Building a Community: A Fandom’s Fanatic Fans

Phew. Try saying that three times fast!

There are few things in life I love more than my TV shows. But nowadays what I love more than fangirling over the latest episode are those rare but beautiful moments when my shows interact with each other.

The writers from "Elementary" take on "Sleepy Hollow."

The writers from “Elementary” take on “Sleepy Hollow.”

I’ve mentioned it a few times in another blog post but the use of social media, specifically Tumblr and Twitter, is a great way for TV shows to interact with their fans. (Hint: watch the tags on Tumblr. They’re hilarious.)

The "Hannibal" SMM having too much fun.

The “Hannibal” SMM having too much fun.

I’m sure you’re sitting there thinking, “but Hannah, what does this have to do with building a community?” Excellent question, dear reader! Let me back up a minute and explain.

According to Dino Dogan, author of “How to Build a Community of Fanatics” there are six steps for how one should build a community:

  1. Intention: “You can’t spark a community by wanting to spark a community no more than you could start a fire by wanting to start a fire.” Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your community. Take your time.
  2. Know Your Audience: “I’m a blogger solving my own problem.” Do what you would like done (solving problems, making connections, etc.)
  3. Be a Human: “No one wants to interact with a brand, a logo, a picture of your dog, a cartoon, or worse. Communities are people.” Treat your community as people and they will become loyal.
  4. Customer Service: “People don’t want to be lectured at…They don’t want to be treated like a task on your list.” See #3.
  5. Have Fun: “Your community should have fun participating in that community.” What do you wish your favorite community would do? Do it for the community you manage.
  6. Positioning: “Positioning is shorthand. It’s an easy and quick way for me to figure out what you are or are not.” Make it clear what you are what you’re not.

(Each section has good parts that I left out, so I highly encourage you read through Dogan’s post.)

"Dracula" versus "Hannibal" - the Smirk Off.

“Dracula” versus “Hannibal” – the Smirk Off.

So now you must be thinking, “but Hannah, what does Dogan’s post have to do with your favorite TV shows?” You ask really good questions, dear reader. Let me explain using Dogan’s six steps:

  1. Intention: This one is a little difficult. Yes, the CM and SM teams set out to create a community but they might not have envisioned what it is today. One popular post and it snowballs from there.
  2. Know Your Audience: The writers of Supernatural are probably the first group to do this perfectly. They took a joke between fans, affectionately calling Jared Padalecki a moose, and wrote it into the show. Not only that, every time Padalecki sees something with a moose on it, he takes a picture with it. Exhibit A, B and C.
  3. Be a Human: Having the people behind your favorite TV show interact with another TV show, even one you may or may not like, is not only funny and adorable – it’s good for everyone involved. The watchers of the two shows see it and laugh about how cool their groups are, people who only know one of the shows are more likely to investigate why their TV show is interacting with the other and the people behind the interactions get to have fun and show their human side. It also will get fans to feel safe with you and you’re more likely to get UGC from them if they feel they will be appreciated (speaking of which, Elementary has it’s own tab for fanart).
  4. Customer Service: When it comes to TV shows, there probably aren’t a lot of customer service options that will come up. If anything it’ll be the SM teams answering basic questions: when will the new episode air, where can I catch a re-run etc.
  5. Have fun: This ties in with knowing your audience and being a human. Everyone wants to have fun. People love seeing their favorite things interacting with another of their favorite things. Help make it happen and I can guarantee you that it will win you loyalty and fans.
  6. Positioning: Like Intention, this one is a little more difficult. I guess one could argue that it’s kind of like the disclaimers at the beginning of a DVD that reads, “the views expressed in the following interviews are those of x and have nothing to do with y.” Let your community know what you are and what you’re not.

I hope this helps you think of fun things to do with a community and possibly ways you can make your community better. Let me know in the comments below what your favorite TV show is and if you’ve seen them do anything fun through social media.

I took screenshots of the images above but if you’re interested in following the writers from Elementary, Sleepy Hollow, Hannibal and/or Dracula on Twitter click on their names. To follow them on Tumblr click here, here, here and/or here. To see more photos from the Elementary v Sleepy Hollow writer “feud” click here. To view the Smirk-Off exchange, click here (in the time it took me to write this blog post, another of my favorite TV shows, The Blacklist, joined the Smirk Off).

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