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Pat Flynn, CEO of Flynndustries, host of Smart Passive Income and author of Superfans, discusses how you can transform your followers, subscribers and customers into superfans.
Master the Pyramid of Fandom
Building a loyal follower base is no easy feat. It takes time, dedication and strategy to create and retain fans that will follow you no matter what. However, you’ll never build a loyal fan base without mastering the “pyramid of fandom.”
Pat Flynn, the CEO of Flynndustries, claims that fans aren’t created the moment people find you. They’re created by the moments you create for them over time. If you want to move fans from casual audience members to superfans who put your brand on blast every chance they get, you’ve got to put the work in.
Your superfans are your biggest supporters. They’ll promote your brand far and wide, tell their friends about you and engage with you in many different ways. Your superfans are out there, you just need to connect with them and provide them with magical moments that keep them coming back for more.
In This Episode:
- 06:19 – What the pyramid of fandom is and how to nurture fans to become superfans
- 12:23 – The progression of going from zero to superfan and tips to accelerate fans up the pyramid
- 24:31– How to get customers more involved and engaged
- 30:58 – Why you should focus on one social channel to connect with your superfans instead of trying to master all of them at once
- 33:22– The dark side of building fans and common pitfalls to avoid
- 39:46 – The importance of multimedia when it comes to building a following of superfans
Quotes From This Episode:
“The most important sector of your audience are the superfans and the funny thing is when you build for just the superfan experience as a byproduct, you will grow your pyramid.” – @PatFlynn
The more you can understand your audience, the better everything is going to be...and the easier it will be for people to connect with you. Click To Tweet
“If you were to go against what they have come to know you for, then of course, they can come down the pyramid and not be a fan anymore.” – @PatFlynn
- Get the new State of Marketing report for free from Salesforce
- Find out more about the community at SocialMedia.org with a special form for Social Pros listeners
- Learn more about Pat Flynn’s new tech gadget, Switchpod, the minimal, versatile, handheld tripod
- Find out more about Smart Passive Income and tune into the podcast
- Read Pat Flynn’s new book, Superfans and claim your super bonuses!
- Find out more about Emma’s email marketing platform
We need to be there just like a waiter is there when I’m drinking my water and it’s not even halfway full yet, they’re already refilling it for me, without me even asking. And using these opportunities and these tools for us to dig our well now before we’re thirsty is what this is about. Because if you’re digging your well and you’re thirsty already, meaning you have an agenda in your reach out to people other than to say thanks and make them feel special, well, it’s kind of too late.
Well, Adam Brown, I’m always thirsty, but that is great advice from this week’s guest, Pat Flynn.
Yeah, Pat Flynn quenches a lot of the thirsts of how to create fans, how to nurture super fans, and really, this whole idea of what we talk about time and time again about authenticity and genuineness and finding and embracing your biggest champions.
Such an inspirational episode this week. Everybody who listens to the show, who’s ever listened to the show, who is a social media professional in any way, shape, or form will be inspired by what Pat has to say, because it brings us back to our roots. As I mentioned in the episode, it’s called social media, and it’s supposed to be about the social. But today, it’s too often about the media, and Pat talks about how to get back to where we came from and his book Superfans is a fantastic user guide to do just that.
It is, and Jay, you and I both get a lot of advance copies of books, I actually bought this book and it was so worth every single dollar I spent on it. This is one of the best books I’ve read in recent memory.
It’s a keeper, for sure. Before we get into this episode with Mr. Pat Flynn, just a quick acknowledgement of our sponsors this week, we really appreciate each and every one of them. We really appreciate you guys as well for listening to the show, now seven and a half years’ worth, which is quite a run. Show brought to you by Salesforce Marketing Cloud, where Adam is the executive strategist. Adam and his team interviewed more than 4,000 marketers to really get a handle on what the key trends are in 2019 AI, big topic in marketing, AR and VR, social media, especially for B to B, community management, all of those topics are in there, incredible research, great for you to build in a presentation, show your boss, excellent stuff.
It’s called the State of Marketing Report. You can get it, doesn’t cost you anything, which is awfully kind of them, if you go to bit.ly/jaysays, that’s B-I-T.L-Y/J-A-Y-S-A-Y-S, bit.ly/jaysays. Thanks as always to our friends at Salesforce, and also the show this week is brought to you by our friends at Emma down there in Nashville, Tennessee, terrific email service provider, many of you listening to the show are in charge of email in your companies or know somebody who is in charge of it, and I think we all know that email’s got to keep getting better and better.
It’s still the core of what we do in digital marketing in a lot of ways, and sometimes you need help, right? You need help making your emails look better, perform better, AB testing, whatever your deal is, and what’s cool about Emma, not only do they give you the tools to do great email, but they’re staffed with real-life human beings who are actually delighted to help. You can actually call them and talk to a person on the phone, which is not always easy in this day and age and we really like those guys, they’re a terrific supporter of the show. We appreciate them very much.
To hear more about Emma, see what they can do for your email program, give them a shot, won’t you? I’d really appreciate that. Go to myemma.com/jayisawesome, myemma.com/jayisawesome, and hear more about what they can do for your email program. Let’s get right into this week’s episode with Pat Flynn, author of Superfans.
