Think Forward 2024: Everyday fandom
Yesterday, we held a LinkedIn Live to discuss Everyday Fandom – a trend in our recently released report, Think Forward: The Social Reckoning. In search of mainstream collectivity, everyday users are acting like ultra-fans – to hear more about the trend, click here to watch Nadja Vogel, Chief Strategy Officer, and Talia Longthorne, Senior Research & Insight Manager discuss the meaning of Everyday Fandom, and its significance in shaping social in 2024.
Brands have begun co-opting fan behaviours, even where they have no existing fan communities to tap into, to build engagement and excitement with audiences and drive commercial success. Barbie’s marketing, for example, both appealed to and fuelled mass fandom: from plug-and-play meme templates and themed merch splashed across social to cinema-goers dressing up for their screenings, people around the world came together in shared (and fleeting) stan culture.
2023 was the summer of fandom. Punctuated by a trio of sold out world tours – Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, Beyonce’s Renaissance Tour, and Harry Styles’ Love On Tour – we are seeing a significant shift in the adoption, sharing and normalisation of what would once have been seen as “extreme” fan behaviours.
Fandom experts like Allegra Rosenberg have called it out: what was formerly dismissed as nerdy and uncool has now been reframed, with the everyday person now embracing the collective human joys inherent in stanning something hard.
This has partly been driven by the sheer cultural power of fandoms, and with extended periods of social isolation and the cost of living rising, people are looking to get the absolute most out of their interests and experiences. Dressing up in homage to their favourite artists, dissecting lyrics, creating fan art, organising fan-driven events, and interpreting hidden messages are all part of this experience – they want to feel part of a brand’s world, and then share it online with other fans.
THE BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE
Fandom is becoming more inclusive.
Black TikTokkers are making Harry Potter more inclusive by reimagining the Universe from the perspective of Historically Black colleges and universities (‘HBCUs’) in the US. Riffing off meme culture of the Hogwarts Legacy Video game, the community created HAMU, or Hogwarts Agricultural and Magical University – a take on the fictional wizarding school. There’s the common rooms of various Hogwarts houses, house parties, pep rallies, merchandise, and Greek life of Harry Potter seen through the lens of Black culture, allowing users previously left out by Rowling to position themselves more prominently in the mythical world.
Gatekeeping is out as the internet becomes more wholesome and participatory.
In recent times, post-irony, parody, and nihilism have long characterised online activity. However, there has been a noticeable shift in youth culture towards a more wholesome tone, and a preference for content and creators that facilitate large-scale connections by being both welcoming and easily comprehensible. Concert goers are teaching each other dance moves and choreography to maximise their enjoyment, from arenas to living rooms, while South Korea’s webtoons are globally booming because of how they lend themselves to creative, interactive fan participation.
Fandoms are asserting digital ownership of IPs and modernising them.
On TikTok, creators like @artstuffandthings and @walidfatam are reimagining iconic and nostalgic cinema – originally filmed in traditional horizontal format – for the vertical screen. These creators are using AI to fill out images and reformat scenes to take up a whole vertical phone screen – and despite it just being a format tweak with no ‘new’ content made, the response on social has been emotional. “You made me cry again like I was watching it for the first time,” says one user; “I need more vertical movies in my life,” says another. A broad fanbase is following along, requesting adaptations of their own favourite films in this modern format.
Read more about Everyday Fandom and the four other trends in Think Forward: The Social Reckoning.