I’m Nothing Without My Fans (Blog World 2010)
This is a summery of the presentation by Patrick O’Keefe, Wayne Sutton, D.A. Wallach, and Asher Roth at the 2010 Blog World Expo.
When you gain a following, regardless of what industry you’re in it is easy to forgot about the people that visit your site. How can you do this? Well first off, remember that your fans are people too. They don’t stop as numbers on your follower counter, but persist into the real world and they need to be a priority. But how do you make your fans a priority and keep your life in balance?
It is essential to strike a balance in your life. Fans are awesome and can do many things for your, but if you give everything about yourself away, you can lose yourself. So keep the things that are important to you to yourself. The things you share with your fans though should be open and allow them control. Your fans have the power to spread your influence, if you let them work through you. Let them provide feedback and make them feel like they are a part of a larger community of like-minded people. Doing so will not only make your fans feel appreciated, but it will give you an idea of what your fans really want from you and can provide an awesome sounding board for ideas and at the same time give yourself an air of approachability, something that your fans will desperately want.
So how do you know how much to share? Reflect on your image. There are some people who’s image is based on approachability and being an “everyman.” If that is you, then feel free to tweet and Facebook your fans all you want. If your image is more mysterious (more Ozzie Osborne than Jack Johnson) find an alternative persona that can do more of your interactions online. Maintain your image by controlling what you share and what you keep to yourself, but at the same time, never forget that you are a person, and never let your audience forget that you are a person. Be a fan of someone else, and treat your fans the way you want that person to treat you.
While you need to be accessible to your audience, you also need to take the time to remember that you are not talking to just your friends. The moment you hit publish or upload, your content is viewable by the world, so be aware of what you say and do because it will be recorded somewhere. So stay away from politics (unless you are a political figure) and keep your content in line, separate your business and party personas online and remember that how you say things matters.
No matter how you approach your online presence, be careful not to get too wrapped up. Realize that social media is not your life and that no matter what you do, there will always be haters. Be open to feedback and realize that not everyone who has a negative opinion is trying to attack you. Some people just like to be negative because they can be known as a negative person. Even more people are simply trying to provide criticism and doing it badly, so keep your mind open and appreciate that your fans are being honest with you, after all, it is very hard to make progress when you are surrounded by yes men, celebrate the criticism.
The take home message is to appreciate your fans. Don’t freak out about trademark when a fan tries to celebrate your work. Use them for good. Reward them for their thoughts and learn to love the spontaneity that comes with having a following. Don’t use your fans to attack others and don’t mislead them. Appreciate them for all they can do.
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