Fans and Followers: How They Differ and What it Means for Content Creators



The terms “fans” and “followers” are often used interchangeably these days, but they have stark contrasts when it comes to what they are and how they interact with content. While creators are certainly looking for monetization through posting content on various platforms (as they should), what is just as important is building deeper engagement with audiences to create a powerful fan base rather than followers.


Fans versus followers: What’s the difference?

According to Miriam-Webster, a fan is defined as “an enthusiastic devotee” and a follower is defined as “one that follows the opinions or teachings of another.” But what about when it comes to content, since everyone is qualified as a follower? To me, followers can come and go, but fans are long-lasting. Some people follow thousands of content creators on social platforms, but that does not qualify them as fans. A follower can be fair weather while a fan incites passion into who or what they follow. Fans follow with purpose, with drive, and with the goal of wanting to show support to those they admire. They could have followed someone they admire for years, maybe decades, supporting their every initiative, movie, or song. Followers come and go, but fans are forever.


How Can Content Creators Turn Followers Into Fans?

Now that the difference between fans and followers is defined, how can content creators turn followers into fans? While many platforms are offering increased monetization solutions, they are not providing engagement tools that can truly make an impact in creating diehard fans. For example, fans can express their feelings on content through comments, likes, shares and bookmarking videos or pictures. Often there is no way for creators to talk back to their audiences where the engagement starts.


Platforms get the benefit of controlling their algorithms to push certain content. Sometimes platforms will push out content that does not feel relevant or on brand for the audience, but that’s not something creators or followers can control. These ever changing algorithms make it even more difficult for creators to master how to reach followers to then turn them into fans. Fans, on the other hand, will seek out content from those they admire whether searching for them or flagging alerts for when they post content so the algorithm has less of an effect on their success. Content creators with fans are more in control.


How to Gain Control

Content creators should not feel at a loss when striving to turn followers into fans. There are tactical things they can do to take control back from platforms. For starters, creating their very own platform allows creators to choose their algorithm, methods of communications with fans, and opportunities for monetization without having to adhere to the guidelines of existing platforms which are changing, sometimes daily. When it comes to monetization, fans, over followers, are more likely to purchase subscriptions, buy merchandise or be open to opportunities to pay for exclusive content.

Creators can control the design and functionality of their own platform to ensure it is not only engaging but also valuable for their audience. When creators can offer an elite content experience catered to visitors, loyalty of existing fans will increase while building a relationship with new fans. Choosing monetization strategies that align with the target audience is a great way to turn followers into fans. For example, if having exclusive content is important to those interested in their content, the creator can focus on a subscription model where fans can have access to this type of content on a monthly, weekly, or even daily cadence. The control lies in the hands of the creator.


Own Your Data

Ownership of data is another way creators can get more fans. When a creator understands their followers' journey and interests through analyzing backend data, it helps create a more tailored experience for followers that is truly catering to their wants and needs. Making the follower feel more seen and heard is a great way to yield more loyalty, and turn them into a forever fan.


Creators can analyze so many different types of data including how far their reach goes with global fans, genders, responses to each piece of content, purchasing behaviors and beyond. Collecting and understanding this type of data allows creators to create a custom experience catering to each and every fan. For example, they can see when they have fans in certain countries around the world. Creators can then take that information to make sure their platform has a language translator specific to that country yielding a more seamless experience for fans to navigate the platform. Now that the platform is owned by the creators, they can monitor fan behaviors and click through journeys, creating a more effective and powerful platform.


Owning a space where creators can just be themselves will yield more authentic fans. Rather than adhering to existing social media platforms vibes, owning your own platform means you can just be you! Creators are in dire need of a safe zone where they can comfortably talk about their creations, increase engagement levels with audiences, and try new and different monetization tools in one place so they can do what they love to do. This will increase connections with fans fostering powerful relationships that will stand the test of time.


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