The foundation of a great audience is meaningful and authentic relationships with people who care about your content. Building long-lasting relationships with your fans is how you get them to keep coming back. The people that you’ve built a real relationship with are the ones that will always buy what you’re selling.

But what does a fan actually look like today? Twenty years ago, a fan would’ve been someone waiting in line to buy your record. Now a fan streams your songs on Spotify, watches your videos on YouTube, likes your tweets, and comments on your Facebook posts. In less than a decade, offline engagement has been replaced in majority by online engagement.

A valuable lesson from Facebook: more growth = more noise.

With the expansion of social media and streaming, creators and publishers have to compete aggressively for attention. Growth inevitably leads to more noise. Organic reach across all platforms continues to decrease, with social metrics becoming less significant in value.

“A ‘like’ on Facebook doesn’t necessarily translate as a fan. It’s a very passive relationship. It’s more important to have the one million diehard fans, than to have 54 million people who aren’t necessarily fans or they might have liked one thing you said, or one video. It’s being able to segregate those audiences and knowing who the super-fans are.” — Troy Carter

In today’s complex web of social and streaming, the key to forming and nurturing fan relationships is data. Data is more than just a follower or like. Data tells you who your fans are, where to reach them directly, and what makes them come back.

The ownership of user data is the single most important value-generating asset for businesses and brands today. If you don’t know how to reach your fans, you’re leaving money on the table. If you don’t know how to find new fans, your growth is stagnant.

Prioritizing a philosophy of capturing and using data about your fans will make your operation smarter, more efficient, and more valuable every day.

Unifying fan data is the first step towards building long-term value for your audience. The truth is that we live in a world of decentralized data. Consumers on separate networks behave, interact, and value your content differently.

Owning a die-hard fan base means you should be able to reach your fans at the right place and right time, regardless of where, when, or how they engage with your content or brand.

For example, bringing together data on your Spotify and YouTube fans provides you the direct marketing ability to target fans on the right channel with the right content. Targeting fans based on how they prefer to listen to your song or where they prefer to buy your product makes it easy for them to make a buying decision.

A direct and personalized approach like this not only delights your fans but also inspires an emotional response. This is how you unlock habitual consumption and repeat conversion.

It’s important to identify and prioritize loyalty. Fans love to feel special. You need to make your fans feel important for being part of something bigger.

RiRi has one of the most die-hard fan bases in the world

Amid thousands of likes, streams, downloads, and views, there are the faithful select. These are the fans who have your album on repeat, who’ll give an arm and a leg to see you live, who’ll tell their friends about every new thing you come out with. Rewarding their dedication builds an immeasurable amount in long-term value on the relationship between you and your fan.

Data about how your fans consume content will help you distinguish the die-hard from the casual consumer. Businesses, brands, and creators that take advantage of this realize incredible success. Amazon’s Prime membership is a stellar example. Amazon’s ability to provide loyal customers with exclusive advantages results in Prime members spending 240% more than other Amazon customers.

To raise your sales out of the flatline of the long tail you need to connect with your True Fans directly. Another way to state this is, you need to convert a thousand Lesser Fans into a thousand True Fans. — Kevin Kelly

Prioritizing loyalty creates a culture that accelerates consumption. In addition, there’s another adverse behavioral effect on fans not wanting to miss out. FOMO is one of the most compelling drivers for viral growth. Creating this kind of avalanche starts from your ability to measure, isolate, and target the fans that value you most.

Knowing who your fans are means that you can communicate with them personally. To reach your existing fans, you not only need the data to message them directly, but also the contextual information to speak to them meaningfully.

Compare an email that’s personally addressed by name to one that isn’t. Similarly, building a conversation by targeting a specific intent or desire can be incredibly powerful.

Consider messaging a fan about a discount on a t-shirt that they’ve been eyeing on your site. With data on consumer intent and preference, you can communicate in a manner that’s human rather than robotic. Data-driven messaging like this will bless you with happy customers who worship your brand.

The most compelling case for owning fan data is to reach and acquire new fans. Social advertising is one of the most effective ways to do this.

Over 2.3 billion people use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram every month. The average person spends 2 hours on these channels daily. Social media is where your fans are.

Armed with quality data, you can get in front of thousands — okay, millions — of new fans who actually care about your content by using lookalike audiences. Lookalike audiences are exactly what they sound like: large groups of real people who look like your existing fans.

The best lookalike audiences are created using a subset of your most engaged fans. Again, identifying fans that are the most loyal, the ones that habitually return to consume your content. Facebook, for instance, performs exceptionally well in finding the right new fans when you tell it what to look for. This is how you can reach millions of new fans cheaply and effectively.

Combine personalized messaging with targeted ads for awesome conversion

Without data, you’re operating in the dark. For decades, creators, brands, and businesses have employed a spray-and-pray mentality. But one-size-fits-all marketing is a thing of the past.

To build lasting relationships with fans today, you need to be able to reach them anytime and anywhere. You need to be able to connect with them personally, build trust, delight them, and keep them coming back. Rich, unified data about your fans will rapidly change the value of your operation and let you build an audience that can stand the test of time.

At ToneDen we can help you get all of the quality data you need to understand exactly who your fans are. Our Facebook advertising solutions and built-in messaging platform can help you directly reach the fans that matter. If you have any questions on building an awesome audience, we’re always here to help. Shoot us an email at

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