You heard his brilliant system a moment ago, ladies and gentlemen, I am totally pumped to have on the show this week one of my favorite human beings and a truly impressive individual, he is the host of Smart Passive Income, one of the most successful podcasts in the whole land, he is also the founder of the amazing new technology gadget called the SwitchPod, we’ll talk about that a little bit, and most importantly, he is author of the extraordinary, and I don’t use that word lightly, new book called Superfans, the easy way to stand out, grow your tribe, and build a successful business.
I got to tell you, Pat Flynn, thank you first of all for being here, and second, I mentioned this to Adam last week after we closed off the recording, I think this is the best book on community management ever written.
I think it is absolutely extraordinary.
I get sent books constantly, and I skim them, and this book I have read cover to cover, word for word, and I’m going to start over at the beginning, because I learned a ton in the book Superfans. So friends, listen, if you can hear my voice, go out and get this one. I really, really encourage you to pick up a copy of Superfans. You are going to learn a lot. If you like this podcast, you’re going to love the book. Pat, congratulations on writing something that’s going to help a ton of people.
Thank you so much. And I have to thank you as well for helping to inspire me to write it. It was actually, this book was a result of a number of presentations that I got a lot of great feedback about, and you pulled me aside after one of these presentations in San Diego, and you said, “Pat, this content that you just presented about, it has to be in a book.” And that planted the seed that then led to, yes, three years later, finally publishing it, but very happy I did it and so far the response has been just off the charts, and I think this is one of those books that will be timeless, because it does have stuff about the technology we’re using today, but the principles behind it are absolutely timeless.
And it’s funny, because in the book, and as you know, it’s not really anything new. It’s not some innovative brand new strategy. It’s actually taking old strategies that have always worked and then bringing them back to light and helping us remember why we do what we do and the fact that there are human beings on the other end and how it takes time for them to want to love us and have us become their favorite, and just really goes back to those roots.
Yeah, it really is a dance. It’s a dating game, and it did remind me of the early days of social media when it was more about the social and less about the media, and I had about the same reaction, right? Reading this book reminded me of the old days when we’d actually hang out with people on Twitter, and the things that seem to have largely gotten lost along the way, they still work and this book absolutely proves it and it provides a fantastic recipe for that. Pat, I think it would be good for us to start off having you explain the Pyramid of Fandom to our listeners so they can kind of understand that people don’t just show up and become super fans. They have to be nurtured the same way you’d nurture a lead or relationship.
Absolutely. So I say fans aren’t created the moment people find you, they’re created by the moments you create for them over time. And it’s just like when you hear a great song for the first time. You’re not immediately a fan of that band because you’ve likely never heard of them before. But you’re kind of getting interested and then you go deeper, and all of a sudden you’ve got the album and then you get tickets to the concert and then all of a sudden, you’re backstage with them and then paying thousands of dollars to get behind the scenes passes and all this stuff.
So this is like the progression, and it’s funny because we can all create fans. It doesn’t matter what kind of business we have, we can have fans just like the Backstreet Boys would or Harry Potter does and what have you, and it really is all about this pyramid, because in the pyramid, if you consider this pyramid, if you imagine one, that’s your overall user base and how much they are a fan of you. And it always is largest at the bottom, and the bottom is what I like to call your casual audience members. Most of the people who find us, come across our stuff, are people who just casually found us, whether it’s a link on another website, a Google search, or just random happenstance, but it’s funny because that’s where most people spend their time. They spend their time trying to grow that part. Let’s get new traffic via STO, let’s do social media so we can get more new people finding us. Like let’s grow more traffic, more, more, more.
But I am encouraging people to convert those casual audience members into the next level, which is the active audience member, and that is somebody who is now subscribed, who knows who you are, they know you exist, when you come out with something new, they make a decision. Should I dive into that or not? If not, no worries, I’ll try something next time. And then our drive is to move people from there further up the pyramid, less people percentage-wise, but higher engagement, and that’s in our connected community. And this is where the magic happens in our brands, because this is where people not just are talking to you and you’re talking to them, but they’re talking and identifying with each other. This is where you start to see communities that actually have names for themselves, like you know, Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters and Beyonce’s Beehive and Justin Bieber’s Beliebers and the One Direction’s Directioners and all that kind of stuff.
We can have similar things, so I have, for example, Team Flynn, John Lee Dumas has Fire Nation, and any community can have a name and have that feeling of belonging, that sense of belonging creates that oh, that’s my place, that’s my people, and of course, you are the leader of those people and that gives you and your brand more authority, and then from there, you have the smallest chunk but the most powerful chunk which is the super fans at the top, and these are the people who, like our good friend Kevin Kelly says in his essay 1,000 True Fans, these are the people who would travel 10 hours by car just to see you play a couple songs because you’re a musician, or if you are a product owner or a creator, they’re going to stand in line waiting outside to buy that product before they even know what it is. They don’t even care. They just love you so much, or they’ll pay tens of thousands of dollars for your stuff.
