Doing Social right – the Marillion model

In my previous blogpost, I discussed the need for social media marketers to put the “social” back in Social Media. 

Sounds simple, but how does a brand actually do this? 

Doing social right requires that a company finds a way to engage and create meaningful and long-term relationships with its customers and clients.

These relationships help to promote brand loyalty and can create powerful brand ambassadors for an organization that is doing it right.

One brand that is exceptionally good at doing this is the Rock band Marillion.

Who on earth is Marillion anyway? 

Marillion is a British rock band that released their first album in 1981. Their discography includes an impressive 17 studio albums and they are set to release their 18th album later this year

Throughout their 35 year history, they have sold more than 15 million albums and have won multiple awards including the 2013 Prog Award for Band of the Year along with the 2015 Prog Award for Best Live Event of the Year for their bi-annual Marillion Weekend Conventions.  

The 2015 Marillion Weekend convention was particularly successful as it saw over over 3000 fans from 52 different countries gather to watch Marillion put on three distinct two hour + shows during three consecutive nights in Montreal, England and the Netherlands.

The following video provides a small glimpse of what a Marillion Weekend looks like.

Screenshot 2016-03-28 18.10.10

How would you describe Marillion’s music?

Marillion’s music is hard to describe however, it could be said that their music has a profound atmospheric sound coupled with deeply meaningful lyrics that often results in deep emotional connections being formed between the band and their fans.

Some people have compared Marillion’s music to bands such as Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Genesis, Coldplay, The Beatles and Muse.

When lead singer Steve Hogarth was once asked to describe Marillion’s music he suggested in a whimsical fashion that if Pink Floyd and Radiohead were to get together and have a love child – that child would be Marillion.

To get a taste of Marillion’s sound, following is a song entitled Power from Marillion’s last album Sounds That Can’t Be Made.

Screenshot 2016-03-28 17.56.21.jpg

How is Marillion unique?

Marillion is known for having some of the most loyal fans in the world. 

In fact, this fan brand loyalty towards the group enabled Marillion to become crowdfunding pioneers in the music industry.

Essentially Marillion’s albums are crowdfunded by their fans BEFORE they are even written.

Now THAT is brand loyalty.

A Cambridge news article accurately described Marillion’s relationship with their fans in the following manner:

“The band’s relationship with its devotees is not only legendary – it pretty much helped shape what’s rapidly becoming the standard model for the music business in the 21st century. In 1997, when US fans showed the colour of their money by financing an American tour out of their own pockets, Marillion were among the first musicians to realise the potential of the internet for cutting out costly, inefficient record companies in favour of communicating directly with their audience. In the 15 years since, the self-styled “freaks” have bankrolled pretty much everything the band do – including paying out for several albums before they’d even been written.”

So how did Marillion create such brand loyalty? 

They did this in large part through their ongoing efforts to engage and relate to their fans through various means including through the strategic and consistent use of digital and social media.

Marillion’s YouTube channel

Marillion have done an exceptional job of connecting with their fans using their YouTube channel.  Over the last 10 years they have posted almost 100 videos on this channel.

Many videos they have posted are “Ask the Band” sessions where band members answer questions from fans.

Following is an example of one such video where they answer questions from fans.

Screenshot 2016-03-28 09.06.51


Marillion also have an appreciation for the use of humour as a means of connecting with their fans.  

Using humour is particularly effective at helping fans relate to the band (because who doesn’t appreciate a little humour right?)

For example, following was a Facebook post by the band in response to a fan submitting a picture of the Minions disguised as members of the band.   The fan cleverly called this montage “Marillions”:

Screenshot 2016-03-25 15.30.02

Another example of the band’s use of humour could be witnessed during their recent campaign launch to promote their upcoming new album.

To launch the campaign and raise fan awareness and excitement, Marillion posted the following short comical video on both their Facebook and YouTube pages:Screenshot 2016-03-28 10.11.48
Marillion’s strategic use of Facebook

Marillion also understand the importance of engaging fans through Facebook.

In fact, Marillion makes extensive use of several Facebook pages.  

Following are screenshots from different Facebook pages they leverage to engage and foster an ongoing dialogue and connection with their fans.

Screenshot 2016-03-28 09.17.57

Screenshot 2016-03-28 18.20.09

Screenshot 2016-03-28 18.20.36

One very effective way Marillion manage to maintain an ongoing dialogue with their fans is through the use of their Manager Lucy Jordache’s “Lucy’s Friday Questions” Facebook page.

This Facebook page essentially allows Marillion fans, on designated Fridays, to ask Lucy any question(s) they want regarding the band’s activities.

This forum is very effective at keeping the “Social” in Social Media.Screenshot 2016-03-28 09.30.12

Marillion’s use of Twitter

Marillion have also successfully engaged their fans by hosting live Question and Answer (Q & A) sessions on Twitter.  These (Q & A) Twitter sessions give fans a forum to ask questions directly to the band.

Screenshot 2016-03-28 09.13.15

Doing Social Right – the Marillion Model

In a previous blogpost, I talked about learning how to “do” social from those who are doing it right.

Marillion is definitely a brand that knows what it is doing.

Their success at turning fans into brand advocates and brand ambassadors should be the envy of many brand managers.

Social media marketers and brand developers would do well to take a piece out of the Marillion playbook.

Following are some additional links highlighting Marillion’s success

Marillion ‘Unconventional’ documentary reviews Trailer

Recent review of the “Unconventional” documentary on Marillion Weekend

Sample of Marillion’s music (trailer for “The Glow Must Go On” live Blu-Ray release)

Food for thought

* Have any brands been successful at engaging you as a consumer?

* Would you consider yourself a brand advocate for a cause or company in general?

* What do you find is the most important thing a company can do to earn your trust and brand loyalty?

I want to hear from you.  Please join me in the conversation.

Connect with me on LinkedIn.

One thought on “Doing Social right – the Marillion model

  1. Wow, quel beau texte nous permettant de constater la créativité d’une organisation pour développer des liens signifiants avec ces fans….bravo johny your simply the best!!!🍻

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