The Difference Between A Fan And A Follower
Publish Date2016-02-23


I separate an artist's supporters into two buckets: Followers and Fans. Followers form a relationship between themselves and the artist's material. They purchase, listen, like, read, attend shows etc., but do it silently. Fans are different, and more valuable because THEY SHARE.

Social Media Post
  follower: likes, listens, downloads, reads
  fan: shares

  follower: attends, buys merchandise
  fan: shares

A fan that shares your material extends its reach to more people. This makes fans many leagues more valuable to the artist. An act with a small fanbase can easily compete with the reach of a large followerbase. This is true both in live and online settings.

Fans Online

As a demonstration, consider the Facebook pages of both a solo artist, Alice, and a 4 piece band, The Bobs.

Act Member Friends Invited Page Likes
Alice 300 100
Total 300 100
The Bobs
Bob 1 300 100
Bob 2 300 100
Bob 3 300 100
Bob 4 300 100
Total 1200 400

Alice has 100 likes, and The Bobs have 400 likes. Yet, Alice and The Bobs both have 0 fans. This is a reasonable ratio because we can assume Alice and each Bob invited all 300 of their friends, and received 100 likes each.

Now suppose Alice acquires 1 single fan, Carlos, who shares all of Alice's content. This gives Alice the same reach as The Bobs on any given post. Alice obtains 1 fan, Carlos, and obtains the same reach as The Bobs.

Act Share Viewers Reached
Alice's Page 100 Followers
Carlos 300 Friends
Total 400
The Bobs
The Bobs' Page 300 Followers
Total 300 Followers

The Bobs posts potentially reach their 400 followers. Alice's posts potentially reach her 100 followers, and Carlos' share potentially reaches his 300 friends.

This is why it is so important for artists to pay attention to their view/like/share ratio for each post. Obtaining more shares will have a positive impact on views/likes.

Fans At Shows

This idea can also be applied to live shows. Suppose Alice has a show, and she invites her 100 followers. If 20% decide to come, that means she has 20 guests attending. If her fan, Carlos, bring 4 friends that is a 20% increase in attendance.

The Takeaway

There is a difference between a fan and a mere follower. Follower enjoy and support your work. Fans share and champion the work within their own network.

A fan share taps into potential fans that are outside of the reach of the artist. Fans are the key to growth. Growth is the key to success. The key to success is cultivating fans.