Why I’d Risk Everything for BTS

By Chelsea Real, VP, Social Strategy, Digitas

They say you find BTS, (and in my humble opinion) the most famous South Korean boy band, when you need them the most. And that’s no mistake. In the last ten years, BTS’ savvy and accessible connection tactics have cultivated one of the most leaned-in, passionate fandoms globally – affectionately known as ARMY – with content across more than 12 “channels” centered on building an exclusive, intimate community even they are fans of. Their savvy connection to fans makes them a force to be reckoned with not just in the music world but in the whole of the marketing world. So, listen up marketers, you’re going to want to learn from this.

BTS is More Accessible

How do they do it? They make themselves available. Not in a cringe oversharing way, but in a way that makes you feel like you have a say in their journey. The parasocial relationship is unmatched. Compared to their western pop mega star counterparts, BTS has ~8x more connection points than Dua Lipa. Beyond global social channels (X, Instagram, TikTok where they have more than 280 million fans collectively) BTS also has presence on Weverse, BT21, BTS Blog, Tiny Tan and so much more). BTS approach isn’t linear and doesn’t look like a matching luggage dump. They use each platform differently and purposefully. When other artists use platforms to show off their rockstar lives, BTS and their team have built a networked experience (a vast curated ecosystem) where fans aren’t just talked at, they’re talked to, asked opinions, given access to their favorite moments at an intimate level – all in service of fan connection. It’s a rich and engaging experience that’s all about being present and welcoming to different modes of people’s lives.

For the truest of fans, the Weverse app offers full production variety shows (Run BTS, In the Soop, Bon Voyage), band member content, post-show live streams – with direct fan engagement – a worthwhile privilege. Beyond the produced content, BTS band members are often connect with fans in the most mundane live streams. During the streams they may fall asleep, drink a beer, watch their old concerts and laugh about inside jokes only their fans know or squash lore their fans created about those moments in real-time with their fans – as would any small-time creator.

BTS Matches Their Fan’s Fandom

And why do I love them so much? ARMY isn’t just a symbol for the band, it’s their foundation of everything they do – they make games because ARMY loves gaming (peep the tagline “their story is in your hands”), they mention a cause they believe in and their fans donate millions of dollars to it in support, they do live streams because ARMY says they haven’t heard from them in a while. They also penned heartfelt letters to fans that felt like a personal goodbye before they all enlisted in their mandatory military service. While western artists are visible and seemingly available when they are promoting something, BTS have the scale of a movement and the humility of a friend. Your time spent with BTS and a Dua Lipa is different. Because it feels like BTS is spending time with YOU. Even if you’re someone like me who doesn’t understand their native language (although I’m learning, thanks Duolingo) and you have to wait for translations to come out, you still tune in because it feels like a best friend is just checking in on you. And to top it off, they write at least one song dedicated to ARMY on every album with lyrics like “we are not seven without you” (note: roughly translated).

The biggest lessons any marketer could learn from BTS’s cutting edge marketing is follow your fans, learn from them and grow with them. Don’t just pander to their interests – create a networked experience that has touchpoints for them at every turn. Building the ultimate loyal fan requires revisiting brand availability, preserving authenticity and maintaining connection built in the image of the fan. And if I’ve convinced you enough to go experience BTS for yourself, start with listening to the Love Yourself: Answer album, check out episodes 83-85 of Run BTS and even make yourself an account on WeVerse ahead of when the boys return from their mandatory military service in 2025.