1,000 True Fans

    Or: why I'm ignoring the algorithm

    My friend and coworker Nancy came in to the studio last week brimming with knowledge after a networking event/ social media talk she had attended the night before. Alyson and I sat asking questions as she talked about all of the great ideas the panelists had discussed- mostly tackling Instagram, Instagram stories, the algorithm and how to boost engagement. Here are some of the (great!) ideas the panelists had:

    • If you're going to boost a post, be sure to spend at least $250, less than that doesn't really move the meter
    • Try to add video to your main feed at least once every 9 images
    • Try to post on your ig feed, and then follow it up right away with an ig story, so that engagement from both gets boosted
    • Be sure to encourage conversation in your posts when you can, and reply to every comment with a full sentence
    • Do an ig live once a week, and promote it in your feed and stories
    • Use hashtags, but not in a separate comment- put them in the initial description, or not at all

    Ok, this is all great advice, but soon my head was spinning and I couldn't help but think- I could easily spend two hours per day implementing all of these strategies- and we haven't even TALKED about Pinterest (where most of our traffic comes from!) or growing our email list!

    On top of that, I've been doing some thinking about our email list, supposedly the one thing in our business that "we own." But do we?? I don't think we really own our email list, Google does, and over the past few years, they have been leveraging their power so that you are seeing what they want you to see. Just check out your Spam folder: mine is full of emails from companies whose emails lists I have 100% signed up for, and what about that Promotions tab? Mine has literally hundreds of emails in it, all from companies whose lists I've joined, but I'll never see their emails because... I mean, who looks in their Promotions tab regularly??

    Don't get me wrong:

    • Instagram has given us an awesome platform, great friends, and is responsible for thousands of leads. I give it a ton of attention, and will continue to do so.
    • Pinterest is an incredible lead generating machine (and in my opinion, we'll soon talk wistfully of the pre-algorithm Pinterest days, so jump on it NOW!)
    • Email marketing is incredible, more personal, and most of all, it works


    As I thought about the next few months, and where I want to devote more hours and more dollars, giving a lot more attention than I already do to the above items just didn't sound that fun to me. So I had a mini epiphany. I'm getting in my time machine, and going back in time, and focusing on real humans, and real relationships. Cliche, I know!

    As a brand, we don't own anything except for the real relationships we form with real people.

    Let me be honest, I'm not building the next Google over here! Teak & Twine is not a unicorn, headed toward a 9 figure exit. I make beautiful gift boxes with my friends, and it's a great living, AND a great life. I'm glad I can support my family AND I'm glad I play with my boys every morning. So this advice is not for the person starting the next Google (though, I'd imagine there are elements that every company could take away, now that customer experience is everything). My north star with Teak & Twine has been guided by an article called 1,000 true fans written by Kevin Kelly a few years ago but popularized on Tim Ferriss' podcast more recently. Here's the bottom line:

    "To be a successful creator you don’t need millions. You don’t need millions of dollars or millions of customers, millions of clients or millions of fans. To make a living as a craftsperson, photographer, musician, designer, author, animator, app maker, entrepreneur, or inventor you need only one thousand true fans.

    A true fan is defined as a fan that will buy anything you produce. These diehard fans will drive 200 miles to see you sing; they will buy the hardback and paperback and audible versions of your book; they will purchase your next figurine sight unseen; they will pay for the “best-of” DVD version of your free youtube channel; they will come to your chef’s table once a month. If you have roughly a thousand of true fans like this (also known as super fans), you can make a living — if you are content to make a living but not a fortune."

    Sitting there listening to Nancy talk about boosting engagement by 1% by spending even more time on Instagram, is when it hit me!!! That might be how you build a brand with millions of customers, but I don't think it's how to I want to get to 1,000 true fans.

    • What if I spent $250 hosting a spontaneous giveaway on Instagram for my most loyal IG story followers, instead of boosting a post?
    • What if instead of doing an IG live to try to beat the algorithm, I wrote thank you cards (real ones, with my freaking hand), to the customers who bought from us last week?
    • What if instead of spending money on PR, I spent money sending thank you gifts to the corporate clients who made 2018 amazing?

    As I sat and thought about these ideas, I was getting excited. THIS sounded like FUN! I LOVE thinking about how I can enchant our customers, and blow them away! We started brainstorming as a team: let's send thank you cards! Let's surprise followers with free gifts! Let's surprise repeat customers with chocolate bars! Let's open the doors of our studio to our DC-based clients + friends and throw a party for Mother's Day! Ok, now THIS was getting us excited!!

    So, that's what we've done! I still post on ig every day, do stories (which I love doing!), set up our Tailwind cue on Pinterest and send out our weekly email. BUT, I'm taking extra time and resources and throwing them BACK at the clients who are ALREADY here, already supporting us, buying from us, following us... and thanking them for making our business dreams come true. It's been so. freaking. fun.

    Oh, and just so you know, it's not all about feelings and rainbows. It makes financial sense too. The store has seen one of it's best March weeks ever. One of the corporate clients we reached out to thank fought hard to pitch us for a client gift idea that was already 80% heading another direction, and we got the job- one of our biggest ever.

    Just 999 true fans to go!



    P.S. Tell me what you think! I love hearing from you! :)