You've probably heard of the 1,000 true fans principle—the 1,000 people who are into your work and support you. But there is a subset of fans within fans. The real, true fans. The super fans.
The ones who buy everything you sell. Or constantly mention you on Twitter. Who has your back when a troll is being extra troll-ey.
It's not thousands of people, not millions of people. No, it's just a few, or often one person.
Dear reader: this guide contains links to products I may be compensated for should you purchase them, at no extra cost to you.
Keep your eyes open for the true fans.
They're the fans who will help the fire of your idea, product or service burn hotter. They're most likely to provide feedback, ask for interesting new features, and spread the word about your work -- and spend the most money with you.
But they can also be the most demanding. They're often finicky, fickle... moody. And while on the surface, it may seem like urging these "weirdos" will be a waste of time.
It isn't, and you have to give them more attention; empower them.
How to stay on the lookout for them
This is actually obvious but easily overlooked (because hey, we all get swamped). Pay attention.
Watch Twitter for mentions of your brand. Including searches for misspellings of your brand name just in case. Over time you'll start to recognize the ones who are mentioning you more than others.
Do the same thing on Facebook or Instagram. Believers in your work who are leaving comments on your posts are at the very least interacting with you and responsive.
Do you know where they hang out on other sites? For instance, small, inspired bootstrappers may be on the Indiehackers website. Follow the community, participate, and pay attention to those who mention you.
Leave breadcrumbs to lead potential fans to you
If you aren't picking up on potential true fans from searching social media networks and forums, maybe you can leave some breadcrumbs to find them.
This means starting conversations to entice responses from anyone who knows your work, or may even those that do not -- but are interested in what you do.
Things like surveys work well for this, especially if they are multi-step surveys that end with additional steps one could take to connect with your work.
You won't see many that take the extra steps, but those that do are good candidates to watch.
Any way you find them, keep an eye on them. They may not be the super-fan just yet, but they are at least on the road to becoming one. While they may eventually reach super fandom on their own, it's best if you spot them early and give them a gentle nudge to true fandom.
Once you are aware of them the next step begins: nurture.
Nurture responsive fans into superfans.
What do you give responsive fans to grow and nurture them into true fans?
This will depend on your work and who you are seeking to change with your work.
Giveaways, big discounts, or lifetime deals
Can you afford to give something of value to the fans? Or perhaps a big discount that is only available to them? Maybe you could take it one step further and offer them a lifetime deal.
No matter what you can offer them, it must be something they feel they are getting because they are deeply interested fans of your work and that nobody else other than fans like them have the opportunity. They should feel they are indeed receiving something unique.
I think Danny Postma, the creator of Headlime, did a great job with this. He launched with a limited number of lifetime deals available and then participated in Twitter conversations the entire time. Not only was the launch a success, but he gained fans along the way.
By the way, if you want help with headlines, emails, landing pages, and more... including GPT3-AI generated copy, you'll definitely want to check out Headlime. It's an incredible deal that has helped me tremendously along the way.
Actually talk to them; give them attention
If you are a small company that cannot afford to give high-value, related items or huge margin-breaking discounts -- then spend time just talking with them. Ask them what they like about your work -- what value do they receive?
Or just say hi and ask if there is anything you can do for them. In a word: engage.
This is something John @YenFTW does very well. When you follow him he'll say hi and ask if there is something he can do for you. It's open-ended, feels authentic, and entices engagement. Perfect!
This is easy to do, but easy to not do as well. Or to grow complacent with as you find yourself busy with other things. But is most rewarding when you consistently engage.
Give your best fans titles & responsibilities
Over time as you begin to trust them more, you can even give them titles like "brand ambassador". Maybe they could even have moderator benefits over some of your communities. Just give them a sense of responsibility for the work they love.
These responsibilities will not only benefit you but give them a small sense of ownership, maybe even pride in what they can offer you in return for the work, the value, you give them.
You'll make them feel special.
Best of all title are free. But people sure do love titles don't they?
What are the benefits of super fans?
I think you can probably figure this part out. Your real fans will do all kinds of things for you, and even surprise you with things that you didn't think about yourself.
They'll brag about your service, or buy more copies of your book to share with friends. They'll talk about you outside the normal platforms were you hang out.
Much like a canary in a coal mine, your true fans will quickly point out problems and issues that you can resolve quickly, whereas normal users would simply wait or become angry.
Flip it around. Is there a product or service you enjoy so much you fanboi over them a bit too? That you would tell anyone about who should know about it? There's a chance you're their true fan. 😉
Real, true fans are different than followers.
Most of the time, followers are just there so they can listen to your message. And while sometimes they'll respond, most of the time, they're just passively listening (which is a big reason you need to communicate constantly). And likes don't count.
But not your super fans.
You can rely on them when you need immediate and responsive feedback. Maybe you have a new idea for your service and you weren't sure if you should really dive into it -- your true fans will help you make critical decisions.
This is why it is important to find and nurture your true fans. Not to mention that in the beginning, they are probably the ones who were buying your product first, too.
Build systems to automate monitoring for your brand
You don't have to wait until you're popular and show signs of success. Build systems and policies right away to be ready when the true fans start showing up.
Use a tool like BrandMentions to handle the monitoring for you. While it is a bit pricy, you will gain superpowers for watching your brand online as it will not only check social media for you. It will scour every inch of the internet it can and notify you when your brand is mentioned.
You'll gain the ability to interact with your potential fans. And almost as important, you'll discover new places where your brand is being discussed. And if you're not there already, you can join and interact.
You'll need more than a tool, though. Plan what you will do for fans, how you will nurture them. Write it into a policy you can return to when you need or train others in your organization.
Start now, take action
From the moment you put your work out there for someone, you should think about how you monitor for those most interested in it. And what you will do when you find them.
Hopefully this guide has convinced you how super fans can help, how you can identify them, and how to nurture them into true fans.