At its core, true fandom is about identity. It’s about forging an emotional connection with fans, and strengthening that bond until your work becomes an essential part of who they are.
That’s no easy task, obviously. But one of the few surefire tactics here is to give your people a name.
Star Trek’s got the Trekkies. The Grateful Dead have the Deadheads. Roam Research has the #roamcult.
In my work in the filmmaking niche, I call my people filmpreneurs.
And on this site, I’m playing with the idea of the “Ungated Creator” (not sure if that’s pithy enough, though).
Once someone willingly adopts a label for themselves, it becomes self-reinforcing.
They start acting more in line with your brand’s values. They start congregating with others who share the label. And yes, they generally start spending more money with you.
Even more exciting, these labels often take on a life of their own. They spawn organic communities that operate completely outside of your direction.
Now, a few additional guidelines for making this work.
First, make sure it’s catchy. This goes without saying, but it helps if your community name rolls off the tongue, and is fun to say.
Next, tell people what it means. People are more likely to adopt a label if it taps into a deeper purpose or story. Or if it’s tied to some core values and beliefs.
Remember, the goal is for people to feel emotionally bonded to this name. So make it clear that this is no ordinary distinction. It’s reserved for the true believers.
And finally, once you’ve got a name, repeat it, again and again, until it begins to catch on and spread organically.