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Front row for Jack White at the Hammersmith Apollo in London.
Front row for Jack White at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. Photo by Ray Neutron.

What drives a fan?

Replace the word 'fan' with 'expert' and see what happens. Fans are passionate and excitable, with a deep understanding of the artistry.

In music, for instance, these are the consumers who often make up a band’s core constituency, spending money on albums, concert tickets, merchandise and meet-and-greets, and who gather on social media and online forums, which they see as safe spaces where they can talk about everything and form friendships that span the globe.

I have been there: I the fan forums, travelling to other countries just to see my favourite band play, and camping out overnight prior to gigs to ensure the best possible position at the front once the doors are opened. I know the importance of being a fan. I know the joy, camaraderie and community you feel when you bond over the music you love. You become part of something bigger than yourself and go on a collective journey of self-definition.

The same mechanisms are at play if you are a fan of Liverpool F.C., the city of Detroit, the Harry Potter films, or Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

It is time to stop seeing fans as obsessed, mentally unstable, or mad. Instead, we need to highlight and celebrate what it means to be a fan and the impact fans have on whatever it is they champion. It is time we listen when fans say that being a fan gives their life meaning and makes them feel that they belong.

It is time we take fans seriously.



  • Identifying backstory, audience, and goals

  • Focus on experiences and emotions rather than product/service functions

  • Creating compelling narratives, placing the audience at the heart of the story, delivering an emotional visual media experience

  • Using storytelling techniques to entertain the audience instead of interrupting them with sales pitches

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