‘Those fans bring in more fans’: Levellr’s CEO Tom Gayner on why community is crucial
When you turn your fans into superfans, you build a community. And in a true community, value goes both ways. Here at Levellr we've seen time and again that any music artist, sports team or brand can level up from social media by building a happy, healthy collective of passionate and engaged superfans.
Levellr specialises in helping brands do just that. At a recent industry conference, Levellr CEO and co-founder Tom Gayner explained how.
Speaking at 2023’s Sandbox Summit organised by industry publication Music Ally, Tom summed up the difference between social media and the messaging apps where Levellr builds community. "Traditional social media is broadcast media," he explained. "Community is when all members of the community can add value. WhatsApp, Telegram, Discord are all community."
A motivated and engaged army of superfans in a dedicated space drives real results for any artist, sports team or brand. "What we’ve seen with Discord is that those fans become micro-influencers and evangelists," said Tom. "Those fans bring in more fans."
In the onstage discussion, Tom joined leading voices from Warner Records and streaming distributor Amuse. They all agreed on the importance of two-way communication and listening to fans. "People like to be seen," said Tom. In return, fans are rewarded with exclusive access and rewards, like when Fred again.. drops concert tickets specially for his Discord fam.
Levellr has helped huge artists like Fall Out Boy launch brand new, dedicated safe space communities. But the beauty of Discord is that an artist can get in on the action wherever their fans are already hanging out. Tom highlighted Maisie Peters, who discovered an existing 2,000-strong fan server and signed up. Fans were delighted to have their favourite artist join them, and when Levellr came on board Maisie's team were able to use advanced tools to develop the community even further.
From artists like Maisie and Fred again.. to major brands like Starbucks, any brand can see real results in community-building. Levellr's useful tools help artists see what their fans are streaming, by connecting Discord to Spotify and presenting that information in a dashboard. Levellr also offers an e-commerce dashboard and integrations to monetise the community through merch and ticket sales.
In return for exclusive content and rewards, fans provide the brand with a treasure trove of community-generated content. Inviting fans to get involved by sending in photos, voice notes and more, artists like Fred again.. and Leigh Anne Pinnock weave their fans' creativity into their art and even their music.
One key way to get superfans involved is to recruit fans as part of the moderation team. Tom emphasised that launching a community without a moderation team is a "worst-case scenario", as a lack of engagement by the artist or brand can see the community wither before it's got started. But with Levellr training, tools and support, fan mods are a huge asset to any team. They have their finger on the pulse of the community, can tread lightly among their peers, and above all help keep the community happy and healthy without a time-consuming commitment by the artist and their team.
Tom noted it's important not to try and force community to happen. But the results are obvious. Thanks in no small part to the passionate superfans in her popular Discord server, Maisie Peters clocked up a fast-selling tour and a No. 1 album, The Good Witch.
Levellr provide brands with strategies, tools and systems to build, grow and optimise a community. But Tom and the team know that it all comes down to a simple, joyful meeting of brands and fans.