The second content lever is affinity. I’m still working on this one and it could more aptly be called loyalty, but to me that’s a bit of a dirty word.
I think of all the loyalty programs intended as big data grabs, “loyalty KPIs” that “move the needle” reducing churn, or dark UX practices. Mostly I think of “brandcuffs,” the idea that I pretty much have to be “loyal” to ubiquitous brands like Amazon or Google.
And it’s good timing to be down on loyalty because:
Research shows that we’re in a post-loyalty era. Eighty-seven percent of our customers shop around, and the primary reason is that there is no emotional connection to brands.Mark Schaefer (blog) (book [Amazon Smile])
Brand loyalty has gotten spammy.
I also googled around and was pretty annoyed at what I found being status quo thinking in branding theory for meaning of brand loyalty and brand affinity. Almost every article I found takes a tactical, measures-based approach to brand affinity.
Maybe a better term for our purposes is “personal affinity.” At the risk of sounding a little too woo-woo, it’s a delicate and elusive thing to come by. And it’s a prerequisite to building long-term stability in an audience-based content business because it inspires real kinship.
Darren Hardy has a concept (and book) called, “The Compound Effect.” If you have an understanding of the future and present value of money, it’s basically that, but for habits instead of money.
The idea is that, small, almost insignificant changes add up to large effects over time. Like snowballs down a hill.
Affinity does that. Affinity is the unfair advantage of personal brands building an audience. Simply by being a person, you are in a much better position to connect and relate to your audience, who are also persons. The more meaningful interactions you have, the more people feel like they know you, and the more opportunities you have to transmit value.
Affinity creates empathy
If you can find good measures for affinity and improve on them, it can be the guiding force for your work.
Empathy makes your products better. It helps guide your content and future directions for your subject matter expertise. It will keep you on-mission and on a natural trajectory to real wealth.
No one ever said, “I’m going to stop buying from Jacob, I just really admire and relate to him too much. The feelings of kinship are just too strong.”
Affinity makes your personal brand antifragile
From the author in his book by the same name, Nassim Taleb describes antifragility:
Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure , risk, and uncertainty… Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better… The antifragile loves randomness and uncertainty, which also means— crucially—a love of errors, a certain class of errors. Antifragility has a singular property of allowing us to deal with the unknown, to do things without understanding them— and do them well.
Meaningful relationships high in affinity with your audience will make it much harder for any one mistake, any change to a Google or Facebooks’ algorithms, any lull in creating content, or product direction misstep to significantly hurt your business.
Do you follow other personal brands? Beyond being interested in the same subject matter, is there anything that has given you a sense of real affinity with them?