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How Super Fans Work

People love you for a simple reason: because you’re you.

You connect on a fundamental level that says “she’s one of us.” If anyone feels that way about you, they’re saying something much more powerful: “she thinks like us, and we believe in the same things. We see the world the same way.”

When chasing that elusive Internet Fame, you might be surprised to learn that 1) you don’t need much of it to make a huge impact on your business, and 2) becoming Internet Famous doesn’t require all that many people.

The thing about fame, or celebrity, or popularity, is that we think of it as if it’s something that just happens. But like any great mystery, we can know more about it by breaking it down into its component parts.

To be famous – yes, even Internet Famous – you need fans. And it turns out that not all fans are created equal. Back when I was in High School, NSYNC was insanely popular. I knew one particular fan who had posters, stickers, t-shirts, every album every produced, and waited on the phone for concert tickets. (NOTE: No, this wasn’t before the Internet, but tickets were still sold over the phone.) This particular fan told me and everyone else she knew about how amazing NSYNC was and, if I didn’t like them, I was wrong because JT is the best.

This is a Super Fan. Regular Fans aren’t built like this. Super Fans create the mania and atmosphere of popularity and that something is “larger than life.” They spread the word. They’re the epicenter of virality. And here’s a surprising fact: Super Fans typically comprise only 1% of any fan base. Instead of 20% doing 80% of the Super Fandom, it turns out that just 1% are responsible for the vast majority of engagement.

How this applies to you is that, as you endeavor to grow demand and raise your prices, building an audience can feel daunting. But remember that your goal is to become Internet Famous, not famous-famous. So if you need a small fanbase of 2,000 people, you only need 20 Super Fans to get there; 20 is the whole of your 1%. But instead of thinking about your first 20…

Start with 1. Who can you help so much that they might become your first Super Fan?

I’m currently reading Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers Into Fanatics. The 1% Super Fans comes from Chapter 1 of the book. If you’re interested in building your own following, you should check it out (file this one under “highly recommended”).