How To Build A Superfan

Below You Will Find A Detailed Manual On Each Step Of This Process

OK so you might have heard a lot of people saying that you need to be on social media “engaging” with your fans, but the mission of this lesson is really to show what on earth that means, the practical steps of how you can do it each day, and the benefit it’s going to have for your music promotion.

Engagement is sort of an overused term, but it really means, “did the thing you just posted make people react and do stuff?”…(such as liking your post or commenting) if not then your thing ain’t engaging and you have to try again.

But that’s cool because tickets are free on the social media merry go round!

So let's get into it, you can click on and exspand each topic below for easy access.

First off... WHY Should You Even Bother? +

This is a question that was also bouncing in and out of my head for a while until I discovered “Check Move Theory”

This concept (developed by the awesome Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson) tells us that the more positive interaction fans have with the artist, the closer the subconscious connection will be…

…and that will ultimately lead to more support, whether that be financial or just help with promotion bringing in new fans by word of mouth.

I think this is an especially powerful idea for musicians because it means we don’t have to hammer the fanbase with slightly cheesy sales messages anymore, and we can just focus on putting out super-duper stuff that they want to interact with…

Bonus Coolness: Turns out that “Dr Mike” is a very cool dude and agreed to give you a free copy of his book. All you got to do is email him and ask for it here michael [at] schoolofthinking [dot] org

Is There A Trick To Doing This? You Betcha! +

…and that trick is to fire up YouTube and watch a bunch of Rockumentaries…try searching “Behind The Music” and you’ll soon get a feel for what kind of content works.

In fact don't bother because I already found a whole bunch for you HERE*

It’s usually stuff about how the project got started, moments of drama the musician faced and interviews with the key players.

Along with a killer soundtrack of course.

You can make similar stuff yourself with a very low budget, and each time a member of your audience watch, read, listen or comment they move another step up the ladder to SUPERFAN status.

It’s probably not a good idea to get too over-ambitious with a two hour long feature film or something…you’re best off to produce your own Rockumentary in bite-sized chunks.

In fact for our goals short snappy content is often better than a long lingering epic because you can produce your things quickly and drip feed it out to your crowd. They’ll get in the habit of regularly looking at something new from you because they know it will be high quality, brighten up their day and they don’t need two hours (and a bucket of popcorn) to get through it.

Over the years this kind of consistency will mean you really build up a fantastic body of work and get a feel for the kind of content that rises above the rest and gets shared around like candy.

The Santa Theory: Another cool mindset you can approach this with is to think of yourself as a “Year Round Santa” so that fans know when you show up they are always going to get something cool.

Your First Action Step Is “CAPTURE” +

Or in other words, get a smart phone and press record a lot…

…because often you can entertain your gang by just bringing them into your world, and making content based around what you’re already doing.

Take photos, make videos and record audio, capture capture capture…the modern mobile telephone (or tricorder as they have become) is a whole little studio in one.

The way this might look for a band on the road is that each member would be capturing the wild ride from their own point of view and posting it to dropbox, and then the social media dude edits all the best bits for posting.

(Of course if you’re on a budget the “social media dude” could simply be Bob the crazy drummer who likes playing with the computers)

But for some even that might seem like a little bit too much hard work, so in that case run a competition to have one of your die-hard fans come on the road with you to capture all the cool behind-the-scenes happenings.

This is great if you really do feel you’re a little long in the tooth to start messing around with Facebook yourself.

For an amazing example of this check out Ozzy Osbourne’s Facebook Page


Seeing your journey from a fans point of view will mean they’re in a great position to know what’s going to be interesting and relevant.

Give them access all areas status, and tell them to “never stop shooting”.

They can be doing interviews, editing videos, posting Tweets and Facebook updates FOR YOU, and again because they are a superfan it makes sense that they will be excited to do it and in the very best position to know what the next post should be about.

(You should obviously check in once in a while to make sure you like what’s going out)

When you find someone who’s fun to be around and does an amazing job HIRE THEM full time, they’ll be like your new virtual roadie doing all the social media heavy lifting for you so treat them good.

It’s also a good idea to mention them on stage and in a couple of interviews because then they get a little famous and their updates will have even more impact.

BOOYARR…you’ve just created a totally hands off (but world class) digital content strategy…and it did not hurt one bit…here’s your lollypop…

Remember…you really don’t need to get all hollywood with this stuff and removing the mental barrier of always having a film crew on hand will usually allow you to produce more content.

