"I want a million followers". We've heard this many times, and for us it's fantastic because it easily sorts out who we want to bring on board as a client, and who we'll happily leave to the competition. Why? Because if you're more focused on the number of followers you have as opposed to the quality of the audience you're working towards this is a big red flag that you misunderstand how social media marketing, and indeed marketing as a whole, actually works.
Founding executive editor of Wired Magazine, Kevin Kelly (pictured right) wrote an essay a few years back entitled "1000 True Fans", to this day we feel it is the single most important essay that a business can read when heading into any marketing plan and we suggest it as reading to almost all clients prior to bringing them on board. The basic theory of the essay suggests that all you'll ever need, no matter how big your brand or business becomes, is 1000 true fans.
Taken from the essay: A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.
Understanding your 'true fans' will allow you to then accurately understand the ROI of any new product or service your business introduces, both in terms of monetary returns and consumption of your brand.
So if that's all you need (and admittedly it's easier said than done) why are so many obsessed with collecting millions of followers?
Vanity. Lack of understanding of marketing. Ego. It could be any of these but the final outcome remains the same - if your sole purpose of social media marketing is to accrue followers you are destined to fail in one way or another.
We recently acquired a fantastic new client based in the equestrian world. She has lofty goals of becoming the next big authority in that sector and intends to sweep the board for industry awards and accreditations earned. After she approached us we had several conversations about her ambitions, why anyone should care about them, and how we can get that across on social media. At that time she had no social pages set up and obviously a following of zero.
However, because she'd invested the time to understand where she was going and why she was going there, when she reached out to some of her favourite brands looking for partnerships she actually managed to become a sponsored representative for a clothing brand before she'd even posted her first pic to instagram! This incredible result came as a direct result of her laser focused vision and understanding of what a real audience was, how we were going to go about obtaining one, and what that could mean for any corporate partners she acquired.
When someone clicks that follow button on your business page it's important for you to remember what a big win that actually is. It means someone is actually interested enough in what you're saying, offering, or selling that they want to see more of it. This is a HUGE win and understanding this can be the difference between the independent fashion designer with 'only' 300 instagram followers who survives a global pandemic and sells product consistently throughout, vs the super 'popular' insta-famous outlet with millions of followers who flops like a jelly on a wet mattress because they don't understand or care about their audience (true story by the way!).
Understanding your audience and your true fans allows your business to be bomb proof. No matter how much competition you have, how many restrictions the government applies to you during a pandemic, or how long and hard a financial winter may be - understanding your audience of true fans allows you to withstand and survive it all.
Here at Whittingham Marketing & Consultancy we don't care for empty follower numbers and have worked with many uber-successful companies to help them thrive online; from the plumber with 300 followers looking to increase their local reach, to the independent band who achieved a top 20 UK album through the power of understanding their audience. We understand what it takes to build an audience of true fans and we can build one for your business.
If this sounds like something you need help with feel free to contact us today, but above all else make sure you read the essay by Kevin Kelly and apply what you learn to your marketing.
Build a collection of 1000 true fans and never look back.