Creating A Fan Community
As mentioned throughout the main lessons of this training, the Education Phase of the Buddy System takes place almost entirely on social media, before the moment of opt-ing in for email. Not to mention, each fans’ journey through the Education Phase will take more or less energy and time to pass through. Some fans will need many interactions, some fans will be sold the first time they see a video of yours.
Creating a Fan Community such as Facebook Groups or a Discord can be a great place for fans in this phase to dig into your art and ecosystem without needing to commit to handing over personal information such as an email address or phone number. Since your fans may already have accounts on these platforms (and certainly do if you’ve gathered many of them on Facebook), the barrier to entry is extremely low.
Moreover, these fan communities can act as self-sustaining engagement machines that can act as a perpetual turbine in your Education Phase, even when you’re not there to get the party started. Keep in mind that these communities won’t start on their own, so they may not be the right move until you have a clearly sizable and engaged introductory fanbase.
In this lesson, we will look at building a Facebook Group and a Discord Server for your fanbase to serve these exact purposes.
Using Facebook Groups for a Fan Community
Facebook Groups are a pretty obvious choice if you’ve been leveraging Facebook ads to build your fanbase. There isn’t as much barrier to entry here since your fans are used to interacting with you on Facebook and are familiar with the platform.
What’s great about a Facebook Group is that your Facebook artist Page can act as the admin within the group. Setting up a Facebook Group is extremely simple to do - just address each setting and option during the creation process. There are no particular settings to adhere to, though keep in mind you that if you set your Group’s privacy to Private, this will allow you to manually add new members (which you may want to do). If you set it to Public, anyone can join. Make sure you always set your Group visibility to Visible, otherwise no one will be able to find it!
Before you start inviting your fans to be part of your new group you’ll want to establish a set of group rules to keep a sense of safety and order in your community. Some common rules to get your started might be…
- No hate speech, be kind and courteous
- No spam
- No violent or sexually explicit content etc.
The guidelines you set for your community are up to you and what kind of culture you want to create with your fans. You may add to these as your community grows and you learn together what you want and don’t want out of this space.
Ideally, most of the interaction that goes on in this group can be self-sustaining, with you there as a participant and someone that helps keep the momentum going. To do this, it’s helpful to think of some kind of regular schedule for posting or content that makes the group special. You will want to think of one thing that you can do in this group that will only happen in this group so that there is a specific reason to follow you here rather than just on your Facebook Page.
This could be a members only live stream, access to a special offer, or line of merchandise that is only accessible within your fan community. You could also think of a recurring set of conversation prompts, polls, or stories that you share. Whatever thing you settle on, make sure it stays exclusive to this group and fits with the Group’s ethos you’re trying to set.
One more thing you may want to do before launching this group is setting up a survey to get fan opinions and expectations of what should occur in the Group. No one will know how to set up this group better than the people it is benefiting. You could send this survey to your email list and post about it organically to get a decent amount of initial responses.
With all of this decided on, and assuming you have a sizable enough initial audience to populate this group, it’s time to invite them in by sending them to the group link! You might want to ask a couple die hard fans if they would be down to be moderators in your new group. This role may serve a limited purpose, but even if that’s the case, it can be a big point of pride for fans.
As your group kicks off and starts to grow, you’ll want to be sure to actively participate as much as you can in the beginning to keep the momentum going. Eventually though, you should have a community that is entirely fan operated.
Using Discord for a Fan Community
Discord is a chat application where users can create and manage their own server around whatever topics and interests they choose separate from others. A server acts like a sandbox where you and your members can interact. While it’s started out as a community tool for gamers, its popularity has grown and spread to other communities including cryptocurrency, software development, musicians and other creators.
What’s great about Discord is that it’s a bit more transferable than Facebook Groups. It’s a powerful online community building tool with a robust set of features and is fairly easy to set up and use - However, it will necessitate that your fans have another account on yet another platform and be ready to interact on this new platform. It could be the case that most of your fans already have and use Discord actively, meaning this is a great match. Conversely, maybe very few of your fans are on Discord. For this reason, you may want to decide to do both a Facebook Group and a Discord Server.