In fact the HD movie camera you get in an iPhone these days would have cost you $20,000 just 5 years ago!

(Now obviously I made that figure up because I’m in the flow and don’t have time for silly old research…but I’m sure I heard something like that :-))

There is an old phrase in photography that “the best camera is the one you’ve got with you ”, so when you sense that something cool is about to happen let her rip! Steven Spielberg can stay in his bed made of money because there is a new director in town!

Key Idea: With this plan you don’t have a bunch more crap on your to-do list, just record the cool interesting stuff that’s already happening …because if you’re not doing this right now all those epic moments and stories are just slipping into the history books without anyone ever hearing about them.

Tears :====

Less Is More On Social Media +

Recently I’ve gone on a social media diet…

…so rather than trying to be on every new website in town, I decided to mainly be on ONE so that I could really do an awesome job taking care of my crowd. 

This is another example of the “Power of One” which tells us that when you simplify and focus your impact is magnified making everything you do more effective.

If you want to do like me you have to ask yourself where do you fans hang out?

My decision went something like this…

“Hmm…some of them are on Twitter, some on YouTube and a few even use Google+

But nearly all of them use Facebook…”

So that was that…

Now obviously it’s up to you where you decide to hang your hat, but my best advice is that you pick one channel of communication and be all over it.

I’m still going to have an account on Twitter and YouTube posting popular updates…that way I figure that’s pretty much covering all the bases, but if you really want to get down and dirty with my adventures Facebook is going to be the place.

Although this IS fluid and when another social media giant comes and takes over the world I’ll probably switch because we need to be where the people are right.

A good way to keep up with this is the Add This sharing tool and their stats on which services had most people sharing content in the last 90 days. (shown below)

… if lots of people are sharing stuff it’s good for you.

Here is the most up to date information >>

Another cool thing about Facebook is that like a billion other people in the world you’re probably already pretty good at using it, so if you’re ever stuck wondering what to post to your public page you can just look at what’s popular on your personal timeline and cherry-pick the best stuff that would be interesting and engaging for fans as well.

Where Does Email Fit Into This? +

We’ve been talking about Facebook a lot in this lesson , so I wanted to just rewind a little bit and remind you that the MAIN channel to connect with fans is EMAIL. (which might seem like an odd thing to say in a social media lesson but stick with me)

Now there are many reasons for that but mostly because clever people have done loads of testing to show that a direct email is still far more powerful than a social media post…

…but more importantly this is what’s working for me so all I can do is suggest the same for you.

The Facebook page does not replace email, it’s actually the icing on the cake!

First lollipops, now cakes…I think you’ll agree that this module is proving to be pretty delicious so far :-)

In the past an email newsletter could start to get pretty one-dimensional, corporate and stuffy, but right now we’re going through the “humanization of business” and as music people we need to be all over this like a rash…

…and everything we’re doing on the social side of things is designed to take that one-dimensional version of your marketing and make it 3D and beautiful.

The benefit of that is basically building the power of your email list.

So if there are two bands with 10,000 email subscribers each and one of them is following the social media plan, and the other just sends an email when they have something to sell it make sense that the smart socially savvy band is going to wield more power with that list.

We’ve already learned that good email marketing is “like a bank” and your Facebook page allows you to make investments really easily.

Bottom line is that if someone is getting your emails and following your social updates they’re typically going to take even more Check Moves which is the whole point of doing this stuff in the first place.

The Connection Plan In Detail +

So to be real clear, below is a process you might follow having just spent a good amount of time and effort producing something (to the very limits of your ability) that you think fans are going to love…

If your thing is text based:

  1. Fire up Aweber or whichever email provider you’re using and you can put the text right there in the email. (Any additional steps you have in the process will mean less people will take action)
  2. Before sending post the content to your Facebook page as well.
  3. Embed that on your site. (full details on that later)
  4. Now create a link in your email to tell people “if they have comments they can click to add them on the Facebook post”.
  5. Send the email.

If your thing is video or audio:

  1. Post it to your Facebook page either by direct Facebook upload or posting a link from YouTube or Soundcloud.
  2. Embed that post on a page of your website. (full details on that later)
  3. Write a short email giving a compelling reason why people should take some precious time out of their day to watch your new thing.

