On the day the 2011 lineup was announced for Fun Fun Fun Fest, an annual indie music festival in Austin that focuses on progressive acts and old-school marquee names, the following were among the 30 Facebook status updates blasted from the festival's page to its more than 15,000 fans: "QUESTION FROM FLYNT FLOSSY: Who would you drink your own pee to meet from this year's line up?" "Why lie... I'm too excited to sleep!" and "Just got a text from the internet asking us to chill out." In addition, they posted numerous music videos shouting captions like "WANT. SO HAWT ##Foxxy" over a YouTube video of Swedish pop-goddess Lykke Li's "Little Bit," and "I'm skeered" above metal doom kings Slayer playing "Raining Blood." Both artists, in addition to Public Enemy, Odd Future, Okkervil River, Spoon, tUnE-yArDs and the Upright Citizens Brigade, are major draws this year.
Generally, Fun Fun fans are passionate about independent music and discovering new acts before they potentially hit the mainstream circuit. Historically, the festival has had a lot of success catering to this interest: MGMT, for example, played in 2007 for about $500 according to James Moody, Fun Fun Boss and Marketing Guru, and Girl Talk brought his party to a tiny stage that same year. Now in its sixth year, it's clear this rabid, music craving fan niche is growing. To accommodate 10,000 more people, the festival is moving from Waterloo Park with a capacity of 10,000 people, to Auditorium Shores, which holds 20,000.
To reach this audience effectively, Fun Fun has relied almost completely on its creative social media savvy to differentiate the brand and develop an audience. In addition to Facebook and Twitter -- prerequisites in this game-- they made waves when they utilized Turntable.fm, an interactive site that allows users to become DJs and simultaneously partake in chat room dialogue, to preview its lineup. As reported by Rolling Stone and Fast Company, Fun Fun orchestrated a slow reveal of its 2011 talent to a cyber-room packed with their social network fans an hour before the official announcement. With the space at capacity (200 people), each song disclosed a different artist from the previously unreleased list, creating excitement and buzz that bounced off the virtual walls, out to Facebook and Twitter and into media chatter. The integration of this relatively unknown technology was indeed a brilliant idea that worked out even better than expected, but more remarkable, in many ways, is the snarky, likable, ballsy social media personality of Fun Fun, which sets the brand apart from the constant flow of updates.
Where most events handle their audience with kid gloves and sterilized, warm-fuzzy posts designed for mass likability, Fun Fun banks on a more casual, bantering, personal vibe by way of original creative content, links to music and festival artist profiles, quirky videos and pictures, and a stream of consciousness voice that sounds much more like an entertaining, smartass, human Austinite than a marketing strategy. Proper capitalizations and grammar are tossed out the window and replaced with a funny, colloquial "homie." To declare something like "I'm gonna chug a red bull coffee and crank my shake weight until 12PM DJ time tomorrow," post photos of a banana hammock clad Fun Fun Fun Fest security guard, leak the lineup in nautical code, link to a 2011 artist on NPR and share a National Geographic video piece about the warrior gene in any given week is par for the course.
Moody is also the voice behind all of the social media, and admits that there is no schedule for these posts, which mostly find their way onto the interwebs straight from his intuition. While the approach is admittedly risky, as head of Transmission Entertainment, Guerilla Suit marketing agency, and part owner/talent booker at the Mohawk, with 10 years of a classical marketing background prior to that, it's fair to assume the consistent brand messaging and insight on what the kids are into these days is no happy accident.
"I personally have a firm belief that people don't mind being marketed to," he explains. "They know it's part of our society and know it's part of our lives, but they no longer want this big-banner-in-your-face-buy-my-shit-moment... They demand respect, they know they're going to be marketed to, they don't even mind it, they're just like do it with care. Think about it a little bit more. Have some fun with it and don't just put a laser in my face."
Additionally, Moody is of the belief that with all the competing social media noise, the best approach for engaging the audience is to treat it like dating, which makes personality extra important (right, people?): there needs to be a courtship, banter, coy moments and a get to know you window with the fans before expecting them to consummate the relationship with a ticket purchase. Even though there are a million ways to hit up your target online, patience and thoughtfulness are key to building the connection.
Through their myriad of marketing efforts, Fun Fun's personality shines and has created relationships with fans who comment frequently, "like" a lot, exchange jib-jabs, create Fun Fun based Spotify lists and share their own funny material. To know your niche and speak to them directly is a beautiful thing and there's a good chance the festival will sell out this year. By sharing a strong point of view, Fun Fun not only stands out, but also garners loyalty from a growing community that will be chomping at the bit until it all goes down in November.
Follow Stephanie Keller on Twitter: www.twitter.com/stephckeller