And the cool thing is, when you think about this, it’s like okay, if you would actually flip this pyramid upside down, it looks like something that a lot of us are very familiar with, which is a funnel, right? Which is the biggest chunk at the top, which is all the traffic, and then hopefully some of them, a percentage of them, go to a sales page, a percentage of them go and become a customer, and funnels are important. They’re great conversion rates, there’s numbers there, it’s fun, it’s exciting, but the problem with that is when you think of a real funnel, we just think, “Okay, if we pour water at the top, it’s going to automatically come out the bottom.” This is like, gravity. Gravity’s working in our favor.
But the truth is, especially now, we have to start thinking about the opposite, which is the Pyramid of Fandom, we got to go up the funnel, essentially. And there’s gravity working against us. We have to work even harder to create those experiences that will move people up to the point where they become super fans, and the beauty of super fans is you don’t need very many of them to do some amazing things to help support you. They’re going to buy every product you come out with, they’re going to be ambassadors for you, a part of your marketing team without you having to pay for them, and they’re going to defend you from trolls, they’re going to be the first to let you know when something’s wrong. I mean, the most important sector of your audience are the super fans, and the funny thing is, when you build for just the super fan experience as a byproduct, you will grow your pyramid.
Those funnels will work. Your traffic will increase and so forth.
Just recently, as we were recording this episode, Pat, we saw an example of two sort of super fan bases being engaged at the same time with the Popeyes chicken sandwich rollout and then Chick-Fil-A’s got their chicken sandwich and the super fans are duking it out on Twitter and I just saw an article a second ago that they sold out of chicken sandwiches nationally in 15 days.
Those poor chickens.
They couldn’t even … Exactly. The real loser here is chicken. But that they couldn’t even deal with the supply chain because people went so crazy about it, that doesn’t happen if people are just, have no opinion about Popeyes, right?
People who are into it are super into it, and they have cultivated that base carefully for a long time.
They have strong feelings about it. You see this in music, too. Backstreet Boys versus NSYNC. And it’s funny because I tell a story in the book about the Backstreet Boys, who I’m very familiar with not because I’m a fan, but because my wife is a super fan, to the point where she literally has a giant box in her closet full of bobble heads, action figures of the boy band. Like it’s kind of ridiculous. And it was actually her story that taught me the sort of sequence of events that happened in her life that very much mirrors what a good business does, down to the very first time she recognized a song and paid attention to it, it was because she had just gone through a breakup and they were saying things in their song called Quit Playing Games with My Heart that was like, literally what she was going through in her life at that time.
And that was that initial trigger moment to go oh, that’s … I need to pay more attention to them. And then it was the album, the concert, the backstage passes, and now even a mom of two and just much older now than when she was a teenager, still going to concerts and of course, they’re still selling out. It’s kind of insane.
And what do you think the appropriate time horizon is to work up that pyramid, right? So it takes somebody from they’ve heard of you to they’re going to buy a bobble head. Is that a year? Is that six months? Is that infinity? Does it totally different, so there’s no advice that you can give? What do you think?
It’s definitely not overnight, but it can happen sooner than later using a lot of the things I do talk about in the book, and a lot of it has to do with number one, making people feel like they belong somewhere. We’re all looking for people just like us. And you as the business owner or social media manager can create moments of connection between not just your company and your people, but your people with each other. Little things like events, online and offline, little meetups go a very long way with helping people feel like they’re a part of something and giving them an experience beyond just what a normal user or follower would have, and those little experiences go a very long way, and of course you can plan for that, you can schedule that in and have things move a little bit faster.
But if I were to put a mark on it, I would say you can have somebody become a fan in a relatively short period of time, in maybe just a couple months, two to three months, depending on your interactions, how they feel like they’re a part of something. I mean, I remember being a fan of the Golden State Warriors quite quickly because they were in a moment back in 2005 when they were in the championships when I was at school at Berkeley and just everybody talking about it, the game’s on TV, all the fervor and excitement during that time and just how incredible it was for the city, that added to the level of excitement and me becoming a fan of that team, it happened sooner than later because great things were going on and the community was coming together.
Pat, I’m going to echo what Jay said in the open, this is one of the best books I’ve read in quite some time, really, really enjoyed it. Over the past two days have read it cover to cover.
And really, I tell you, it reminded me a lot of books that I’ve read over the years, and one that kind of was meaningful to me was of course Guy Kawasaki and the Macintosh Way, who kind of coined that whole term of evangelist. I began to realize when reading your book how different, how same some of the strategies are, but the tactics are so different, and you’ve given us I think a whole new look at this and approach for this generation. I want to first ask you a followup on the question that Jay asked around timing for becoming a super fan.
You, in the book, kind of articulate those four steps as you just did from going from a casual to an active to a connected to a super fan. Can people jump in line? Can you go from zero to super fan or is there a logical necessary progression and are there kind of triggers or tells as you have your fans matriculate through that funnel?
Yeah, I mean, the book and the pyramid, it gives you a pathway, but people can definitely skip around and jump ahead. I also think what supports a little bit of acceleration with this is having your current fans invite people into the community. That way, you can even have people skip level one and level two and already become a part of the community because they already have a connection with somebody. They were invited there by somebody else. And that adds a lot of velocity to that, similar to how like if your dad invited you to a baseball game and you had no idea who this team was, the fact that your dad, who was a big fan and wearing all the gear and gave you a hat and all this stuff, like you’re immediately kind of by default a fan on day one, because of just the connection that you have through a person you know already who’s in that space.