Basic Overview of Discord
A Discord server is made up of text channels and voice channels. These channels can be organized to serve different types of conversations or topics to keep things orderly, and can also have separate privacy options. You can even create categories for groups of channels that relate to one another. Text channels are pretty standard, but with voice channels you also have the ability to video chat, stream, and screen share.
Discord has a permission system you can use to set up roles and different permission settings for your server, categories, and individual channels. This allows you to get very creative with what level of “access” can coincide with what channels are available to a user.
One thing that sets Discord apart is the ability to add and create your own bots. Bots can be used to automate any number of useful tasks such as welcoming new members, moderating content, and banning any menacing users. Bots have come to be an expected part of Discord and they make it a lot easier to build a successful community without constant supervision!
What’s also great about this platform is its integration capabilities. You can create and schedule events in Discord, connect Discord to Twitch, Spotify, your website, Patreon and more.
Setting Up Your Discord
Starting small with your Discord server is a good idea, especially if you’re new to the platform. One of the benefits of the bots and tech integrations that Discord has is that you can build an expand as necessary - so don’t feel like you need to have a decked out Discord Server on launch day. To start, use just a single Role, a single Bot, and a single category of Channels.
Roles allow you to set specific permissions to any user that has the role. This means you can arrange a complex set of accesses for certain roles. It may not be clear to you at the start what these roles and accesses should look like, but as you add to your Discord based on fan sentiments and interactions, how you should build it out will become clearer.
When it comes to using bots in your server, the sky's the limit. Your need for bots will be more apparent as you run into moments in your server where there are clear inefficiencies or opportunities to automate things. With this being the case, don’t feel like you need to know about every single Discord bot on the planet before launching.
For now, look into a bot like Me6. This is a popular standard bot that is capable of doing a number of things like custom commands, alerts, reaction roles, leveling and gamification just to name a few. This may inspire you to look elsewhere eventually for more bots, but you may find that you never outgrow these simple automations.
In terms of what channels to have in your Discord server, this is also a very open-ended question. You will want to create a meaningful amount of channels so that conversations can be segmented into a useful way, but also not so many channels that many go unused. We recommend setting up two essential channels: a Read-Only Rules channel, and an Announcements channel. Additionally, you may want an introductions or welcome channel.
Aside from those more functional channels, the ones you set up will be up to you. It’s sensible to start with a “general” channel and let the conversation flow. Once you get a sense of additional needs, you can open up new channels such as song shares, fan art, etc.
The benefit of Discord is that you can do a lot to customize and gamify the platform. You can introduce a ranking system that is governed by a bot, you can create custom emojis (and allow users to do so), use animated gifs, etc. Eventually you will want to gain a pulse for some of these things and see which are best for your community as it grows. These elements can allow the community to flourish on its own, especially if you assign moderator type roles to your most Discord-savvy fans.
A fan community built on Facebook Groups or Discord can be an excellent way to automate engagement opportunities in the Education Phase. Fans in the community beget interaction with other fans in the community, and you can also be a regular part of the conversation to continually spur on momentum.
Facebook Groups can be a great community locale because many of your fans are likely generated there, meaning there is a low barrier to entry and an automatic understanding for how the platform works. They are simple to use for the admins as well and are a cool way to make exclusive posts or practices that are not found on your main Facebook Page.
Discord is a robust platform with all sorts of integratable and customizable features. If your fans are savvy with Discord, this is an automatic win - and you can even make some of your best fans moderators/admins of your server to help get you started. This platform has also grown vastly since its inception and become more of an expected community platform online for creators of all kinds.
If you understand the benefits of a fan community and have ideas for how you’d set up your Facebook Group and/or Discord, mark this lesson complete!