Don’t focus on followers; cultivate fans. Or better yet, turn followers into fans.
That was the message of a recent social media video Chris and I produced. Viewers immediately posed the question: “How?”
In a world that makes a big deal of how many followers your social media accounts have, the idea of cultivating fans can seem underwhelming or elusive. Why wouldn’t you rather have 10,000 followers instead of 1,000 fans? Seems pretty clear: 10,000 is greater than 1,000, right?
Here’s the difference. Followers are people who have clicked on the “follow” button. They enjoy your posts and even chuckle at your images, but they aren’t connected to your message.
Fans are those who want to hear from you and are ready to invest—emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and even financially—in your message. They’re the ones who will buy your book, join your book launch team, and send your book to the best-seller position.
A relationship like this doesn’t usually happen all at once. It takes time. You must cultivate that relationship. Let’s look at four ways you can begin the process of turning your followers into fans.
1. Understand your audience
Take some time to consider who your audience is. We find it helpful to give imaginary person, or avatar, a name. That has helped us to stop thinking of that person in the abstract and instead think of him/her as a real person.
To help you create an avatar, we’ve created a downloadable Ideal Reader Worksheet that will ask questions about your audience so you can zero in on ways to write to them and for them and connect with them through social media and your website.
Depending on your book and your message you may have more than one ideal reader. That’s understandable. To start with, though, identify your preferred reader and speak to that person in your social media.
2. Create consistent social media content
Social media managers agree that consistency wins out. People need to hear from you regularly. That’s not easy if you have anything else going on in your life, so here are some hacks that we’ve implemented to help us with this.
A social media manager like Socialbee allows you to preschedule content over several platforms. You upload your posts once and Socialbee sends them to multiple sites whenever you want them sent. You don’t even have to visit those sites it you don’t want to.
3. Create short videos
Short 15- to 30-second videos are the current social media trend when it comes to turning followers into fans. TikTok, Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts give preferential treatment in their algorithms to short videos, sharing them with people who don’t yet know you. We’re finding that the shorter the video, the more views they’re getting.
As we’ve said, your goal doesn’t end with followers. Think of it as if you’ve knocked on their door. With a follow they’ve opened the door. A fan is as if they’ve invited you in for dinner.
4. Collect readers’ email
Collecting an email address is a powerful step to turning a follower into a fan.
How do you get people to hand over their email addresses? You offer something of value. If you’ve ever visited a website because you wanted a recipe or a coupon or an e-book, you understand this exchange. You wanted something for free. The site gave it to you when you gave it your email.
For the nonfiction writer, this can be:
- A series of question readers can use to sharpen their skills or understand your message better.
- A list of resources.
- A short teaching.
- Or some other helpful tool.
For the fiction writer, it can be:
- A short story
- The first book in a series.
Once you’ve collected an email address, you can keep a reader informed about your writing process, release dates of future books, any speaking events you have, or updates about news that would interest them.
Turn Your Followers Into Fans!
Let these tips be the beginning of your journey to turn your followers into diehard fans. And if you’ve found other tips that you can share with us, please comment below, email us or contact us through social media. We’d love to hear from you!