Managing Robbie Williams Fans, Part 2

picturePart 2 of an interview with Shell, webmaster for, a Robbie Williams fansite. Yesterday we got an overview of the site and its relationship with Robbie Williams and his associates. Today, she shares her insights and lessons learned from running the site:

What do you think has made the site as successful as it is?

Good, fair, impartial management who have alot of enthusiasm for the site and his membership base. Original content, that is updated constantly and a site that is very user friendly.

The members play a huge part too. They are friendly, welcoming, diverse and alot of firm friendships have developed and grown. The atmosphere on the community is great, whereas on some fansites i have come across in my research i cannot say the same.

Members are very supportive of the site and it’s staff which is also a major factor of being successful.

You’re also involved in The Admin Zone. For people who aren’t aware of that, can you tell us more about that site?

The Admin Zone is a site for new and old forum community administrators and moderators. It offers help and support as well as a reviewing service and original articles and tutorials to help build, manage and maintain a forum based website.

What insights have you gained into managing fan communities as a result of your involvement with

It wasn’t what i expected to be honest. Managing a fansite has thrown up alot of insights. The main being the treatment of celebrities by the tabloid media both online and off. I’ve learnt about online promotion and believe fansites go along way to help promote their subjects new material as well as supporting the artist online. The legalities behind online music, videos, lyrics and images has also been an insight.

There’s also a negative side to fandom. We have come across a few obsessives and the staff team have had to learn how to deal with this in the best possible way behind the scenes in private without it effecting the community as a whole. It can be quite shocking and disturbing when you come across these people but the good easily outweighs the bad and luckily on Pure Robbie 99% of fans using the site do so in a positive way and respect the site’s and artists wishes .

One of our main insights was when questioning just how far discussions could go. The artist recently admitted himself into rehab for addiction to perscription drugs. Obviously this was a concern to fans but some discussions were beginning to, in the staffs opinion, intrude too much into his personal life. Fans were assuming and speculating about his health to a degree that made us feel uncomfortable and even though his management didn’t disapprove we felt that out of respect fans shouldn’t speculate and only listen to the facts both the artist, and his family and management put out relating to this personal and sensitive subject.

There’s been alot of debate on the site since about how far discussions should go and what should and should not be discussed on a public forum/fansite.

What advice would you offer others who are interested in creating a fan site?

I’d advise researching the market. If there are other fansites already for your subject look what works for them and what doesnt and build upon that. Add originality wherever possible to make your fansite stand out. Pay attention to detail when creating the sites design and layout. Theme and design should be tied together. Have a logo that is brandable, original and recognisable.

Things to include on a fansite are:

Biography, discography, filmography, an archive of all ‘old’ information on your chosen subject, image gallery, news section, original reviews and articles as well as site exclusives.

Get members involved in all areas of the site.

Consider how to generate site revenue as fansites can grow rapidly and you need to be able to generate enough revenue to keep the site up and running as things like bandwidth useage can send your hosting package up the scale pretty quickly, be prepared. You will also need revenue to run competitions etc to keep generating interest. Research advertising opportunities and member subscriptions or donations.

Also be the site that brings the news in quickly and constantly. Give members a reason to keep returning and try to maintain a good atmosphere on the community. Get members as involved in the site as possible Fansites are all about fans opinions, ensure they have outlets for these.

Are there any other things you think we should know about that I didn’t ask?

I believe Pure Robbie, and the majority of fansites online have changed the relationship between artist/subject and fan and also contribute to the online promotion of the artist and their work.

Online Fansites also help an artists profile online, their supporters can share opinions with other like minded people from around the world. Information is delieved to a wider audience alot more quickly making the fan feel closer to the artist as well as being able to keep up to date on all his goings on like future releases, projects etc…

Fans opinions, posted on fansites are picked up by search engines placing their opinions on many subjects relating to the artist/subject alongside those of critics in search engine results, giving anyone looking for information about the artist/subject a rounder, more balanced and informed perspective.

Comments (1) to “Managing Robbie Williams Fans, Part 2”

  1. As someone who runs a fansite for considerably less well known acts than Robbie Williams I found this interview fascinating. I’m interested that so much of what Shell says about a fansite applies just as much to the obscure as to the famous. I posted a whine recently about the imminent demise of the fan-site but in retrospect demise was probably too tough a word – I think things are changing (mostly for the better) and the well run and well-loved fan site will just have to adapt to face the onslaught of MySpace and Facebook as places were fans commune and get their news and information.