Ariana Grande has the Arianators. BTS has its BTS Army. Beyonce has the Beyhive. Taylor Swift has the Swifties. Even Marvel’s biggest superheroes have their own “stans.”
In today’s pop culture-focused society, having ultra-dedicated fans is a sign of social media supremacy for celebrities, sports teams, movie franchises, beauty brands, and beyond.
i thought those kpop stans were wasting their time replying to every tweet with those videos but one of those songs lowkey slapped. now I'm here listening to My Time by BTS— bigstepper zed (@NathanZed) February 28, 2020
For many, stan accounts are nothing more than obsessive fan accounts.
But in reality, stans are an instrumental part of the Internet — and their influence (and impact) shouldn’t be ignored.
We're breaking down stan culture along with four key things social media managers can learn.
What Is a “Stan” on Social Media?
On social media, stan accounts are usually dedicated to celebrity culture.
Take Harry Styles for example. Not only does he have stan accounts that idolize him as a musician, but he has stan accounts dedicated to the clothes that he wears.
Harry wore a vintage Jamaica sailboat tee out in Italy.https://t.co/fcawRfRMEJ— Harry Styles Fashion Archive (@hsfasharchive) May 12, 2022
Thank you to @ramseshurt for the tip! pic.twitter.com/wdkdUobjUT
The term “stan” came into popular culture in 2000, with Eminem’s song “Stan” featuring Dido, which details a story about an overly dedicated fan who turns out to be a stalker (stalker + fan = stan).
Over the past two decades, the term has been adopted by the most dedicated celebrity fans on social media platforms.
While stan accounts may seem like a trivial part of pop culture, they can have a huge influence on what makes it into the top 10.
For savvy musicians, stan accounts are an important marketing outlet.
And their impact should not be overlooked.
@USBTSARMY, for example, is one of thousands of stans pages for the K-pop group BTS, and has over 700K followers.
someone: bts— niki. (@95LAUV) May 18, 2022
me : *turns around like someone called my name*
In 2021, BTS’ global “army” strategized to get 6 singles at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in a single year — the most since The Beatles.
The takeaway? Stan accounts can be big, big business.
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What We Can Learn From Stan Culture on Social Media
Having thousands of dedicated fan accounts helping to spread your message across the globe may seem out-of-reach, but here are a few fundamental principles that can be taken away from stan culture on social media:
Put Your Audience (And Their Interests) First
Community Lives in the Comments
Create Relatable Memes For Your Community
Tap Into Your Community's Language
#1: Put Your Audience (And Their Interests) First
The #1 thing we should learn from stan accounts? Put your audience first.
While it's important to prioritize content that helps achieve business KPIs — like increasing web traffic or raising brand awareness — if you're not thinking about what your audience wants, it won't deliver results.
This is now a @Harry_Styles stan account.— Apple Music (@AppleMusic) May 20, 2022
Set your reminders. #AppleMusicLive happens at 6PM PT, only on Apple Music. https://t.co/K9ZnrDiWKT pic.twitter.com/gF6o0AJJPW
Stan accounts are all about tapping into a shared interest, so if you're a social media manager, consider what your audience would find helpful or entertaining in relation to your product or service.
At Later, for example, we share lots of video tutorials about content creation — it’s valuable to our audience and relevant to our social media scheduling products.
By putting your audience first, you allow them to feel a sense of importance within your brand’s ecosystem; like they’re a part of something bigger than a purchase transaction.
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#2: Community Lives In the Comments
The second major thing that we can learn from stan culture? Interacting with your followers is key.
The stan community thrives from interactions with their respective “fave.” When one Swiftie receives a like from Taylor Swift on TikTok, the overall standom feels like they’ve won.
Many brands skip engaging with their followers unless done in a “customer service” type of way, since it may not lead to an immediate KPI increase. But, engaging with your followers shouldn’t be overlooked.
The more interaction you have with your followers, the deeper that fan relationship becomes.
And the deeper that fan relationship becomes, the more likely they are to become ambassadors or brand evangelists – people who will tell their friends, family, and followers about the brand.
Scrub Daddy's TikTok followers love the brand not just for their content but because their social team frequently responds to comments on their posts.
If you have followers that consistently engage with your posts or tag you in their content, consider rewarding them for their support.
Whether it’s in the form of a promo code, gift card, or even just a personal thank message via DM — that acknowledgment can go a long way.
TIP: Struggling to stay on top of your comments? Later’s Conversations feature shows your most recent Instagram comments, so you can read and reply right on your desktop.
#3: Create Relatable Memes For Your Community
Stans understand the power of memes and frequently create those they know will be appreciated by other members in their community:
Me one second into #HarrysHouse #HarryStyles pic.twitter.com/11SA5rvNkR— Rachel ²⁸ (@harrysatellitee) May 20, 2022
Memes work so well because they're highly shareable, relatable, and can help humanize your brand — especially when you jump on a trendy moment:
When creating memes for your audience, consider the type of content they already love, and keep an eye on what's happening in pop-culture.
Are there any meme opportunities you can jump on?
They don't have to be overly complex either. Straightforward and to the point usually works best.
For example, Cocokind frequently uses memes to promote their skincare products and spark engagement:
Memes are a driving force behind stan culture and can be super beneficial to your content strategy — no matter your niche.
#4: Tap Into Your Community’s Language
One of the biggest takeaways from stan culture on social media is knowing how to talk to your most dedicated followers.
Stan Twitter really drives innovation in language in a very specific lane and it’s so fascinating to see— kyle (@onthebulletin) April 30, 2022
Rather than sounding like a corporate robot, tap into how your followers speak.
Do they like using certain emojis?
Are there acronyms (e.g. IYKYK, FWIW, POV) that they’d know right off the bat?
Take rapper Lil Nas X, for example, who communicates with his stans using humor they'd understand and feels authentic to his brand:
if i don’t leave with grammys tomorrow i will be formally turning in my resignation letter to the illuminati— MONTERO (@LilNasX) April 2, 2022
However, it's important to keep your brand voice in mind too.
Depending on your brand, you may not want to sound exactly like your "stans" or followers, but can be flexible depending on the platform.
For example, on TikTok or Twitter you might be more casual than you are on Facebook.
FentySkin isn’t afraid to use emojis and informal punctuation in their Tweets because they understand their target audience and how they’d communicate in their everyday:
That bounce tho 😛 Y'all cop our new #COOKIESNCLEAN yet?! 👀— FENTY SKIN (@fentyskin) April 22, 2022
Available NOW at https://t.co/3axmHm97py, @Sephora, Sephora at @Kohls, and #SEPHORACANADA 🛒 pic.twitter.com/7K2tfxUunh
Having a solid understanding of who your followers are (and how they speak) will help inform your content and how you market to them.
Stan Culture on Social Media: Final Thoughts
If there’s one thing for you to takeaway, it’s the power of community.
Stan culture has successfully tapped into the importance of feeling connected to others over a shared interest.
When creating content for your brand, remember to keep your target audience in mind:
What would they find relatable or valuable?
What are their painpoints?
How do they talk?
How can we create a sense of community?
Acknowledging and connecting with your most dedicated supporters will not only deepen those relationships, but will help strengthen their brand loyalty and advocacy in the long term.
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