Not all mega fans are created equal. Throughout the years, serious fans have been called “Super Fans,” “Street Teams,” or “Tribes.” A tribe is a social division in society linked by social and economic ties. Street teams are similar, but their common bond is one author’s books.
We all remember Netflix restoring content like Full House and Gilmore Girls. And when The X-Files returned, it was due to a strong fan base—Super Fans, if you will. Some of these folks were Super Fans, and others were actual Street Teams. What’s the difference?
Turns out, there’s a big difference.
I often teach a class on this, and the first question I get is: does the fact that I have an early reader team ready for the advance reader copy (ARC) of my book mean I have Super Fans or a Street Team? My answer is: that depends.
Not all fans are equally committed. Their interest level and time availability vary. Some folks are super busy but love your work and want to help endorse you. They support you by reading your newsletters and your latest books. Outside of this, your super fans don’t have much more to provide.
Still, they read your books, and you love that they’re part of your tribe. The extent of this tribe, and how involved they are, will define whether they are part of a Street Team or Super Fans. So, let’s look at the differences.
Super Fan Characteristics
A Super Fan is someone who loves everything you do, and buys everything you write, and gives love to (almost) every post you publish. They may or may not be actively involved in your book launch, and, though they buy your book, they might not do so as soon as the book goes live.
If your early reader team doesn’t always turn in their reviews on time, you probably have a lot of Super Fans in there who might need to be moved out of the “free book in exchange for a review” group.
Street Teams are Loyal to your Book
If you have readers who are super eager for your next book, read it the week it’s released, always post a review, engage with you on social media, and participate in any promotions you offer, they should be part of your Street Team.
Now that you are beginning to understand the differences between the two readers, it’s time to divide up your list and start to work on how you will involve all of your readers – given that some may be more active than others.
How to Make it Happen
Let’s say you have a newsletter list of about 3,000 people. You have a pretty good open rate on your newsletter, but the responses aren’t consistent. You tend to hear from the same people over and over again. This list is a good starting point.
You’ll want to email them and let readers know you’re starting a Street Team and Super Fan group and ask who might like to participate. But first, let’s get a sense of what you’ll want them to do or what you’ll need from each group to be a part of these two distinct tribes.
Establishing a Strong Fan Base
There are two ways you can build your fan base. The first is to put a letter in the back of your book that invites readers to contact you. Make sure there’s a benefit for them doing so. Maybe they get a free chapter of your next book, or perhaps you have a newsletter sign up drawing that you want to invite them to participate in.
The other way is to put a sign-up form on your website to start capturing the names and email addresses of folks who may want to become part of your Street Team. You can see a sample sign up form, here: https://www.christinageorgeauthor.com/street-team
Street Team Essentials
I also often get asked how many folks you need on your Street Team. The answer may surprise you. Street Teams, because of their engagement level, have a multiplier effect. So, 10 people on a Street Team can feel like or achieve results that seem like 50 members or more. Also, I like the idea of starting with a smaller group, and you’ll see why in a minute.
A good Street Team member is someone who is often at the ready to help post about your book on social media, write and post reviews, share your pricing specials, and get involved in whatever other promotions you come up with. But it’s good to outline expectations before you start them down this path.
Build Confidence with Clear Expectations
Let’s say you’re sold on the idea of a Street Team. Someone to help you promote your book? Yes, please! Now where do you start?
The keys to getting your Street Team involved are: clear expectations, consistency, and ease of execution. If you’re going to build and nurture this tribe, you’ll want to set clear expectations about what they’ll do for you and what they get in return. You might consider both public and private elements of their involvement with you. For example:
- Ideas for promotions they can help you with—this is public
- Ideas for content you should get their input on—this is private (this plays into rewards as well, so it’s a win-win)
If you want to dig even further, consider these public options:
- Sharing upcoming releases and release dates
- Sharing discount eBook dates and promotions
- Sharing industry reviews
- Sharing stellar reader reviews
- Sharing media coverage you get
- Sharing blog coverage you get
- Sharing your blog posts
- Reviewing your book (of course)
Don’t change up your expectations list. In fact, once you define what they’ll do for you, be sure to create a checklist for them, due dates, whatever you want. These are the fans who want to help you! Just remember, they have to be rewarded in return.
Exclusive Street Team Perks
Now comes the fun part, because your Street Team wants exclusive access, and you’re going to give them cool stuff they can’t get anywhere else! The first thing you give them is going to be a free book. Your most dedicated Street Team members will get a book for free, but to go beyond that, you could also offer rewards by way of exclusive contests. These, in turn, can help you create the best book possible. Some contest ideas include:
- Choosing a cover
- Choosing a theme song or character song
- Other story details that are unique to your book or characters
- New concepts for upcoming titles
- Website suggestions, changes, updates
- Ideas for giveaways and contests (Yes! Let them weigh in!)
- Individual chapter feedback
- Image inspiration
Your Street Team, while helping you share cool stuff about your book, also becomes part of your marketing team. That’s why I said early on that you don’t need a lot of them – 10 super engaged and active members is better than 50 who don’t have the time to help you!
The other reason I like smaller, more intimate groups is that they allow you to offer more than fan rewards, like sending cards for birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays. You could send them a small token for their birthday (like a $5 Starbucks or Amazon gift card). You can read more about the benefits of working with a smaller group here.
Don’t be shy about what your Street team gets. Yes, they love your work, and they want to help, but it’s the cool stuff that’ll keep them excited, as well as your personal attention and gratitude!
How To Keep Your Street Team Energized
Now let’s go back to your newsletter. Let’s say you’ve planned out your next book release, you know what you want your Street Team to do, and you can outline that in the newsletter. I’d really recommend creating a Google form that identifies various aspects of what it takes to be a Street Team member. This form would delineate, “here’s what you get, and here’s what I need from you.”
You can always add to the list of bonuses you offer as you move ahead with your Street Team and get a sense of what’s popular. However, start with sign-ups, because this will help you pull folks onto your Street Team list, specifically.
Don’t Forget Your Other Fans
The rest of your newsletter list shouldn’t be ignored, though. These fans are also fans.
Offer them early access to your book when it’s up for pre-order. Maybe let these fans know when you’re getting ready to do a discounted book promotion or offer them a BOGO (buy one, get one) opportunity. The point is, they get something. Make them feel important, too, but be understanding of their time limitations.
Then focus on your Street Team. The members of this tribe will help you sell more books.
Have you ever put together a Street Team to help promote your book? What was your experience? Tell me in a comment below. And if you found this post helpful, please share it with a friend.
About the Author
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a bestselling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She was named one of the top influencers of 2019 by New York Metropolitan Magazine. She is the author of 18 books, including the just-released How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon, which has been called “an indispensable guide to everything Amazon.”
Photo courtesy of Alexander Ryabintsev
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