Fans vs. Followers

by KJ McNamara

lady-gaga-and-keshaThere is a distinct difference between Ke$ha and Lady Gaga, (Minus the fact that one loves glitter and the other loves creating her own outfits).  They both create fun tunes to bounce along to, sometimes they have meaning and sometimes they don’t.  But for some reason Lady Gaga, despite being discovered at the same time as Ke$ha, has risen to an unfathomable level of stardom.   People have even gone on to call Ke$ha “baby Gaga,” aka the JV version of the true Gaga.  What is the difference?  Only one answer:  Little Monsters (her passionate followers).

Ke$ha and the Gaga have fans no doubt.  Fans are the people who will buy the collector’s edition of your album before they hear one track off of it.  But only the Gaga has followers.  People who will drive thousands of miles just to see her live from the nose bleed section of a stadium — dressed like her, crying when they see here, admiring everything she’s about not just her fun songs.  This is the difference between fans and followers.  Fans will support you when things are going well but followers will define their lives around your ideas, way of life, and existence.

So how did Gaga pull ahead in the fans vs. followers race?  They are both blonde and funky artists who create fun music.  Well it is simple really, and it actually has a lot to do with Social Excellence, specifically The 4 Pillars of Social Excellence: curiosity, generosity, authenticity, and vulnerability.  Both Ke$ha and Lady Gaga have won people over with their curiosity and generosity by getting to know their fans, making their music about their fans and connecting with people.  But only the Gaga has mastered the other two pillars.

Gaga has let her wall down and has been vulnerable showing her fans her authentic self.  Her being her authentic self and being vulnerable has given her fans permission to do the same and therefore transformed the relationship between herself and her fans into a dedicated group of people who will follow her.  It is no longer a relationship, but rather a meaningful connection between the Gaga and her little monsters.

So how does this apply to organizational growth?  Well, we need to master the art of Social Excellence in its entirety, by being vulnerable and authentic, not only curious and generous if we want to create meaningful and life changing conversations.  This is a progression… now we are not asking you to pour it all out there upon meeting someone who could eventually join your group (or travel around in an egg-shaped pod).  But when you meet someone, be curious and generous.  Then as your relationship progresses… be the first one to be vulnerable and show your authentic self.  We have to be our authentic, vulnerable selves in order to give others permission to let their own guard down.  It is the difference between record breaking and Grammy winning.

The truth is that fans will love you and may pick you first in a recruitment competition, but only followers will stick it through when the going gets tough.

A fan will stick to you when your song is hot, but only followers make you a classic!