Thought Leadership
  • Content marketing

Herding cats - you can't control what your fans want to read or watch

Alan Martin
14th January 2015

Have you ever worked for a company insistent on pushing something that really isn’t resonating? I have. Not this one, I hasten to add – I doubt I’d be allowed to be as frank as I’m about to be here if that were the case – but I have in the past.

Bang the drum

  • “We need all of our subscribers to all read this.”

  • “We need all of our players to register for this.”

  • “We need all of our fans to buy this.”

So you have to tell your fans. Over and over again until they resent you with every fibre of their being…

No amount of gentle reasoning can work at this point: the stakeholder has demanded this must happen, and usually yesterday, so you get to work ramming whatever it is down the readers/players/consumers’ throats. Not only does it not work, but on social media it often doesn’t work in spectacularly obvious fashion: best case scenario, it’s a deathly silence, worst case scenario, you’ve got fans being openly hostile.

What I’m trying to say is that unless you’re one of a tiny number of companies that can objectively be described as “beloved” (Hello Tim Cook, nice of you to drop by), the chances are that your fans – fond of you as they are – aren’t going to read your press releases over and over again.

The crux of the matter

Your fans aren’t numbers and metrics that live to consume every bit of company news, they’re real people with normal people motivations, and life’s too short to read thinly veiled brand messages, don’t you think? That’s absolutely not to say you have to give up on the brand messages, you just have to box a little clever with it, and position them in such a way that you’re making their time on the internet worthwhile. After all, there are 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, so you’re stopping your fans from playing a game of perpetual, impossible catch-up with literally millions of funny cat videos.

In short: you can’t expect your fans to change. Or be interested in everything you want them to be. The onus is on you to provide the content they want to see, not the other way round.

It’s only by paying attention to what your fans want that you’ll grow into a truly beloved company with an engaged and growing fan base. Then maybe they’ll read that press release you keep banging on about.

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