True Fans, as described by Kevin Kelly and explored further by Seth Godin, are a Good Thing. In fact, they could be one of the best things that ever happened to your business, so long as you know how to recognise them and what to do with them.
A true fan is not to be confused with a loyal customer, long-standing corporate relationship or your mum. True fans are motivated by a strong belief in your organisation or product, and the desire to share it – completely independently and without the promise of overt reward. But they’re not completely selfless. They want to share the story because they genuinely believe that they, and their audience will benefit in some way.
Spotting the Good Thing
Who are your business’ true fans? Who talks about you and your service or product positively? Who introduces you to interesting people, or offers valuable feedback, advice or ideas? Who bothers to read your blog posts, share them and comment on them? Who feeds back, helps expand your ideas by joining in the conversation and offering thoughtful perspectives? Who is cheering you on, displaying a genuine interest in your success? Who is spontaneously and independently spreading the word, sharing your message? Who believes in you?
Nurture, leverage, reward
Whether you have one true fan or thousands, what’s vital is that you know what to do with them. True fans are a valuable asset to any company – perhaps more so that you realise. So, it’s critical that you seize the initiative to nurture these relationships, leverage them and reward them.
Once you’ve spotted a good thing, here’s the very least you need to do:
- Say thank you. Acknowledge the value of your true fans’ support – individually (all true fans have different motivations and benefit you in varying ways) and honestly. They may not know they are a true fan, and may be unaware of their value. By acknowledging them as the hero they are, they have an additional motivation to continue supporting you.
- Ask for advice and opinions. Use your true fans as a testing board – and be prepared to act on their feedback. Here you have a ready-made community of people who care, are engaged and who know what they are talking about.
- Make it easy for them to share your story, and to add value to their own communities and peer groups. At Wisdom London, we’re big fans of creating content that we think our various audiences (including true fans) will find useful and hopefully like. And if they find it useful and like it, they’ll share it. It’s a the perfect win-win.
- Don’t forget to take it offline. Relationships can and do flourish online and especially through social media (which is likely where you’ll be able to spot a lot of your true fans). But taking it offline, making it personal and real, is where even more value can be established and relationships cemented. They guy who often comments on your blog posts, the tweeple who consistently RT and Follow Friday you, the contact who emails you links to interesting articles – surely you owe them a coffee, or a phone call to say hi in person? And…
- Act like a true fan to others. You’ll see by now that a virtuous circle is easily created. You have nothing to lose by taking the time to support the brands, businesses and people you love by being generous with your comments, advice, contacts, ideas, content – and everything to gain.
Kate Spiers is founder of Wisdom London. Wisdom London’s true fans – whether they know it or not – are numerous, generous and hugely appreciated, every single day.