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Profitable Popularity, to me, is the process of gathering a large community of friends and followers and moving them to become true fans. It’s not just fans- but true fans. Let’s talk about the difference.

The concept of “true fan” was first developed by Kevin Kelly in his post 1000 True Fans. In this post, Kevin talks about how an artist (or any creator) needs to be able to generate 1000 true fans, each paying $100 per year, in order to create a $100,000 business.

A “true fan”, according to Kevin, is one who will buy everything you sell- who will travel to hear you sing- and, I believe, who will spread the word about you to others. Kevin talks about the concept of “microcelebrity”- a person who is well known to 1500 people.

But my favorite part of the post, perhaps, is when Kevin suggests that we all can reach 1000 True Fans in just three years- if we focus on cultivating one true fan per day.

So now, departing a bit from Kevin’s original post- I think there is a lie being spread in social media. That lie is that your profitability is directly tied to the size of your social network.

This is patently false. There are people who are micro-micro-celebrities- maybe only known to 500 people- who are extremely profitable. Similarly, there are people with fan bases in the 100,000s who still haven’t figured out how to monetize their celebrity well enough.

The goal is to be well known- and purchased from.

Dunbar’s number suggests that we can only maintain about 150 close relationships at any one time, and that, too, with a great deal of emphasis on maintaining group communication and cohesion. In practice, the number of people with whom we can easily maintain socially stable relationships is likely much lower.

If we extend that further, what that means is that if you 18,000 Twitter followers, you’ll only really be able to maintain core relationships with 17,850 of them. The rest are just in your sphere, but not really contributing to your life or business.

So the idea behind Profitable Popularity is to help you generate True Fans to your work- and helping you turn your social currency into physical dollars.

Building True Fans relies on creating compelling content, being known and seen, and measuring what is getting you attention so you can do more of it. It involves creating various levels of access to help people build relationships with you.

As Oscar Wilde once said, “It is better to have permanent income than to be fascinating.”

What do you think?