When it comes to resonating with your audience, the act and art of not just listening to your audience, but using customer feedback in order to shape your business and/or product is crucial according to Ron Martino, deviantART Editor and Producer.

At SXSW Interactive, both Martino and Angelo Sotira, cofounder and CEO of deviantART, discussed this new “rise of collective genius” and how it’s shaping business. In their presentation, “Creator vs. Audience: The Next Chapter in Storytelling,” Martino explained that the role of an editor or content creator is changing. “Listening to customer feedback and embracing it is the key to success. Knowing what resonates with an audiences is important. The telescope is turned around. Things can’t be top down anymore. It’s not about who you think your audience is, it’s about who they actually are… The audience demands its voice.”

deviantART, the 13-year-old online artist community and showcase currently houses 25 million members in as many as 3,600 categories ranging from anime, to fan art, literature, design and photography. Some of deviantART’s most successful artists are the result of what Martino calls “Narrative Shamanism.” Customer feedback plays an important role in the direction and outcome of an artist’s piece.

Martino gave the example of yummei, a female flash graphic novelist on deviantART who receives tens of thousands of comments, more than 62,000 favorites (the equivalent of a ‘like’) and more than 850,000 reads, and that’s just one chapter! How does she do it? Yummei opens up the dialogue with her audience so they can give her feedback and input. Based on that feedback, she then allows fans to have a walk-on role as a character in her next chapter. “Feedback is built in as part of the story process,” explained Martino.

deviantART has also embraced this audience feedback by developing Odyssey projects in which they create and publish novels, all based on fans. The current project, spearheaded by Clive Barker, English author, film director and visual artist, is a completely crowd sourced graphic novel. Barker writes the prologues ending in suspense or with questions, and the community writes, draws, sculpts, films the next chapter until an entire novel is complete. The novel will be published in September, and as a result, they’ve developed a thriving, loyal, engaging and genuine community – something all businesses strive for.

Have you embraced customer or fan feedback so that it’s shaping your biz? Share your story!

© 2013 – 2018, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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