Here’s the thing about the holidays. It’s so easy to get caught up in the chaos of it all — the planning, the buying, the stress around the planning and the buying. Before long, we lose sight of the real magic; the being together. The holiday season celebrates our friendships, our family, the things that we hold close.
Not to sound too much like a Hallmark movie, but the holidays are meant to be about sharing time with friends and family and expressing appreciation for the joy they bring to your life. And as musicians and music industry professionals, we got lucky, because the second we stepped foot into the music industry we inherited a second family; the community of peers we work with, artists we admire and the fans that support us.
After all, who understands this crazy and amazing business more than those of us that are in it too?
So when it comes to the chaos of the holiday season, I invite you to turn that into an opportunity as opposed to a hitch. If you’re up for a challenge and looking for something fun to try, here are a few ways you can make your fans’ holiday season special, using the extent of your social media network.
1. Try a Secret Santa
If you’re a little more established and have a very tight knit fanbase, running a Secret Santa within your fan network can be a really fun way to create a community atmosphere and bond between your fans (and you).
It doesn’t have to be super complicated, just put up a post asking who would like to participate, and make the gift limit something reasonable so fans know they won’t be expected to spend a fortune. Then, you organize a Secret Santa just like you would in person, using the fans that signed up, and connecting one another yourself.
Then of course, if you want you can take it a step further and send everyone who participates a little secret gift to reward them. Fun, right?!
2. Throw a Virtual or In-Person Show
I guess we’re not totally out of the COVID-19 pandemic just yet, but at least nowadays we’ve got options!
But whether it’s online or offline, themed shows are always a blast. And that’s especially true around the holidays, because you can utilize lights, colors, and decor. One idea is to draft a setlist that includes holiday classics (or write your own holiday songs). Another is to create a piece of holiday themed merch for sale. You can even bake cookies or cupcakes in the shape of snowmen for fans.
If you’re doing virtual, don’t fret! You can create all the same decorations in your home, adding lighting to really set the festive mood, and you can still sell holiday themed merch through your website, play covers, etc. You can also invite your fans to chime in by holding a VIP hour before the show, and invite guest bands to “open” virtually.
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3. Write an End of Year Letter
For all the posting we do on social media, sometimes I feel like we don’t really say anything. We’re all trying to write the perfect post, capture the perfect moment, or hustling to make sure our music gets heard. Somewhere in all of that we can often lose our vulnerability and become a bit mechanical and rehearsed.
The holidays are the perfect time to pull back the curtain and remind your fans that you’re a real, living human being who is appreciative of them. And a great way to do that is by writing a letter to your fans that comes from the heart, and send that out to your email list. You can, of course, also post it to your social media accounts, but make sure it’s genuine and not something targeted for likes and shares.
It’s a small gesture but one that will leave a lasting impression.
4. Watch a Movie Together (or Any Other Activity)
In lieu of a show (or perhaps in addition to one) you can do a group activity with your fans, such as a movie night or watch party. Invite them to vote on which movie they want to watch and then screen it in person or online, or simply choose something like a holiday classic and invite them to comment on it via a Reddit or Discord thread.
Another idea is to set up a “book club” type meetup on Zoom where you and your fans can chat about your impressions of the film, book, TV show, etc. Other things this works with: Musical cooking classes, gingerbread house construction projects, puzzling, teaching a new song, decorating the tree, etc.
Not sure which to pick? Poll your audience and let them choose! That brings me to…
5. Ask Them What They Want Most
If you’re still getting to know your fans, sometimes it’s best to simply ask what it is they want around the holidays, and then find a way to deliver on that. For instance, maybe you think they want new merch but when you run a poll on IG stories or DM your top 10 fans, you find out they really want an acoustic version of an old song.
Don’t be afraid to simply ask. Sometimes it’s the best route forward.
+ Read more on Flypaper: “Considering the Impact of NFTs on the Music Industry.”
6. Make Digital Holiday Cards and Send Them Out
This is kind of two ideas in one. Since we’re talking about social media here, it’s not so important to go through the trouble of printing hundreds of cards, finding out your fans’ addresses and then mailing them all out. Instead, create a few different card designs and use them in different ways to make sure everyone in your network gets to enjoy them.
For example, you can create a general one that you post on your socials, but then send personalized ones in DM or email to your biggest fans, those who have purchased something from you in the last year. You can do an “advent calendar” type thing where you post a number of different designs throughout December (maybe each band member gets to design their own, etc.). You can create a Reel on Instagram or a bunch of Stories that lead up to a full card, unfurling a poem line by line or an illustrated comic strip or something.
No matter how you do it, sending your fans a holiday card is a beautiful way to let them know you’re thinking of them.
When it comes to making your fans’ holiday special, there are so many different ways to create lasting memories and truly make an impact. We just scratched the surface here, but the more you dig into your specific brand and the DNA of your fans, the more ideas will surface.
Which one are you thinking of trying?
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