But yeah, it can happen, and the other part about this is once they’re there, it’s not like they’re there forever. There’s work required to have a person remain a fan. There’s a consistency that’s required. There is an expectation of people who have a general feeling, and if you were to go against what they have come to know you for or do something that’s a little bit out of what they’ve come to love you for, then you know, of course they can come down the pyramid and not be a fan anymore. And we’ve seen this with television shows like the Walking Dead that had this amazing, huge fanbase and now, because of just certain things that happened in the show, killing off certain characters, you’re starting to see less and less chatter and less and less ratings for that show. And that’s just one of several examples of people who, or companies or brands that people loved and then don’t love as much anymore.
So there’s work required to even keep this up.
I think that’s an important point, is that super fandom can be fleeting. It’s much like any relationship, any marriage, you’ve got to invest time in it. For me, as I read this book and I’m sure as our listeners read this as social media professionals, they think of super fandom and they initially go, “Oh, we can’t do this. This is a lot of effort. This is a lot of expense,” in their perception, and I’m hoping you’re going to correct this, “because I’m going to need all this media buys and things like that and it’s going to take effort and expense.”
It does take effort, without a doubt, but I think one of the most interesting things and remarkable things for me is the recognition that this isn’t about media buys. In fact, media buys might even be the kryptonite to fandom, because of the authenticity and genuineness. But talk a little bit about how you can create super fans really, and creating them more one to one or one to many type of relationship, with these super fans for less than big budget dollars.
Yeah, you don’t need to pay money to build super fans. And actually, that’s the big misconception, is that this is going to take a lot of money to do. It does take time, it takes effort, but money, it does not. It takes care, it takes consideration, it takes just paying attention to the needs of your customers, your audience. A number … I mean, the book is literally just a list of all the different things you can do, and you can pick and choose the ones that kind of make sense for you, which is really great. Some of my favorite things to do are to highlight members of your community.
So one of the things that is great about a podcast, for example, is it gives you a platform to interview people, and a lot of people, I teach a lot of people how to podcast, and a lot of my podcasters go, “Oh, well how do I get this giant A-lister on my show? Like that big influencer, they’re going to give me a lot of clout, they’re going to bring a lot of new people.” And I’m like okay, well that’s great, but you know, you should interview your customers. You should interview your students, because guess what? They’re going to relate more to your customers and students versus some big A-lister who’s way out in the stratosphere already.
And so what we could do as social media managers, as creators, as business owners, is to highlight the people as a representative of everybody else in that community. It does a couple things, number one, it shows that you are recognizing the progress that certain people have been making in the community. Number two, it shows that you’re in tune with them, that you care about them. Number three, that person is going to be the most amazing, most authentic testimonial that you could ever ask for by giving them a little bit of spotlight, and that’s going to make everybody else feel like they’re a part of something and they’re going to root for each other, and that’s really what this is about: giving people something to root for, which is really key.
So highlighting community members is one way to do it. Like I mentioned earlier, having the ability to bring your community together in person or even online so that they can find each other and give those opportunities for communication is really key. I remember, and again, it doesn’t have to cost very much, I had gone to a conference a few years back and I rented out a restaurant for not that much money at all to just invite my community together and my fans came out and that was fun and I tried to meet everybody, which was cool, and then at the end of the night I met this woman who I didn’t see the entire night and I felt so terrible. I was like, “Oh no, she came all the way here and we didn’t even have a chance to chat.”
And I went up to her and I was like, “Hey, I’m sorry.” And she was like, “Pat, don’t take offense to this, but I wasn’t … I didn’t come here to see you.” And at first, I was like, “What?” Well, okay. And she was like, “No, no, no. I hear your voice literally every day. I listen to your podcast, I love your stuff, but I never get a chance to see and meet people just like me. And you’ve given that to me, and I wanted to take advantage of that, and I got to meet so many new friends here. I got to meet so many people.” And that was me, one person setting this up. There are other companies that are much bigger doing the very much the same thing.
Lego is doing this, actually. Lego focusing on fans saved them from bankruptcy. They were $800 million in debt in 2013 and now, they’re a $150 billion company, and it’s because their CEO shifted to fans and giving them and empowering them, enabling them, through a number of things, supporting them with meetups that their AFOLs or adult fans of Lego, they encouraged them to meet and they give them resources to do so, which makes them all love the brand even more. They encourage user-generated content, so they don’t go out there and say, “Hey, you can’t use Lego in my video, that’s copyright,” they go, “No, here, create videos with Lego. We’ll give you resources. Do this.” Because they all know it supports the brand.
And when you look up Lego on YouTube, there’s like 12 million videos of other people doing what? Playing with Lego, but also promoting Lego, showing their love for Lego, building the community of Lego, too. Another cool thing that Lego does that we could all do is empower our users or our customers or our followers by allowing them to help us make decisions, by giving them almost a sense of involvement, because when you get your audience and your community involved, they become invested, because they have a part, they have a stake now. So Lego does this by actually recruiting anybody, any Lego fan can create their own little Lego creation and put it up on Ideas.lego.com, and if the community votes the creations up enough, Lego will actually manufacture and build that creation with that person’s name on it and give that person a little bit of a royalty.
