Building True Communities

Photo by Anthony DELANOIX on Unsplash

When people ask what I do, and I usually answer ‘Digital Marketing’ — I’ve found that to be only a partial answer. I don’t really ‘do’ digital marketing (what does that even mean?) —instead, I help build and engage communities (I just happen to do it through the use of digital marketing tools).

I believe in building true communities of real fans. While most people spend their time worrying about the number of followers they have on each page — I care more about the number of true followers (not bots) that engage and care about what you have to say. Do they share the same views? Are they swayed by your opinions or thoughts? Will they buy your products?

A huge follower number is great to a certain extent, but are they really your fans if they don’t care about what you have to say? In most cases it’s just a vanity number (it looks good, but little more). If it’s a following built of hacks and bots, they deliver zero value — if anything, the algorithms are going to punish you for having so many non-engaging fans. This is why I spend a lot of time telling marketing managers that they should delete non-engaged bots from their page — it will only lead to actual meaningful and useable results.

If you’ve read Kevin Kelly’s infamous essay — you will know that you only need 1,000 true fans to make a living (the number changes depending on several factors, but in most cases this number holds true). True fans are the ones that actually care about you. They will travel 2 hours to see you in person. They will buy the ebook you just published even though you have a free blog with similar content. They will buy your artwork sight unseen. They are the fan base that you need to build up and own.

1,000 fans isn’t a number that’s even that scary. If you add 1 fan a day, you’ll have reached this target within 3 years. This true fan number isn’t a crazy one, and if you put in the effort you’ll reach 1,000 in a much shorter time.

Having a small fan base is a blessing. You’re able to do things that don’t scale — and there’s no better time to do it. This means that you’ll be able to really engage with your audience and talk to them, get to know them and address their actual concerns. They’ll have ideas to share, and can actually make life easier, but ONLY if you engage with them because you care.

You don’t want a million fans right away, you want 1,000 true fans. It doesn’t mean that you have to stop once you reach a 1,000, in fact your next 1,000 will come a lot easier as your ‘day-one’ fans will vouch for you and help you achieve your goals.

Imaging the difference between having 1,000 fans who love what you do and talk about you, over 5,000 fans who care enough just to click ‘LIKE’ or ‘FOLLOW’ but won’t do much beyond that. Which would you rather have?

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 344,974+ people.

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