[Editors Note: This article was written by Suzanne Paulinski.]
With the ever-looming pressure to get as many followers, likes, and retweets as possible, it can be easy to lose sight and neglect the followers you already have.
Josh Spector, a writer for Medium and founder of For the Interested, discusses the importance of mindset around growing your following in his post, You’d Have a Lot More Followers If You Acted Like You Only Needed 10.
In the post he points out that if you get so caught up in chasing numbers, rather than engaging with the people currently trying to engage with you, you will never reach you goal of building a loyal, energetic, supportive following. Numbers don’t buy tickets to shows, people do.
He poses the question, “What would you do differently if you only needed 10 true fans to succeed?”
That’s not to say that you don’t continue to attract new fans and only try to sell to 10 people, quite the contrary.
Asking yourself that question forces you to focus more on great content and less on how many people it’s going to reach. In doing so, you will attract a larger audience.
It’s like dating – you won’t find someone to connect with if you’re out at every bar desperately trying to find someone who will date you. By being yourself and focusing on your goals you will attract the right people to you, and before you know it you’ll have more dates than you know what to do with! But back to the music…
Think back to an artist or band you couldn’t live without growing up. Didn’t you feel once others started to catch on that those new fans were “posers” or not true fans? Did part of you feel responsible for helping put that artist on the map? Maybe you even thought that artist you liked “sold out” since they got so popular?
Understand that those in your community who are already commenting, sharing, and buying tickets to your shows or contributing to your crowdfunding efforts are becoming your super fans, and rather than solely looking ahead to collect more fans, it’s important that you take time to show them appreciation.
While it’s always important to set new goals, look ahead, and continue to grow, it’s also crucial not to treat your fans as merely numbers that only matter once there are “enough” of them.
Believe it or not, you have “enough” now; enough to start connecting on a deeper level, enough to start to create interesting ways to thank them for their support, and enough to celebrate the community that’s being built around your talent and message.
Stop waiting for a larger number. That number is not what is going to attract new fans, but rather the actions you take with the number you have will.
Cyber PR, a premiere public relations firm in the music industry, recently wrote a blog series delineating your three communities of fans. When it comes to super fans, they suggest you put your focus on (1) being remarkable (aka, do and create things worth remarking about), (2) creating a strong live show (as super fans are the ones that will make the effort to show up) and (3) capture your fans’ data (as super fans are a “warm audience” who want to hear from you).
Give yourself permission to ignore the vanity metrics for a bit (follows/unfollows, likes, hearts, etc.) and focus more on engagement with your current fanbase. What do they like? What don’t they like? What brought them on as your fan? Who else do they listen to on a regular basis and why?
The beauty of spending time engaging with your super fans is that these are the folks who a actually WANT to (and will) engage with you! It’s not going to be for nothing, it’s not going to be you speaking out into the ether, it’s not going to be one-word, vague answers to your questions.
Not only will this build your confidence after so much time focusing on how many people unfollowed or unsubscribed to your list, but it will also allow your super fans to feel listened to and they, in turn, will tell their friends about it. You are setting an example for how your community is treated and how you lead them.
When you post online and show love to your current fanbase, no matter the size, others will be watching. Many will become fans simply by admiring how well you treat the ones you already have.
The simple act of giving someone your undivided attention can open yourself up to new opportunities, a new sense of self, and an organically-growing fanbase of more engaged fans.
Building a career in music has a lot of moving pieces. Many different areas of your music and the business of that music will need your attention at any given time. However, never lose sight of the fact that your super fans are the ones who enable you to have a career in the first place.
Make sure that when things get busy they are still a top priority. As they say, actions speak louder than words. Lead with gratitude and service to them and you’ll send a message to new fans that your community is the place to be, without the need for hard sells and repeated promos.
Always remember fans respond to action, not numbers. Don’t get so caught up in trying to impress industry leaders or labels with your stats that you start seeing your fans as stats instead of humans who want to connect with you and your music.
Putting the fans first will always put you on the right path to creating an engaged, supportive, and loyal following who will keep your career going with or without a label.
Not sure how to get started? Pick 5-10 fans who are regularly engaging with your content and make an effort this week to start engaging back with them. Tell us in the comments one action you’ll take this week to show them extra love!
Suzanne Paulinksi is an artist consultant with over 10 years in the music industry and owner of The Rock/Star Advocate