The title of this article is a formula, the creation of Mike Masnick from Techdirt — taken from a 15-minute presentation he did at the 2009 MidemNet conference in Cannes. It means:
Reason To Buy
Find a way to engage and connect with people who are into the stuff you do, using your various social media platforms. You have to walk a fine line between genuine engagement and avoiding coming off like a spamming douche, and I’m afraid that is something that cannot really be taught, although I’ll talk about this more in future installments. For now, jut think about every bot-spam link post on Twitter, and don’t do anything that remotely reminds you of that.
Once you’ve managed and are maintaining that connection, give folks a reason to buy from you. At its simplest and most obvious, this reason can be that you have something that nobody else has: the thing you’ve created. It’s the way the business has usually worked — scarcity of physical merchandise. “I have this nifty thing, and you want it.” Yeah, it works — but it’s less of a motivation now, in a world where most things can be digitized, copied and shared with a few clicks of a mouse. (And, briefly, while we’re on the subject — don’t freak out about unauthorized file sharing. It’s going to happen to your stuff. Think of it as an opportunity to convert a new fan. Again, more on this later in the series.)
Try coming up with other reasons — special stuff beyond the thing itself. It helps to understand fan psychology — those things which motivate fans and appeal to them. The best resource I found (through a video of another talk given at the same MidemNet as Masnick’s) was Online Fandom, a blog that covers that very subject, by Nancy K. Baym, a professor of Communication Studies. Baym’s work (and the work of others, which I found through her references) taught me a lot, but also confirmed what, as a fan myself, I already knew: Fans tend to assume a level of ownership of the object of their fandom — they view it as theirs.
If we can give them things which speak directly to that sense of fan ownership and tribal identity, that gives a very compelling Reason To Buy.
Here’s the video of Masnick’s presentation to MidemNet. It’s only 15 minutes, and well worth your time:
(He did an expanded, 30-minute version of the presentation at the Leadership Music Digital Summit, about 3 months later —it’s available on vimeo, if you’ve got a bit more time.)
We’ve spent a couple of entries now dealing with theory, so in the next few I’ll give you some tools that you can use directly to put those theories into action.
Storm the gates!