And that’s really cool. Obviously that might cost a little bit more money than, say, like the things that I’ve done and many other people we know have done, which is like hey, community, we’re coming out with a new book, here are three examples of covers that we might use for the book. Which one do you prefer? And then man, you’ve just given people permission to speak up and feel like they’re a part of something. So not only does that empower them, that enables them to be curious about well, what’s the end result going to be?
We see this a lot on YouTube with channels like Epic Rap Battles of History, they always at the end of every Epic Rap Battle of History, which literally takes two historical figures and they do a rap battle together, at the end they go, “Who’s next?” And then they have the whole community ask, or start to comment, you know, “Do this versus this. Like Mozart versus Justin Bieber.” Or whatever crazy idea, and at the start of every video, they literally show the comment that says, “Hey, guys, you’re the ones that decided this was the bout for this video.” And then just makes everybody feel like they’re a part of something, and again, when they’re involved, they’re invested. And when you can get your audience involved, even to a point where maybe you’re running an event and you want to have volunteers.
Volunteers become super fans way, way easier than many other people, because they’re a part of it and they feel like they’re a part of something, you’ve given them ownership a little bit, and now they’re inside deep with you and will love and support you for good.
I think one of the classic examples of what you were saying is Harley Davidson, right, and the Harley Owners Group and how Harley Davidson really is a product, right, but it is a lifestyle, it is a movement-
If you’re in that tribe, like you are in that tribe. No one’s half-pregnant riding a Harley. It just doesn’t work like that. And this idea of giving fans assignments instead of just collecting them like baseball cards is so true, and I love what you were talking about sort of interviewing the community essentially, which is frankly why this podcast started seven years ago, seven and a half years ago. The idea and the reason the tagline of the show is “real people doing real work in social media” is that there’s lots of shows that have authors, there’s also shows that have thought leaders like Pat Flynn on, and we do that on the show from time to time, but there’s no show other than our show that actually interviews a social media manager, which is usually what we do, week to week and why this show exists.
But to your point, Pat, listeners, just send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org, you know how to get ahold of me, email@example.com, if you want to be on the show, let me know. You got a good idea for somebody to be on the show, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll work it out-
… for sure. Pat, one of the things you talked about in the book is getting customers involved and one of the examples you use, I was so delighted to see it, it’s from my very, very good friend Steve Spangler, who I’ve spent lots of time with, and can you talk a little bit about Steve’s work and the one little shift that turned his business around?
Yeah, and this is an easy one that we can all start to do, which is really neat. I heard an interview on the Social Media Marketing Podcast with Michael Stelzner, and the guest was Steve Spangler, and I had actually known Steve through watching Ellen and several other TV shows because he’s this really cool, energetic guy who teaches people science, and he does it in a really fun, exciting, engaging way when he’s on TV. But he was talking about his YouTube channel and he was saying in the beginning with Sick Science, which was the YouTube channel, he was getting very little engagement, like hardly any whatsoever.
So he’d do a video where he would suck in air from a balloon and then his voice would be super low, and he would be like, “Well, this is what happened. This gas is called argon and you suck it in, it’s more dense,” he explained the whole thing, and then at the end of the video, he attempted to get comments by going, “What do you think? Leave a comment below.” Very common in the YouTube space, right? And of course, you would expect these kinds of comments, which is what he caught, “First” or “Where can I get that gas?” Or “Cool video” or “I’m going to try that.” That’s it.
He switched up his technique and it was a very small thing, but it meant big results, and what he did was in his next videos, he started to just do the experiments and then ask the audience, “Tell me why this happened. You tell me why this happened. I know why it happened, but I want to hear it from you.” And then the comments just exploded, meaning people were pulling out their science books and trying to come up with their best version, because you’ve given them a chance to come up with an answer.
I don’t know about you, Jay or Adam, but have you ever watched a game show by yourself, yet you’re still there shouting out the answer as if you’re going to win money?
That’s because we as humans love to know that we know the right answer. So when you as the creators or social media manager do these fun little things, which again, it doesn’t have to be very big, grand, or even cost any money, by allowing and giving permission to your community to be the ones to provide the best answer, you’re going to have everybody fight each other in a friendly way, hopefully, to come up with that answer, and then you can do what we talked about earlier, you highlight your favorite answer, and then you say them by name, by the way, shout out to Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People, the most beautiful sound to a person is their own name. So you can use that in combination with anything else we’re talking about here and it’s going to be a lot easier for you to build that community and build those fans.
I love that, and every single brand and manager listening to this episode can do that exact same thing, right? It requires no special skills, it’s just putting a little twist on how you produce content to allow the customers to be a part of it.
Right. And that can be scaled, which is really neat and really good. The other part of the book that I talk about near the end when we really get into some of the more fine-tuned strategies of super fans goes into the more individual attention, right? And the example I always use is if you’re going to bed every night with your spouse and you always say every single night, “Good night, honey, I love you.” Give them a kiss, “Good night, honey.” It just becomes expected. It becomes like a normal thing. It’s not less special, but it feels less special because it’s just what you do every day.