For extra bonus points you should block out “an hour of power” to jump in and personally answer comments, because if people see that you respond they will get in the habit of posting.

And each time they make a comment their friends will see it in the news feed as well, so it’s all good in the hood.

(You don’t need an hour of power for each post, just the special things that took you a long time to produce)

Note: Whenever you post something really cool to your Facebook page make sure that you’re reminding people they can head over to the fan-catcher page and sign up for your epic freebie as well. It's just a good habit!

Another Note: The bigger evergreen content (like a slice of your Rockumentary or a new album) will also go into the membership site which everyone on the email list has access to. You want to allow folks to revisit their favourite stuff without getting lost in the ether of your Facebook timeline.

For right now I believe this is going to be the MOST effective plan and cover all the bases…

  • First of all because you’re posting content to the site that we already know is the top viral place on the web.
  • Second because the people who don’t read email very much will still see what you’re up to in the Facebook news feed.
  • Third it allows you to post all kinds of beautiful multimedia type content that is “check move bait” to solidify the interest of your audience.
  • And finally if you have something that you want the whole crowd to see you can embed the post directly on your website and even run a promoted post through Facebook.
What About Blogging? +

You might also be wondering if we still use a blog?

And the answer to that is YES, but while we’re building your audience we take those blog posts and offer them to already popular sites for guest blogging opportunities.

(See the Guest Blogging module for more info)

The more you do this the bigger your email list will get and that will increase the impact of each and every update you deliver to your own email list.

You could start your own blog at some point if that appeals to you, but when you do you’ll be able to skip the months of radio silence asking yourself “what’s the point of writing my best stuff on here when nobody even knows I exist?”…because you’ll already have an audience ready and waiting.

Wondering What To Post? (Here's A Big ol' List Of Ideas)

Right then, having gone through the lessons above you should now have a firm grasp on the WHY? and HOW? of this whole process... now it's time for the moment you've all been waiting for (I hope) because I’m going to remove all the head-scratching from your social media marketing by giving you a set of tried and tested posts ready to go.

No more chitter-chatter required… let’s get on with it.

Check Move Ideas +

1. Behind the music - let people in on your wild ride in the biz…first band, first song, first guitar, first love (ok maybe not), challenges and setbacks, magic moments and plans for the future.

To do this get a piece of paper and draw a picture of yourself as a just born baby on the left hand site, then draw a picture of yourself last week on the right. Now fill up all the space in the middle with all the epic stuff that’s happened to you during that time.

…you don’t have to make a whole movie in one go. Bite-sized pieces will actually work better for holding interest.

2. Cribs - make a video to show folks around your home town and even your house if that don’t feel weird.

Travel to important landmarks in your career like where the band got together, or where you performed your first successful stage dive. If you can’t be bother to actually leave your house you could do this using Google Street View ;-)

3. Interviews with every cool person you meet along the way - producers, managers, your crazy bassist, other bands, family, friends, fans, the sound man, tour manager and the driver who never seems to sleep.

WARNING: There is a 93% chance this video will make you laugh, so if you’re at work maybe watch it later!

4. In the studio during recording sessions - awesome method of keeping fans in touch while you would normally be off the radar.

5. Video diary updates when you’re on tour - where you’re playing, how the shows are going, which band member is starting to make you crazy and reviews of the accommodation.

6. Backstage - dressing room shenanigans, the after-show party…and even that particularly tasty treat you got on the rider.

7. Live footage from your latest gigs - there is a cool tool called “Switch Cam” which will turn your whole crowd into one big massive film crew and then you can come back later and make a wicked movie using all those different viewpoints. It’s the future baby!

8. Sound check video - you might think that seems a little boring and honestly I would agree with you but they seem to get a ton of views so once you got your fanbase rocking there should be interested people who will appreciate it.

9. Show people around your gear and how you get your EPIC sounds.

10. Live from the merch booth meeting the fans.

11. Sneak peek clips of brand new tracks from the practice room.

12. Music from your past - dust off those demos you made when you were a kid or in an early band. I think it’s cool to show people how you got to where you are now musically. Don’t be bashful about it!

13. Acoustic versions of popular songs.

14. Covers by you - interesting arrangements of music you love.

15. Covers by fans - post a little “guitar lesson” for one of your most popular songs and then challenge fans to come up with the BEST COVER.

