Fanocracy and building a true human connection – Interview with David Meerman Scott


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Today’s interview is with David Meerman Scott, an internationally acclaimed business strategist, author, entrepreneur, advisor to emerging companies, and public speaker. David joins me today to talk about his new book that he co-authored with his daughter Reiko: Fanocracy: Turning Fans into Customers and Customers into Fans, how it came about and what we can learn from it.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – The winner of the 2019 CX Leader of the Year – Interview with Sandra De Zoysa, Chief Customer Officer of Dialog Axiata – and is number 327 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Here’s the highlights of my chat with David:

  • David and I spoke on the podcast previously way back in Nov 2012. Tat time we talked about Newsjacking and Inbound Marketing.
  • Newsjacking is now referenced in the Oxford English Dictionary.
  • It’s harder and harder to break through as a marketer or business owner or someone who wants to grow their business but, all of us, every single one of us have things we are passionate about.
  • The book is about exactly that: how and why people become fans of something and how a company can tap into that kind of fandom to grow their business.
  • Boiling it down to a sentence…. it’s really about creating a true human connection and there’s lots and lots and lots of different manifestations of that.
  • Nine Steps To Building Your Fanocracy
    • 1. GET CLOSER THAN USUAL Personal interactions are what makes us human. And humanity is what builds a loyal following.The idea of proximity to customers is something that any organization can implement in order to build the kind of fandom that creates a true Fanocracy. The Closer You Get To Other People, The More Powerful The Shared Emotions Are.
    • 2. LET GO OF YOUR CREATIONS Once you put your art, product or service out into the world, it’s not fully yours. It takes time to find that place where you can let go of your creations, yet still understand the heart of your fans. Fanocracy Is Built On The Experiences Of All Its Members, Rather Than Limited To The Imagination Of One Creator.
    • 3. GIVE MORE THAN YOU HAVE TO When we give to others rather than take, we develop fans. However, the idea of “completely free” is particularly tough for marketers, because many have been taught to require email registration when they offer content. Free Content With Strings Attached Feels Like Coercion—Great Content Given Freely, Attracts Loyal Fans.
    • 4. BUILD IDENTITY TO BECOME MORE THAN A PRODUCT People become fans because—even though a product might be mass-produced—they are able to assign emotional weight to decisions around how they use the product. Providing room for each individual to incorporate a product into their lives is a quality that will make it successful. Brands Are Powerful Ways Of Identifying Ourselves To Others And Are How We Explore Who We Are.
    • 5. BE SMART ABOUT YOUR INFLUENCERS Cultivating advocates who truly want to support a brand because they like the company as well as its products and services is much more likely to build a Fanocracy than merely paying for a celebrity Endorsement.The Best People To Champion Your Ideas Or Products Are Those Who Are The Most Believable.
    • 6. BREAK DOWN BARRIERS A great way to create love for what you do is figure out ways to let people into your world by allowing them to create their own experience or be an important part of what you do. While everyone else is making products and services sold via transactions, you create fans!Welcoming Fans Into Our Inner Worlds Melts Barriers Between Seller And Buyer.
    • 7. LISTEN TO RE-HUMANIZE Executives today recognize how the automation of our world holds tremendous opportunities for their business. To build a Fanocracy, you must recognize that your customers have lives beyond their digital footprint and once you learn more about them, you inspire Loyalty. Your Relationship With Your Customer Starts With Your Curiosity About Them.
    • 8. TELL THE TRUTH, EVEN WHEN IT HURTS Over the course of many interactions taking months or years, a customer learns what a brand stands for.When your fans know they can always rely on you to be open and honest, even when you make a mistake(especially when you make a mistake) they will honor and respect you and be eager to do business with you. Building Trust And Telling The Truth Are Essential Ingredients In Creating A Fanocracy.
    • 9. DEVELOP EMPLOYEES WHO ARE FANS Customers expect to find employees who are “just doing their job.” Yet, when an employee shows strong passion about what they are doing, it’s infectious. And this is essential in building your Fanocracy. Authentic Advocacy From Inside Your Organization Will Inspire The Enthusiasm, Enjoyment And Passion That Creates A Fanocracy
  • David cites a great example of Haggerty Insurance, a provider of classic car insurance, who have developed their own fanbase by providing with education and valuable information. They have an enormous database bigger than any other database on the planet for what classic cars are worth. They have a magazine that goes out six times a year. They have a really great YouTube channel that has something like a 1,000,000 subscribers. They have the Haggerty Drivers Club that has 650,000 members. And all of this drives fans of Haggerty Insurance.
  • He tells other stories involving The Grateful Dead, a restaurant in Boston where you go and sit at tables in the kitchen, Boston University and narrative medicine, KFC, Adobe, Roomba, Grain surfboards etc.
  • David’s best advice to start building more human connection in their business:
    • Take a look at your website and look at the words and look at the images.
      • When you look at the words, you need to figure out how you can eliminate what could be called gobbledygook language.
      • Use real photographs of real people …..your customers, your partners and others on your website.
    • Those two things will go a long way to helping build the human connections that will be incredibly powerful for you in the future.
  • David’s Punk CX word: Passion.
  • David’s Punk CX brand: Me Undies.

About David

David Meerman Scott is an internationally acclaimed business strategist, entrepreneur, advisor to emerging companies, and public speaker.

He is the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of ten previous books, including The New Rules of Marketing & PR (now in a 6th edition and available in 29 languages), Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead, and The New Rules of Sales & Service. In his spare time he surfs and travels around the world for great live music.

You should check out David’s website here, his books on Amazon, and connect with him on Twitter @dmscott and LinkedIn.

Grab a copy of Fanocracy: Turning Fans into Customers and Customers into Fans, and check out the Fanocracy website.



Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


  1. Thanks so much Adrian! The pendulum has swung too far in the direction of superficial online communications at a time when people are hungry for true human connection.


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