Identify Your Fans and Superfans

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the Definition of fan:

1 : an enthusiastic devotee (as of a sport or a performing art) usually as a spectator. 

2 : an ardent admirer or enthusiast
(as of a celebrity or a pursuit)

     Ever watch a fabulous movie or finish an amazing book and now you want to share the experience with someone else. The story may be over, but the emotion it created lingers and you want to discuss it with someone else who shares your feelings. And so a fan is birthed.

     But like any relationship, there must be ongoing connection or it will be lost. 

     As an author, your fans come because of content. Whether you are a fiction or non-fiction writer, your fans appreciate the content and world you have created. You have touched an emotion or filled a need. And at that point, they will stick around at least long enough to see if you have more. So provide more and allow the relationship to build.

     One current example of this is the final season of the PBS series Downton Abbey. Some fans are already grieving the loss of the "family" created in this series. A tea shoppe in my local area decided to make use of this opportunity and has created a Downton Abbey High Tea so fans can come together in a shared  experience the night before the showing of the last episode.

Some patrons will dress up in costume. Food items from the show will be highlighted on the menu and a gathering and experience has been created for fans to share and linger over together. It's a brilliant move on the part of the tea shoppe as they fill their dining area with a themed meal, gather possible new clients and a warm fun atmosphere...along with profits.

And truly isn't that our goal? To fill a need, provide a fun or helpful atmosphere and see profit---so you can continue writing?

When you find you have a fan, it's not so different from a friend. You need to let them know that you value them.

Our Super Fans are the same but are even more faithful and willing to engage and bring other friends along and with social media they are easier to locate than ever. They are incredible, valuable, and often energetic, so is it possible to engage them further?

     So how do you know you have a fan and how can they become Super Fans? 

* Fans/Friends will consistently "like" your posts and content. They want to help and want to let you know they are willing to help.

* Purchasing Fans do just that. Not only are they willing to go on the record to "like" your comments, but they are willing to purchase your material or download your content.

* Proactive Fans not only purchase but they will post reviews and announcements on their pages for you.

* Super Fans are the final stage and most valuable as they are willing to try to bring their friends into the picture and into your world. Don't we wish we could engage all our readers to this level?

So how can we build both our Fan base and our Super Fan base? Here are a few tips.

1. Engage & Announce.
Promotion is uncomfortable for most of us, but a necessary component. If people don't know your book is available, they won't buy it or read it. The initial step starts with you. If you have a publisher then they should be working in tandem with you. But you cannot leave this step up to them. You are the catalyst. Craft an announcement prior to your release and begin to build momentum.

2. Ask.
Ask your friends and those who have already let you know they are "fans" to help you by posting a review on their website, on your website, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon or anywhere else they have connections. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising.

3. Create 2-way conversations
Be sure to engage in the discussion whether that is your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or comments following a published article. Even be willing to start the conversation.

4. Provide compelling and ongoing content.
Remember the feeling once you have finished an amazing book, but have questions about "what comes next?" This can happen with both fiction and non-fiction and opportunities for readers to have these questions answered is easier than ever with social media. Provide opportunities for them to share their story, provide a different ending. Invite them to share their thoughts, their favorite character, their most important need.

5. Encourage conversation between fans.
Facebook provides this opportunity as do the ongoing comments to an article. These can be encouraged to continue by strategic responses and input from us. Even negative comments can be engaged to solicit additional responses if handled with care...and if you don't mind wading into those waters. 

6. Create an event or experience.
Number three and number four can actually be combined as in the example above of the Downton Abbey Tea. And while we all would wish for such a large response to our stories, remember experiences can be created on smaller scales by reaching in and touching emotions whether that is joy or pain. For a reader in pain and in need of help (non-fiction books primarily), reach out and provide that. Let them know you are there.

7. Thank them and reward them.
If you have readers willing to assist you in getting the word out on your book, let them know that you see them and appreciate their help. Don't let them go unnoticed. Rewards of free downloads, exclusive articles, a free book or small gift depending on their level of assistance, are all nice gestures to let them know they are a valuable part of your team.

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