Book Review: Fans, Friends and Followers

Fans, Friends and Followers by Scott Kirsner is a three part book about building and monetizing an online fan base.

fansIn the first part, Scott lays out the “new rules” of building an audience such as “Be remarkable and make remarkable stuff”, “Understand the power of the link” and “Help people learn to do what you do”. While artists new to social media may find this section insightful, this section is just a reminder of what the rest of us should already know. After reading Seth Godin and other online thought leaders for the past few years I found myself alternating between a state of “oh yeah, I forgot about that” and nodding along impatiently waiting to get to some new secret formula. 

But a secret formula to get a large following quickly isn’t the point of the book, and thankfully so. The real value of this book is in part two, where Scott interviews 30 creators from diverse fields such as singing, film production and comedy who have succeeded in building an online following (and in most cases, a monetary living) for their work. I found myself getting more ideas from creators that had nothing to do with comedy than I did from the comedians, and I feel this sort of “cross-pollination of ideas” will hold true no matter your medium. 

While the interviews were very insightful, I would have liked to read interviews from the following creators who have built a huge online following: Tucker Max, Hugh McLeod, Aaron Karo and Dane Cook. (Whether you love or hate Dane, he has always been way ahead of every other comic on technology and interacting with his fans.) 

In the third and final part, Scott provides a quick reference guide for getting started on using social media and the internet to one’s advantage. While you won’t really read this section, it will be a handy reference five months down the line when you decide you’re not going to post your new joke until you raise $50 and you want to find out which site can help you implement that technology. 

Overall, I highly recommend this book to any creator or blogger who is looking to establish or increase their online presence. Whether new to the internet or an experienced veteran, the people and ideas in this book will get you thinking about your audience from a new perspective. Be warned, there is no trick or quick way to build a following, it takes time, but Scott’s book will help you develop a more coherent strategy for the road ahead.

(Full Disclosure: As a comedy blogger, I was received a free preview copy of this book. I don’t think that influenced my opinion as it’s always easier to write a negative review than a positive review, but I thought you should know.)

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