk about some of the things that they also enjoy. This will allow you to get a better understanding of what your fans really like, and if you make yourself accessible, your fans will love conversing with you.
Good luck, and have fun out there!
Brian botkiller is an electronic musician and drummer who endorses DDRUM, Ahead Drumsticks, and Presonus Audio Electronics. He trains musicians on music-making at OBEDIA and can be found at brianbotkiller.com