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Rabid Fans: The Secret Behind a Great Cult Following
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Rabid Fans: The Secret Behind a Great Cult Following


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  • Yes, for the record, this _is_ a picture of the crowd at a Justin Beiber concert
  • Clumsy as a kid but fashionable, rockin the houndstoothJust remove the underscore for my LinkedIn profile
  • You know how companies always show you those boring logo slides in a sad attempt to demonstrate how popular they are?Well here’s my versionCan you name them all?
  • They call it a cult _following_ for a reason… fans want to follow your lead
  • Artist used Superman as the template. Anyonecan be Superman, the trick is to be you.Are you Sponge Bob or Link?Maybe you’re Wonder Woman? Or perhaps Spock?Image source:
  • Richard Branson wants to go to outer space… you can’t help but get inspired by thatJeff Bezos, while maybe not the most inspiring to average consumers, holds enormous sway over his employees… because he inspires them with visionAnd maybe even this guy… with all of his passion for content, that’s inspiring right?
  • Apple cares about design because Steve Jobs cared about designHe was obsessed with typographyHeavily influenced by different designers over the yearsHe brought that back to Apple and drove product direction But he also taught all of us – show don’t tell
  • So you know how to inspire and educate, just by being yourself, how do you go about engaging an audience to build a following?
  • If you’re memorable, people will share what you have to sayThis is not easy, it takes thought and preparationCreating good content is hard. Very hard.Why do you think I’m using everyone else’s?
  • NeilGaimen and Amanda PalmerBoth heavy Twitter and Tumblr usersRegularly retweet and repost fan contentWill start ongoing conversationsBoth leverage their online fan network when traveling the worldPhoto by Kyle Cassidy:
  • My first experience of RHP crowd costumes, props people yelling at the screen people acting it out down frontI was pulled into the fray immediately because I was a “virgin”The culture actually built in an initiation process, what better way to invite participation?
  • Everyone wants to belong, we all crave that sense of belongingMany of us struggle with it, feeling like outcastsWe just want to be accepted as who we are while still feeling special
  • One of the best ways you can spark fandom is by creating a club, for members onlyIt makes people want in, even if they weren’t interested beforeAt the same time, it’s important that anyone can be a member… assuming you want the largest fanbase possibleNo one wants to feel rejectedWant this movie poster for yourself? Sure you do! Go here:
  • If you were alive and into rock and roll in the 70s, this should be immediately recognizableThis is why consistent branding is so importantBut branding doesn’t get you anything without the followingOnce you have the following though, branding becomes a secret handshake that lets fans identify each otherIcons:
  • This goes back to being quotable, but it’s also using language for the same secret handshake that imagery provides
  • So you’ve engaged your audience, you’vegot a unique brand identity, now what?Stretch beyond your comfort zone and embrace the memes
  • First, you have to really know your fansYou can use social listening, social intelligence, content analytics, anything that provides a view into the hearts and minds of your followersYou will discover that your fans are also fans of other things, and while not all of those things will be useful to you, many will
  • Deadheads: One of the most faithful fandoms everGrateful Dead sold out nearly every concert for _decades_ while constantly touring around the country1998 Guinness World Record for most rock concerts performedFind the other fandoms that overlap with yours and engage those products and brands to delight your followersBe a good partner, blend offerings together
  • Keep it fun and interactive! Entertain your fans
  • Bring it all together with contentContent you create by really engaging and knowing your fansContent your fans create and share with each otherContent created spontaneously with other fandoms/brands
  • These are the options you get when posting to TumblrThe options are diverse but constrained, forces users to be modular in thinkingLike the deck of cards you got for this conference
  • All social networks enable easy sharing because they know that’s how the best content rises to the topIt enables conversation and feeds your cult following
  • Metadata matters, it’s the best way to add value without dramatically altering contentTumblr tags often indicate the author’s point of viewGoogle Jimmy Fallon “hashtag” video for funIf you like this presentation, you can find our card in your deck (take this card to the XML press table to get one) with the URL or just go to
  • This is the part where I specify that none of the images used except for the company logo and a pic of me as a baby on slide 2 are mine or SDL’s. I’ve tried to include links/citations where possible. Thanks!
  • Transcript

    • 1. SDL Proprietary and Confidential Rabid Fans The Secret Behind a Great Cult Following Andrew Thomas, Director of Product Marketing for SDL Documentation 2/27/2014
    • 2. 2 Image placeholder Click on image icon Browse to image you want to add to slide Allow me to introduce myself ○ Born and raised in Alabama ○ Love poetry, politics, and parenting ○ Spend way too much time consuming media ○ Product Marketing Director for SDL LiveContent ○ HUGE NERD ○ Let’s connect: @work_ajt
    • 3. 3 Here are some of my fandoms
    • 4. Dynamic Leaders
    • 5. 5 Highlight your personality
    • 6. 6 Inspire with vision
    • 7. 7 Educate your base
    • 8. Engaged Audience
    • 9. 9 Be quotable
    • 10. 10 Talk directly to your fans
    • 11. 11 Invite participation
    • 12. Inclusive Exclusivity
    • 13. 13 Start a club
    • 14. 14 Develop unique visuals
    • 15. 15 Develop unique language
    • 16. Meme Mashups
    • 17. 17 Know your FanVenn™
    • 18. 18 Leverage compatible fandoms
    • 19. 19 Engage other fandoms
    • 20. Intelligent Content
    • 21. 21 Modular
    • 22. 22 Sharable
    • 23. 23 Tagged
    • 24. Copyright © 2008-2014 SDL plc. All rights reserved. All company names, brand names, trademarks, service marks, images and logos are the property of their respective owners. This presentation and its content are SDL confidential unless otherwise specified, and may not be copied, used or distributed except as authorised by SDL. Global Customer Experience Management