We all want to build engaged and committed communities around our brands, but is there a secret formula to this level of fandom we’re all seeking?  

Zoe Scaman, the founder of Bodacious, a UK-based strategy studio, joined State of Social ‘21 via Zoom with an eye-opening keynote presentation on building strong communities and fandom.   

Zoe dropped so much knowledge on the State of Social crowd, including the ownership economy, nichification, and so much more. 

If you’re at all interested in NFTs, interactive online experiences, online communities, and even fan-directed content, Zoe’s presentation was certainly one not to be missed. 

Let’s dive into a quick recap of Zoe’s keynote presentation. 

Fandom = community x autonomy x equity 

Want the secret to creating fandom? Follow Zoe’s formula: community x autonomy x equity. 

Often when we talk about “community,” we’re almost always talking about social media followings. That, however, isn’t quite what Zoe Scaman thinks we should be focussing on. 

“A community has to have true peer-to-peer ability … a place where they can share their passions, their obsessions, their interests, and really build relationships with one another.”   

In addition to community, you also need to offer fans autonomy. 

“Giving the community, or fans, the ability to create alongside a brand or alongside a music artist or a music artist or NBA star, and actively encouraging them to do so. Where a lot of fan fiction used to be met with legal action, that’s starting to change now.”    

The final piece is equity, and so much of this is due to the blockchain and cryptocurrency. Offering your community true equity means offering them “the ability to ‘buy-in’ as a part of their fandom, to earn based on their advocacy and to have the potential of a shared upside and monetary payback in the future.” 

The rise of cryptocurrency and other digital currencies has allowed fans to interact financially with their favourite brands, celebrities, and games in ways they have never been able to before.


People are always looking for “their people”. We all want to find our tribe and make real connections with people who share our interests. And that is where Zoe Scaman believes deep nichification comes into play. 

“We’re moving away from social media as reach and breadth and instead moving towards using it for niches and depth, seeking out deep vertical communities with whom we can share our obsessions, obscure knowledge and weirdness, to be understood and to connect over the stuff we love.” 

We’ve already seen this sort of community building on platforms like Reddit. However, Discord has taken things to another level in recent years.

Discord has opened up huge new revenue streams for content creators all over the world. Discord offers a level of exclusivity that other platforms simply can’t, and it allows content creators to engage with their community in what often feels like a more personal manner. 

Fans directing the action

The internet is absolutely filled with fan fiction. Some of it is fantastic. Some of it is … yeah. However, where fan fiction was once met with lawyers and scary letters, brands now embrace their communities and allow them to be involved in the creative process. 

“When we create content, or when we create experiences, they’re very-well polished. What’s happening now is more and more fans and audiences are saying, ‘I don’t want the polish. I don’t want the carefully constructed. I want more spontaneity. I want to feel like I’m actually a part of this, and I want to feel as if there’s a level of serendipity to what’s happening so that I feel a part of that particular moment or that particular mission.”   

Whether it’s interactive games or fan-directed experiences, brands are leveraging the collective creativity to make their products more involved, engaging and personal.   

Don’t forget to follow Zoe Scaman on Twitter