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Is Being Polite, Awesome And Human the Secret?

7 like 0 dislike

Over on Techdirt this week, I wrote about Louis CK's experiment with direct to fan offerings and the quick success it had, by noting that it seemed that Louis hit on three key things that made this work:

He was polite, awesome and human.

This has me wondering if those three attributes apply on a broader scale as a way to connect with fans and give them a reason to buy.

  1. Being polite seems, to me, to be important.  Throughout the whole process, Louis just asked politely that people pay for his work, rather than file sharing it.  And it seemed that people really responded to the simple polite ask.  I've seen this before.  It doesn't stop people from infringing, but it really does seem to limit it quite a lot, and make people actually want to support the artist more.  In some ways it's just about respecting fans.  If you respect them, they respect you back.
  2. Being awesome.  This one is actually partially a response to some criticism of my whole CwF+RtB thing.  Some people cmplained that my formula made no mention of quality.  Of course, I thought quality was actually baked directly into both parts of the equation.  It's much tougher to connect or give a reason to buy if what you're creating sucks.  But, there really is something about being totally awesome that helps make the rest of the process much easier.
  3. Finally, the human part.  I think this is different than the polite part.  Louis really displayed that he was a regular guy in how he presented this, wrote about it and discussed it.  He did a very cool Reddit AMA (ask me anything) that was involved and detailed.  Again, I think some of the issue here is how rare it is that some content creators really appear to be human to their fans.  They're held on such a pedestal.  But we've seen artists who use their Twitter feeds to be really really human, are able to build up huge fan bases, so it seemed important to point this out as well.

So what do people think?  Are these three characteristics universal?  Near universal?  Are there different or better characteristics?  Would love to hear your thoughts.


initiated Dec 17, 2011 in Connecting with Fans by Mike Masnick (22,930 points)   59 99 160

4 Responses

3 like 0 dislike
Although these three practices are important, they're not the key element. Fans want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to share the experience. Prime example: Woodstock. It was the defining experience for a generation. It was an event for those that missed it wishing they were there. It is only by acknowledging the fans' desire to be part of sonmething special can you create an event that is something special. And, of course, you should be polite, awesomw, and human while doing it.
response added Dec 17, 2011 by shawnhcorey (620 points)   1 3 8
@shawnhcorey Good point, though, I guess I think of that "experience" as being part of the "awesome" part...
3 like 0 dislike

I think a big element in Louis C.K.'s success is the comprehensibility of what was presented to us.

He somehow made it very easy to figure out who he was, what his background was, what he was offering, what he thought was important, why he was doing this the way he was.

That made the personal "Am I $5 interested in this?" assessment an awful lot easier. In game-theory-ish terms, "What will I get out of this?" and "What''s he looking to get out of it?" were immediately answerable.

That's the first part: the scenario presented was readily comprehensible. This made him stand out from more typical offerings, which have obscure or uncertain motivations/personalities behind them.

The second important part of his success is that the answers to those questions were so positive - "He's a talented comedian who's selling his new show for $5", "He's an independent producer who's trying to be fair with his audience" "He's an ordinary person who trusts us to do right by him" - you couldn't help but become invested in his 'story' and want him to succeed in it.


And I think you can flip Louis' case and use it to show why Hollywood and the record labels are not doing so well in this post-scarcity market: Because it's not really clear what's the reasoning behind this piece of DRM, or the cost of this boxset, or any such moves. It's hard to know whether you're entering a fair transaction, what the person behind it wants for themselves.

And not only that, but to the extent that the motivations/personalities behind those offerings are comprehensible, it becomes clear that they're characters you'd rather deny than support.

response added Dec 23, 2011 by (280 points)   1 3
I agree with your opinion on why the record labels are not doing well.  There is a huge disconnection between the industry and the artists, especially when it comes to royalties paid out.  As for DRM, that is the worst customer service move ever.  If I buy something, I want to enjoy the content, no matter where it is.  It just adds to my frustation to not support the label, therefor not supporting the artists.  Seems they get the bad end of the stick no matter what.
@donnyidk Really good point there, any time you can't see the whole deal you always wonder if you're being screwed over somehow. This also ties back into the Uniform Motion stuff where it appears that being transparent is, in itself, a reason to buy.
2 like 0 dislike
Being awesome gets you the interest in the first place, being polite gets you listened to, being human gives people a reason to then follow your polite requests.

I guess.
response added Dec 18, 2011 by drew stephenson (3,370 points)   3 10 22
2 like 0 dislike
These are great things to do. I've been thinking a lot about the intersection of pure artmaking and marketing recently, but I think there's something else that's a really good guide to how to talk to your audience and work with them in the new economy:

classroom teaching.

Your job there is to get people excited. To make them want to learn and be curious about what you're doing. And you have to talk to your audience in a particular way, discuss with them the issues they have, but within limits, plan and interact and adapt, and try to do what all artists are trying to do, change people's lives.

That's not a be all and end all, but it tells you a lot about how to implement polite, awesome, and human.
response added Dec 18, 2011 by Kevin Clark (1,470 points)   4 8 14
@kevinefclark interesting way of looking at it... though I'm not sure every creator knows what goes into being a good classroom teacher!  :)
@kevinefclark Really interesting take on it and I can definitely see where you're coming from. Mike's comment does raise one of the big challenges for a lot of artists though. Their skill is in the art, not necessarily in the engagement and marketing side of things (it's certainly not my strong suit!), but I think this means that it opens the door to partnerships with those who do excel at this kind of things. It does require a bit of self-awareness from the creator though, first to see where their weaknesses are, and secondly to accept that they will need to pay for the extra skills they require.

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