It’s the small, unexpected I love yous that go a very long way, right? To keep that relationship going, to keep the fire going, right? So it’s like you go into her office at 3:48 on a Tuesday with a little just candy and you just say, “Hey, this is for you because I love you.” And that’s it. No other agenda than just to say that, and then boom, you’re like oh my gosh, I wish my husband was so sweet, just like yours, oh my gosh, that’s incredible. Those little things become remembered, and in the social media space, we have the opportunity to do such things all the time.
Yet we’re spending zero time doing that. One quick thing we could do is on Instagram, for example, but you can do this on Facebook or Twitter, send a person, an individual, a private direct message with a video, and just say, “Hey, Jay, Pat here, just wanted to say thank you for following and if there’s anything I can do to help you, let me know. Hope you’re having a great day. Bye.” Say that person’s name, send them a personalized video, you’re more than likely going to get a crazy response, like, “Oh my gosh. I can’t believe I’m hearing from you.” Or “Wow, thank you so much for taking the time out.” And yeah, it was only eight seconds, but it can go such a long way in helping a person remember you and your brand because guess what? Nobody else is doing that. And it’s so easy.
There’s even other tools I’m using like Bonjoro is one, there’s another competitor to that called BombBomb, it doesn’t matter, they all do the same thing, which is where you can send based on if a new subscriber comes into your email list or I think you can even set it up so that if you get a new follower on a social media platform, I use it when I get a new customer. It automatically lets me know on my phone, I swipe to then go record a video really quick and it gets sent directly to them.
So imagine you are a social media manager and you represent a company that has a product, a person buys the product, and you get a notification that Jim from St. Louis bought such and such product. You swipe to record a video, “Hey, Jim, this is Carrie, I’m the social media manager at this company, I just want to say thank you so much. If you have any questions, let us know. Twitter’s actually a great way to get a hold of us. We just want to make your life better now that you have this product.”
Imagine receiving that a minute or two after you just spent money on something, how that would make you feel. Like it’s just going to be incredible, especially in industries where that’s very uncommon, which is most. So many opportunities to do that, and I think we just need to be conscious about those opportunities and do them, because yes, the hard thing especially for social media manager who has to report to a boss who’s like, “Okay, tell me the numbers.” There’s no direct ROI. This many super fans means this many dollars. But I think it’s general knowledge that we know that the more we have a person love us, the more money they will spend. It’s like common sense, right?
Yeah, it certainly should be, and there could be some ways to do some attribution modeling-
[crosstalk 00:30:42] customer profile tagging if you want to go down that road. A couple things you’ve talked about here in the last minute or two, Pat, have been about video, either YouTube or 101 video, using some of those tools, I use Vidyard’s GoVideo every day to do the kind of things that you’re talking about. Do you think that in this modern age that video is the best way to create super fans or could it be created via a podcast, as you have done historically, or Instagram? I guess the better way to frame this question is given the panoply of different social media and content creation options available to our listeners today, if you said, “Hey, here’s a channel you really ought to be thinking about to use to create super fans,” what would you tell them?
I would say go with the one where you know your community exists already, and just stick with that one. It could be very easy to go, “You need to be here and you need to be there, you need to do all these things.” I’ve found that when I’ve taught people just having them focus on that one channel and going all in on that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend any time on this other one, but for your super fan moments, for those experiences that you want to help people receive from you and your company, focus on one.
I would say, for example, just okay, let’s for a month experiment by creating personalized videos on Instagram every Friday for a half hour with our brand new customers, and that’s it. And it could be as simple as that as a strategy to help you cultivate that kind of community. But video, I definitely feel if it is easy for you and if you’re comfortable doing it, and I would recommend trying it, would be the one that would give you the best feeling of there’s a real person on the other end, you’re hearing their voice, and just as far as what people’s expectations are, people aren’t expecting super highly produced videos out of these things. They just want to know that somebody is paying a little bit of attention to them and that’s it. That’s it.
I mean, you think about comment cards, remember back in the day, and I think still some restaurants and places have these, where if you have a complaint or something to say, it’s like, okay, here’s this card, you’ve put it in the box and you never see or hear from that person again, it’s just basically a way to shut that person up and make them feel like they were heard, and that’s not what we’re about anymore. And we’re not even to the point where we should be there when a person needs us.
We need to be there just like a waiter is there when I’m drinking my water and it’s not even halfway full yet, they’re already refilling it for me, without me even asking. And using these opportunities and these tools for us to dig our well now before we’re thirsty is what this is about. Because if you’re digging your well and you’re thirsty already, meaning you have an agenda in your reach out to people other than to say thanks and make them feel special, well, it’s kind of too late.
Super fans, the easy way to stand out, grow your tribe and build a successful business, Pat, that was one piece of wisdom there, dig a well before you get thirsty. A couple others that I wrote down from the book, the idea of returning every handshake, the book is filled with these little pieces of wisdom that are I know going to really impact the social media professionals listening. I kind of want to ask you a question about kind of the other side of things, not to get negative here at all, but I think it’s important as you talk about super fans, this is so emotionally driven, and when you have emotions, we know things can sometimes go a little bit south.
