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How to build a following of Superfans

Unified Manufacturing this week brought us a discussion on how to turn fans into super fans, treating them as insiders so that they not only buy the music, the merch and attend your shows but also tell other people about your music through word of mouth, social networks and sharing.

It may seem like you are developing a cult of super fans but this is exactly what you need to spread word of your music as quickly as possible.

Here are some tips on how to go about building your superfans, along with some examples -

1. Give Your Fans a Name - Jessie J has her heartbeats & Lady Gaga has her little monsters, often given news, video's and new music first in return for their blind following, tweeting and facebooking about the tracks. You know the fans that are part of the name will buy your music and come to your shows.

2. Tag Fans in Your Panoramic Concert Photos - By tagging a picture from a show with the hashtag of your fans name, they will see this, be able to tag themselves in it and thus share on their walls and come up in their owns friends news feeds on facebook, pushing your reach as an artist even further.

3. Give Approaching Fans Your Undivided Attention - On a train to a gig? downtime in the studio? Back of a car? Do not waste this time, go through your twitter '@s' and reply to as many fans as directly as you can, they'll appreciate it, feel more of an affiliation with you and will increase the chance of them being a superfan.

4. Always Have [Cheap] Merch Handy [For Free Giveaway] - A badge or plectrum may mean nothing to you but if a fan receives it from you after seeing you in the street and having their pic it will mean the world to them.

5. Share Dark Secrets on Your Blog - Letting your fans know your hopes, dreams, and aspirations will help you to come across as human, just like them, the likelihood is that they may share the same thoughts, understand your music better and turn from a fan into a superfan.

6. Send Special E-mails - Updates to your fans besides just trying to get them to go to your show or buy your music will be appreciated, running competitions or or prizes for fans, offering something only they can get will heighten their appreciation and justification of being in your inner circle of fans.

7. Develop Shared Symbols - Similar to the naming of the superfans, having a recognised symbol that they know is yours and that they too can use helps bring the fan and artist closer together.

8. Use Loyalty-based Apps to Connect to Your Fans

9. Play in Smaller Venues - There's no reason why in a lot of instances you can't do 2 or 3 gigs a night in smaller venues to connect better with your audience. It also means you can target a lot more people, playing 2 or 3 packed venues a night rather than 1 sparse one. Further down the line you can also do smaller venues to promote album launches as Usher is doing with his later effort.

10. Stay on Your Merch Table - Meeting, interacting with the fans will not only put you higher in their estimations, it will also encourage them to come over to the merch table and purchase

11. Conduct Live Webcast - Ustreaming an acoustic performance from the studio or bedroom, answering questions or streaming a gig live means people can still see you if you were unable to get tickets and also, in the case of the Ustreaming, lets them into your lives

12. Showcase Them In Your Music Video - The video for Tribes' single last year 'We Were Children' saw them playing a gig on a rooftop in Camden. They let their fans know about it, they got a free gig and were able to be part of a music video that has since racked up hundreds of thousands of views.

13. Post [Photos of] Their Gifts on Your Website and Social Networks - sharing something that another fan has sent into you such as a picture will increase the human element and feel they know you more on a personal level