Year after year, incredible talent is discovered on singing competitions, such as American Idol, The Voice, and the X- Factor, which broadcast to millions of viewers, giving their contestants an incredible opportunity for exposure. However, once the shows end, the contestants are too easily forgotten by the weekly viewers, and people are left scratching their heads wondering what ever happened to them. After fourteen years of being an avid fan of American Idol, I can too easily list numerous contestants whom I supported and loved on the show and never heard of again once it was over. Not to say that anyone who did not sell millions of records after their time on a singing competition was not successful. Many maintain a career with a small fan base, which is all they may really need. However, ensuring that the millions of fans who tuned in weekly to watch an artist as a contestant continue to stay highly engaged with their post- show careers, can be the difference between selling thousands of records and selling millions.
1. Consider the Audience that the Show Attracts
It is one thing to have thousands of followers on social media who will see the updates which an artist posts, however, solely depending one avenue of marketing may exclude many of the viewers who watched the artist on the show. Social media is an incredible opportunity to stay engaged with a specific category of fans, however, it is only one way to market and should not be solely depended on. As a participant in a competition, one of the most important things to do throughout the season is to consider the demographics of the audience who supported you. Not everyone who supported an artist as a contestant is necessarily active on social media or does not follow the artist, however there is a good chance that they would want to continue supporting them. When an artist chooses to rely on only one form of marketing (i.e. social media), they risk leaving a major percentage of their fan base in the dark, resulting in them being forgotten by their original fans. For example, the average age of viewers watching American Idol in 2011 was 51, meaning that more traditional methods of marketing must be utilized to ensure that awareness about the artist (i.e. releases, live shows, and announcements) are created for that audience.
What You Must Do
In order to ensure that all fans have a source for updates and announcements, it is necessary to create an interactive, attractive, and easy-to-navigate website with all announcements, future shows, and music released. Anyone who may have supported an artist during the competition and is not active on social media should be able to easily find all important and updated information in one place. Artists should also promote their mailing lists to ensure that fans have a method of receiving all important updates without relying on social media or having to constantly revisit their website. Facebook dark posts are an incredible way to advertise mailing lists, as well as any important announcements because they allow an artist to directly target a specific audience. For example, an former contestant on American Idol who has a single or an album coming out, can directly target men and women between the ages of fifteen and fifty who like American Idol. Additionally, if they have an upcoming live show or tour, they can further specify that target audience to a specific area. Facebook is a social platform that artists need to pay more attention to because it attracts a wider range of people and an older audience, meaning that there is a higher chance of fans not on Twitter and Instagram being active on Facebook.
Another strategy can be to build a strong YouTube presence by having a custom channel and providing continuous video updates for fans. This gives people an additional place to go and find updates in a form that is more interesting, captivating, and gives them a reason to come back more often. Additionally, the advantage of doing videos is that the information is more direct to fans, so it will not be passed by or forgotten as easily as information posted to Twitter or Instagram that is lost among other people’s posts. Other methods to ensure that all fans are being updated include the use of billboards, flyers, and if possible, appearances on local radio stations and talk shows. It will never be possible to reach every single person who supported an artist as a contestant on a show, however, broadening marketing techniques to cater to a larger audience will create word of mouth and will naturally spread among fans.
2. Engage Fans
Being active on social media and engaging with fans after the end of a singing competition is vital to keep people interested until original music is eventually released. Once there are no more constant reminders from the show’s producers for contestants to stay active on social media, they tend to use it far less, leaving fans with nothing to keep them interested.
What to Do
Engaging does not mean posting a Tweet and then turning your phone off, artists should Snapchat and Tweet fans back regularly (try using Twitter videos to enhance that experience), look out for fan art to repost or to share, encourage the creation of fan accounts by following the most dedicated fans (however not all of them), etc. Keeping fans engaged will keep them interested, and will slowly and naturally build a community on social media, in which fans will want to support the artist through things like fan accounts, which are extremely powerful.
One of the most important things to do on social media is to assure fans that original music is coming because it will give them a reason to follow that artist or at least check back every now and then. This can be done by posting updates throughout the entire process of the album production, such as snapchats in the recording studio singing, short videos on Instagram playing and singing a short clip of new songs, tweeting lyrics, and posting a countdown as the date gets closer.
3. Do Not Waste Time
Once a singing competition ends, the fans no longer have a TV show to watch weekly, where they have been used to getting updates on their favorite artists. This is the time where the artist must work harder than ever to stay connected with their fans and assure them of ways and reasons to stay in touch on a regular basis. The worst thing that an artist can do is to wait until their debut album or single is released and expect their fans to remember who they are or even care. In addition to being active with fans on social media, an artist needs to ensure that they are giving fans a reason to remain excited and interested by giving them things to look forward to and that will allow them to grow as a fan. The time in between the end of a show and the release of original music should not be a period during which everything is put on pause. This is the time when an artist must focus on investing into the passion of their fans who watched them on the show, and attracting new fans to grow their fan base beyond the people who watched.
An incredible way to do this, is to build a strong YouTube presence, where the artist can post covers, original songs, songs performed on their singing competition, Q&A videos, old periscopes, tour diaries, “behind the scenes” videos, basically anything that allows that artist’s personality to be developed. This allows the artist to engage with fans until original music is released, as well as showing fans their personality through authentic videos. Additionally, it would create a more intimate relationship with fans because the artist would be creating videos specifically for their community versus a show that is broadcasted to millions of viewers. It is evident that “YouTubers” have become extremely popular among millennials, and an artist has the opportunity to attract new fans and increase the passion of their existing fan base by taking the same approach. According to an article written by Susanne Ault and published in Variety, “YouTubers” are sometimes more appealing than mainstream stars because their videos allow them to develop their personalities more easily than traditional celebrities. “Looking at survey comments and feedback, teens enjoy an intimate and authentic experience with YouTube celebrities, who aren’t subject to image strategies carefully orchestrated by PR pros. Teens also say they appreciate YouTube stars’ more authentic and relatable candid sense of humor, lack of filter and risk-taking spirit, behaviors often curbed by Hollywood handlers.” (Susanne Ault, Survey: YouTube Stars More Popular Than Mainstream Celebs Among U.S. Teens).
4. Expand your Fan Base
After a contestant gets eliminated from a singing competition, they have thousands of followers to take advantage of. The next step for that artist is to expand their fan base past the viewers of the television show by getting the attention of the public. In American Idol when the top four contestants do the hometown visits, their entire towns come out to support them whether or not they watch the show. The hype and excitement that is generated from these visits, reach people who are not even fans of the show, however persuades them to support that artist in order to be part of the movement.
If an artist were to organize “meet ups” with their fans right after the conclusion of their singing competition, it could potentially attract hundreds of people. Attracting that large of an audience in a popular area would receive the interest and attention of people passing by, exposing them to an entirely new audience. Additionally, anything that attracts that many fans will attract the media’s attention, exposing the artist to the possibility of getting airplay, interviews, and exposure. It is human nature to want to be a part of things, so if an artist makes it clear that they are creating a movement which many people are passionate about and a part of, people will pay attention.
By Casey Aonso