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Why 100 True Fans Are Worth More Than a Million "Likes"

Weekly #091 | And what micropreneurs can do about it

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This week, we're taking inspiration from Brian Chesky, co-founder of Airbnb. He dropped some serious wisdom on Twitter recently, and it's something us micropreneurs need to hear loud and clear:

Here's the deal: when starting your own digital empire, especially today, it's easy to get caught up in the "go big or go home" mentality. We focus on hitting million-user milestones — because that’s what we hear about in the news — but forget the most important thing: building something people truly love.

Why 100 "super fans" are better than 1,000 "just okay" fans

Imagine having 100 customers who rave about your product to everyone they know. Now imagine those same 100 people in a room with you. These people can become your walking, talking advertisements. Now compare that to having 1,000 customers who are kind of "meh" about it. Or even customers who give you a million impressions or “likes,” but never pay for anything you offer.

Who do you think will bring you more success in the long run?

This is actually part of the reason why we (at Micro Empires) automatically unsubscribe readers after 3 months of no engagement (if you didn’t know that, now you do).

We’re not worried about how large our subscriber base is, we’re more concerned with how engaged our people are, and how many join our premium membership. As of right now, we sit at a 61% open rate, but aim to make that higher.

Because who wants to serve a group of people that don’t really care about what you have to say? We certainly don’t. And the same should be true about your own audiences.

Scaling with a small team

Brian's advice hits close to home for micropreneurs who don't have the resources to hire a massive team. And in the digital age, there are so many tools available to automate a lot of what previously required human involvement. That’s not to say humans aren’t needed, but you can automate the more menial tasks, so that the team you do keep is focused on more creative, productive, or innovative pursuits.

By focusing on creating an amazing experience for a small group of dedicated users, you can learn, refine, and grow organically.

This way, you don't need a huge team, just a passionate focus on your core customers.

Ditch the vanity metrics

Forget about chasing "likes" and follower counts on social media. Those numbers are meaningless if they don't translate into real customers who pay for your product or service.

We cover this in the upcoming book Micro Empires Unleashed, but vanity metrics are not a good way for micro-empire builders to measure their success. It may work for other businesses that need to satisfy large shareholders or VCs, where it’s a “winner takes all” game, but for most micropreneurs, this is simply unnecessary.

For micro-empire builders, you really need to focus on the strength of relationships between your initial or core users. Why? Because they will become your marketing team in lieu of a formal (or traditional) one.

There’s a reason why “word of mouth” is still considered the best form of marketing. Because focusing on strong relationships with your dedicated users/fans/members is the most sustainable way to scale a micro-empire.

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Validation over vanity

Remember, paying customers are your true validation. They're the ones who are telling you that what you're building has real value, because they’re willing to put their money where their mouth is.

This is way more important than attracting a bunch of free users who might not stick around in the long run. That sort of strategy may work for larger empires, but your micro-empire is all about growing revenue while keeping operations as lean as possible.

According to marketing gurus like Gary Vaynerchuk, today’s online economy is an attention economy. We agree for the most part, if external validation or vanity is your underlying focus.

However, if you’re the type of micropreneur that wants to make it big, without peacocking, you can make your money without needing to appeal to the lowest base desires online. More and more business owners are figuring this out.

Attention vs. value economy

From what we’ve observed in the market, some of the most popular social media personalities have deep insecurities. And this is exactly why they thrive in an attention economy.

However, micro-empire builders work in an almost opposite market: the value economy. It may sound painstakingly simple, but you can still build a thriving micro-empire by focusing more on giving value to people instead of focusing on attention. The latter results in extreme behaviors, such as doing absurd stunts just to garner attention (see below):

If you are reading this newsletter, you are here to build value, not just attention. The attention will come naturally by doing the former, but it will come from the right places.

The rise of micro-communities

Today, the trend of micro-communities is booming. This means that in certain niches, you can build a smaller, but highly engaged group of "true fans" (even fewer than Kevin Kelly's "1,000 true fans") who are willing to pay a sustainable price for your product or service. With 100 of these dedicated fans, you can replace your day job income and finally achieve the freedom you've been working towards.

So, fellow Micro Empire builders, let's shift our focus. Don't get lost in the numbers game. Focus on creating an amazing experience for your core customers, one by one. Build those deep relationships, and watch your Micro Empire flourish.

Remember, when it comes to building your micro-empire, less is more.

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