The power of a legion of fans and what it can do for you
Probably you have seen, a couple of weeks ago, the pretty successful “Exploding Kittens Cards Game” campaign on Kickstarter created by Elan Lee, Shane Small and Matthew Inman, famously known as The Oatmeal. From a US$ 10,000 initial goal, they have successfully pledged over US$ 5,000,000 at the moment and still have 16 days to go! We are almost pretty sure that if a totally unknown person would have created some similar cards game, it wouldn't have collected those millions, maybe not even one. So, that makes anyone think… Why some -apparently- simple cards game have pledged so much money in such a short period of time? What kind of sorcery is this? What is the secret ingredient?! Well, the answer is very simple: The Oatmeal.
It is pretty awesome what a legion of fans and followers can do. Seriously. And that fact makes me recall the Kevin Kelly’s post in 2008 about having 1000 True Fans. Yeah, sure, this doesn’t sound like a big deal, huh? But, in the long run, it means everything and makes perfect sense. I’m pretty sure everyone wants to substantially grow their business in the long run, not just for a short period. Plus, what do they teach you in your academic and professional career about having loyal clients: They will always prefer you over any actual and potential competitors, they will continue buying your services or products even if a competitor tries to coax them with sweet candies or massages. In conclusion, your professional life teaches you to get those loyal clients.
So what this thing about getting 1000 True Fans mean? In Kevin Kelly’s own words: "A true fan is someone who will purchase ANYTHING and EVERYTHING you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will come to your openings. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait to issue your next work. They are true fans.” Does this sound familiar with the Exploding Kittens Cards Game? Yes, yes, yes!
Another clue, he also says that anyone producing works of art needs to acquire only 1000 True Fans to make a living. Actually, at some limit, this can also be applied to anyone selling goods or services. It makes perfect sense when he specifies “artists" because an artist/creator releases something new every time, so this artist's true fan will always purchase the products. But if you sell refrigerators and release new refrigerators every month, it’s less likely that someone wants and needs new refrigerators every single month. However, what the true fan can still do? Recommend. Recommend YOU like crazy because they love you. In today’s media-slang world is more like: Share, share, share. Equals driving more traffic to your site and getting you in contact with more potential true fans.
This will take its time. To build a legion of fans like The Oatmeal did. It took him 5 years and a breakthrough in life from being a freelance programmer who didn’t enjoy much social interactions to create one of the web’s top cartoons in the world. Now? He seriously has a legion of true fans, and not just 1000, who like/share/retweet/follow his content. And even purchase his merchandise. Sure you can go viral and increase your traffic enormously from one day to another, but what happens after such a big boost… What goes up, comes down. For better or worse. The best way to take advantage of a big boost is by providing continuously awesome stuff. By stuff we mean: Content, Value, Deals, and anything worth people’s time. If you keep your fans happy, they will continue loving you. The way to figure out what makes them happy is by listening to them, interacting with them, making them part of your family.
Okay, so now that we all know about this. What’s next? After finding your true fans, which is like finding your true love, things get serious. The hard work starts, if you want to succeed. Now you can’t stop. You can’t abandon your blog for one year just like that because you've decided to take a year-off. The real challenge begins with maintaining those true fans. Fortunately, now the power of social media helps here. Hooray Internet! And along with different social media strategies, you should not expect a success or a massive hit to happen, but build the critical mass first. Once you achieve to get your first followers and fans, it becomes a lot easier as your support network grows. You won't be alone, you will be with your growing legion of fans right at your side.