16. Karaoke Version - so folks can blast it out at a party. (Undercover way to have people spread the word about what you’re doing)

17. The “Making of” your video directors commentary - like the extras on a DVD. This would basically be a couple of key players talking about how the whole thing came together.

18. Outtakes and Bloopers from your recording session and video shoot.

19. Go thrift shopping - for weird and wonderful stage clothes (or props) and document the whole adventure on video.

20. Keep a songwriting diary - ask for feedback and new ideas. Turns your fanbase into a giant musical mastermind group!

21. Song-meanings and inspiration - if that does not feel too personal.

22. Say Thanks - make a real personal video to thank fans when you reach important milestones in your career. Jackie Chan did this when he got 50 million Facebook likes.

Just look at the way he pops up…CLASSIC!

23. Make a roundup video each week - of anything you see online that makes you laugh, cry or wet your knickers with joy. There is a killer tool called Feedly that will allow you to track all your favorite sites and people in one easy place. Thanks Feedly!

24. Host an “Ask Me Anything Event (or online open mic session) using Google Hangout.

25. Chat To A Superfan

26. Use Screen R to show your recording and mixing process over the shoulder.

27. Bring a camera along anytime you’re doing something cool on radio or TV.

28. Low budget skits like Jackass – not for everyone but can be really cool “off-topic” stuff if you’ve got a hyperactive funny-bone.

29. Share your excitement when cool stuff happens – you get a killer show, amazing review, mention on twitter or massive radio spot…jump on video and share the joy!

Check out how fun the excitement of this kid is…

31. Handwritten Lyrics - the video below was created by a fan of the wonderful Imogen Heap, but you could dig out the lyrics from your original songbook and do the same. Imagine how cool it would be if your favourite muso did this.

32. Post a set of photos with a killer soundtrack - the dude below took a picture of himself everyday for 10 years!

But YOU could make a “Ten Years in the Music Business” video or even bug your Momma for a bunch of baby photos.

33. Every cool tune should have some kind of music video, even if it’s real simple - below you’ll find something I made with no budget in just a few hours.

Note: Moving forward I’ll be making mostly “fans create the footage” music videos because then the Check Move factor goes through the roof!

BONUS: Embed Facebook Posts for a Massive Boost +

I recently started the new Facebook page for my latest project and have be warming up with a few simple posts to get the ball rolling.

Then I got a message from Facebook telling me “Well done, the post you just made was 95% better than all your others, would you like to promote it with an ad?”.

Anyway, all I did was use the new embed feature that allows you to post Facebook updates to your own site, then I sent an email to my list suggesting they check it out.

Read that again...I posted it ON MY OWN I'm in control of how it shows up.

The reason this worked so well is that if focuses people on the most important thing you want them to look at, and because you’re in control of where the email list is directed you don’t need to worry about Facebook not showing your post in the news feed.

Also once Facebook sees that the post got a lot of comments and likes they should show it to more people naturally.

Below is how you find the Embed option on Facebook posts...this will give you the code that you need to paste into your site.

And here is the live page >>

It started of life as a Christmas prezzy for Wifey 🙂

Now You Gotta Do Something!

OK so now we're at the end of this module you got two options:

The first is to close this page and think...

“hmm...ain’t that Ben Sword a cool and sexy mofo, he gave me a ton of ideas that I really should use one day and I must buy him lots of beer next time he’s in town...ha ha ha look at those funny talking cats dancing on YouTube...what was I doing again?”

Now apart from the beer thing, that ain’t going to do you any good.

So the only option you should really consider is taking me up on the following challenge...

Just pick one thing from the list and do it right now, and give yourself an hour to complete it.

Often work will swell to the amount of time you allocate so setting a real short deadline like that means you’ll be really action focused and proactive.

Then if you're feeling brave do the same thing tomorrow...and for the next 30 days until you got the habit locked in for the rest of your career.

Being that consistent will pretty much guarantee you find an audience at some point.

It’s like a law of nature or something.

Sure, what you produce at first might be crappy and that’s totally cool, in fact that’s what’s supposed to happen...

...but after a while making great stuff will be just like eating maple syrup and bacon pancakes with a thick Oreo cookie milkshake...EASY!

Or in other words...the sooner you start making a lot of stuff the sooner you'll get there, but if you only do one thing a year then you'll be 123 years old before anything you do goes viral.

So good luck, I’m rootin for ya’ and please do contact me if you got questions because I’ll be making followup lessons.