And a couple things that you talk about I think very accurately in the book are kind of how to handle when your fans kind of get out of line. The other thing you talk about were six kind of traps that people who are trying to curate or cultivate super fans oftentimes fall into. I thought you might want to share a couple of those pieces of wisdom, too.
Yeah, I mean, I do end the book or close to the end of the book, I taught about the dark side of building fans, because there’s always a light and a dark side, right? Shout out to Star Wars and the new trailer that just came out. Anyway, there are some amazing things that can happen when you have fans, but there’s also some stuff that you just need to pay attention and worry about. Number one, your fans become very, very, very in love with what you do and your offerings. I mean, in some cases, for social media managers listening to this, a lot of this won’t be relevant, but if you are representing a personal brand, for example, well then a person may go a little bit beyond where they should go in order to get access to that person or what have you.
And I gave some classic examples, so some very big YouTubers who had people who are fans who love them, but found their house and were waiting outside to do selfies and autographs, and that’s just not cool, not safe, so I talk about some strategies just making sure hey, you know, if you shoot a video, don’t put your home address on there or license plates and things like that. You know, just being careful about when you say you’re going to be in certain places and that kind of thing. And then also, the other dark side of this, there’s a lot of people, they let fans get to their head. They go, “Oh, I got fans now. I’m legit. I’m the guy, look at me, all high and mighty.” And just not letting those things get to your head and remembering where you came from and remembering that the fans are the reason why you are becoming successful is really important. So a little bit of grounding is done at the end of the book as well.
It’s just, you know, I want to talk about all sides of things, because, and hopefully that doesn’t deter people from understanding the importance of building for super fans, but I think it’s important to discuss.
Pat, you’ve been remarkably successful at following your own advice. You have an incredibly loyal and large tribe that follows all the things that you do from the podcast to the blog to your new event, obviously to the book. Your new product, the SwitchPod, which is an incredibly handy tripod and handheld device for people who are shooting videos, if you haven’t seen the SwitchPod, go check it out. It is awesome.
It’s one of those things like, damn, why didn’t somebody else think of that?
Why didn’t I think of that?
[crosstalk 00:36:40] ladies and gentlemen. But you have a lot of super fans and you’ve done an amazing job doing it. But let me ask you a question that we’ve heard on this show in the past, and I think the last time we really threw this out there was when, last I think Gary Vaynerchuk was on the show, and when I hear it and I’m sure you’ve heard this too, is people will say, “Well, that’s great. Pat’s successful at this, he has super fans because he’s Pat Flynn. He has an innate talent. He’s a great communicator. He’s a smart guy. He has the time and the resources to do this.”
What is your response to that, when people say that you somehow bring special secret sauce to the table that they just can’t access?
I mean, I understand where they’re coming from, and it’s very easy to sort of default to that when you’re aren’t here, right? But number one, especially when it comes to well, I just don’t have time to do this, really what we’re talking about here is just caring, giving a crap about what we can do to help others, how we can make people feel like they’re a part of something. And I think we all have time for that. And it doesn’t matter what you do, and I think that if I were to tell a story that I talk about in the beginning of the book, I had my first fans before anybody even knew me. And that was through a website dedicated to help people pass an architectural exam.
My first fan, her name was Jackie, she even said at the end of her email because I helped her pass this exam, “Your biggest fan, Jackie,” and I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand until a couple months later, I saw the customer list and I saw that there were 25 other customers that came from the same email address, the same company as her, because she had apparently gone and was an evangelist for my study guide and got and convinced everybody else in the office, even though she could have shared the guide that she bought to everybody herself and copied it, she wanted to help me because I was able to help her. And we are all able to help others, too.
And I think when it comes to social media, I think yes, it’s important to get clicks and get traffic and get likes, and those kinds of things are important. They represent certain things. But I think the most important thing is to realize that the numbers on the other end, those are actual human beings, and the more that we can consider what they might need help with and how we can make them feel like they’re a part of something, how we can speak their language, the more in tune everybody will be with each other and the more wins everybody will have as well, and I think we all have the ability to do that.
I make mistakes, I am scared, I fear many things just like everybody else. I think what separates me is the fact that I let the fact that I need to help people more, that’s important to me more than the fear and what would happen if I mess up or you know, look bad or something like that. I mean, when you think about it, especially for certain kinds of businesses, it’s like the analogy I use is we’re on a boat, and there’s somebody who’s in the water drowning. And we just have to extend our hand out. Are we going to let the fear go, “Sorry, I’d love to help you, but you know, I’m scared of the water. It’s kind of cold.” No, you would absolutely go and lean over as much as you can to bring that person back in, and I think that because social media is all behind a keyboard, we’re forgetting that there’s actual human beings that need help on the other end.
Speaking of kind of being behind the keyboard, Pat, I think one of the things, at least I’m curious your thoughts on, is how important is multimedia/transmedia, the idea of using different platforms and different channels, to help create super fans? Can you do this all in social media or digital or do you need to find a way to send letters in the snail mail to your super fans, have an event, have a live video conference where it’s a little bit more [inaudible 00:40:17]? I’d love to hear your thoughts on how important that aspect is for cultivating super fans.
Yeah, I mean, multi-touch points are incredibly great at helping cultivate those fans and create those experiences from different dimensions to get a person to realize that you’re kind of everywhere at that point, right? And no matter where they look, they find you, and that’s great. However, if you’re just starting out or if you are all in on one channel right now, that’s going to everywhere all at once is going to disperse that energy to a point where it’s not going to help anybody. I think you need to show up in one or two places quite predominantly before sort of either automating some of that, optimizing it, or hiring help to manage those places, thus giving you more time to dedicate to something else to get it to a point where it can support you.
But really what it comes down to is just in your own way with what time you do have, how are you giving people on the other end attention, and how are you making them feel like they belong? And that’s really what this is about, and if your style is writing handwritten letters, then do that, but if you literally don’t have the time to do that, send a quick video. There are ways to make it work, you just need to find those ways, and this book gives you definitely sort of the list of ingredients to create your own recipes with, which is hopefully great, and some of those things take longer than others. At the end of each chapter, there’s some exercises to help you explore some of these things, but really, it’s just how are you going to show that you care?
And sometimes it’s done on a scalable way by you showing one person in front of everyone that you care because they represent somebody else. Sometimes you do have the time and can create the mechanisms to reach out to individuals. And sometimes it’s just in the care and attention that you put on learning the language of your audience and what they respond to and what really their problems are. It’s really going to be different for everybody, so I think you just kind of have to experiment and see what works for you.
Pat Flynn is the author of the new book Superfans, which Adam and I both love unconditionally, and we humbly request that you grab yourself a copy. You will be better at your job and be a better person if you get it, I can promise you that. Pat, we’re going to ask you the two questions we’ve asked everybody on this show, almost 400 episodes, and more on the way as I mentioned, send me a note, email@example.com, if you want to be on the show, you think somebody would be a good candidate to be here on Social Pros, send me an email and we’ll talk about that ASAP. Pat, first question, what one tip would you give somebody who’s looking to become a social pro?
So if somebody’s trying to become a social pro, what I would really get in tune with is exactly who your audience is more than anything. I think that the more you can understand your audience, the better everything is going to be, the better the language is going to be in your emails and your social, the easier it’ll be to connect with those people, and more than that, the easier it’s going to be for people to connect with you, because really there’s so many great people, there’s so much great content, there’s so much noise out there now, our job is to get a person to go, “That’s where I need to be, or that’s my guy. That’s my girl. That’s my company. That’s where I’m going to focus my time and energy.”
And that’s, again, making people feel like they belong and it starts with some of these activation triggers I talk about in the book, like speaking the right language, helping a person get a quick win, being personable, sharing parts about you and your company that would make the person feel like you’re a friend, and I think that again, we have the tools to do this, we were doing this, and we kind of maybe forgot about it for a while, but let’s get back to how it was back in old town days where my good friend Chris Ducker, who I know you know, Jay, he talks about Bob the Baker.
You go to Bob the Baker, you go to Bob’s shop and you walk in and he goes, “Hey, how’s it going, Jay? How are your kids doing? How was that soccer game last weekend?” And you go, “Oh, it was good, we won two to one. How’s your wife doing?” And it’s just like, we got to get back to that, and we have tools to make this even easier, but let’s actually take action and do it. That’s how you become a social media pro.
So true, we let the technology get in the way of the social side and turn it into media. We talk about that on the show a lot here. Pat, if you could do a video call with any living person, who would it be and why?
Oh, it would be Elon Musk, this one was an easy one, partly because I want him to create a DeLorean version of a Tesla, but more than that-
You are the Back to the Future fanboy, [crosstalk 00:44:40]
I am a huge Back to the Future fanboy, an electric DeLorean would be amazing from Tesla. But anyway, mostly because I just want to tap into how his brain works in terms of thinking huge. He comes up with these ideas, like let’s go to Mars, and he doesn’t initially go, “Oh, no, we can’t do that. Here are all the things stopping us.” He goes, “Oh, here’s how actually this is possible.” And then let’s create these iterations, these phases over the course of many, many years to actually get to that point. He just seems to have that sort of thinking brain worked out and I want to do some big things in life related to education, and there are a lot of blockers and stoppages both for me mentally but also in the world and how might he be able to add value to my goal to do that would be the thing that I would hopefully get in that conversation with him. But yeah, that’s Elon Musk for sure, and I know he’s a hard guy to get access to, but one day.
Pat, you’re a big deal. You could get Elon Musk on a video call, man, I know you can pull that off.
I hope so, I hope so.
I guarantee you’re going to make that happen, and I can’t wait to have you back on the show to hear all about that conversation at some point. Thanks so much for being here. Thanks for writing a terrific book. Congratulations on all the success, richly deserved, this book’s going to help a lot of people. It’s called Superfans, he’s Pat Flynn, host of the Smart Passive Income Podcast as well, also creator of the SwitchPod, for all of you out there who are creating videos either for yourself or for your brand, grab a SwitchPod, it is an unbelievable tripod that works for your camera and it also becomes a handheld [inaudible 00:46:14] device, it is awesome. Super, super useful. You’re going to love that as well.
Pat, thanks a lot, man.
Thank you both. Appreciate it. Thanks, everybody.