Building Fandom Through Video: Lessons From Sarah Beth Yoga

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

Case Studies  |  Marketing  |  Fanocracy

Fandom is something that athletes, musicians, and performers have been tapping into for years to succeed. The excitement and passion that fans bring to what they love is a powerful force that has been filling entertainment venues for generations.

One does not need to have global superstar status to use fandom for their business, however. As a growing number of people become content creators of their own through social media, the best of this group stand out from the rest by building loyal fanbases.

Sarah Beth has been able to distinguish herself in a very crowded yoga market. 

Later this week, I will post a short excerpt from my book Fanocracy: Turning Fans into Customers and Customers into Fans, where Sarah Beth shares how she manages her influencer status. I wrote Fanocracy with my daughter Reiko. The book explores ways for businesses to harness the power of fandom to grow and succeed.

But for now, let’s see how Sarah Beth builds fandom!

About Sarah Beth Yoga

Sarah Beth is the creator and star of Sarah Beth Yoga, a free weekly yoga video series on YouTube with 660,000 subscribers. Her yoga videos focus on stretching, strength, tone, and de-stressing. In addition, she offers a membership plan and app for those who want a more personal approach to their yoga practice. 

Sarah Beth is also active on Facebook with 60,000 followers, and on Instagram with 50,000 followers. As such, she is considered a social media influencer and has many people reaching out to her with partnership proposals.

There’s quite a bit of yoga content across social media channels, but somehow Sarah Beth has managed to stick out from the competition. We spoke with Sarah Beth to learn her secret for growing her fanbase.

How Video Builds Connections With Fans

Sarah Beth’s free yoga videos range from short 10-minute yoga routines to longer 30-minute yoga practices and are for all levels of experience. She’s been teaching people how to stretch, strengthen, tone, and peel back the layers to becoming stress-free through yoga.

As Reiko and I considered what's so interesting about Sarah Beth’s success, we kept coming back to the personal connections that she has built using video. When you shoot videos like Sarah Beth does, looking into the camera and being yourself, people respond as if they are in the same room through the magic of mirror neurons.

The Science Behind Creating Connections Through Video

Mirror neurons are a group of cells in the premotor cortex and inferior parietal cortex of our brain. These neurons are fascinating because they not only activate when we perform an action — biting into an apple, smiling, or getting near to somebody we enjoy being with — they also fire when we observe somebody else performing the same action! When those around us are happy and smiling, our unconscious brain tells us we’re happy and we often smile too.

A critical aspect of understanding mirror neurons is to remember how we’re hardwired. It’s our ancient brain at work helping us to cope with the world around us. It’s not something we can choose to turn on or choose to ignore. It’s innate. We can’t help ourselves to react in the way that we do.

People unconsciously bond with actors and artists and speakers they see on screen and on stage because of mirror neurons. Mirror neurons also help to explain why we feel that we “know” movie stars and YouTube personalities like Sarah Beth. Our brain tells us that we’ve been together in the same room simply by seeing them up close on the screen.

Even in a video, emotional connections can be there, even if the people can be far apart. And that's the great thing about the Internet — it can bring people together in certain ways as long as you do it in a conscious way.

How You Can Use Video To Build Fandom

Sarah Beth offers this advice to building fans using video:

Find out who your ideal fan is, who your ideal audience is, and then speak to that person. 

“When I'm looking at a camera and I'm talking to the camera, I'm talking to my Jen or my Kristen,” Sarah Beth says. “I have my muses and they're behind the camera. That's like my little mini studio and I'm talking directly to them.”

“And when I do that, the Jens and the Kristens of the world are listening and they feel like I am talking directly to them. And that has taken me so far because it really takes that layer off of me just talking to an inanimate object.”

By finding the right audience, creating useful content across multiple channels, and leveraging the science of video, Sarah Beth Yoga has amassed a fan base north of 650,000 people — a number large corporations would envy. 

Whether you’re a solopreneur or a marketing professional at a large firm, the power of fandom at Sarah Beth Yoga is clear as day.

Build Fans For Your Business

You may be thinking: “Well that might work for an online influencer teaching yoga, but not for my business.” The video strategy employed by Sarah Beth Yoga is just one tactic of building fans that’s proven to work in all types of businesses. 

Other tactics to build fans include: 

Incredible customer service in-person and on social media at Southwest Airlines, which has allowed it to hold its own in a competitive airline industry.

Authentic and witty social media engagement at Wendy’s, which keeps it relevant against the likes of McDonald’s and Burger King.

Memorable audience experiences at David Byrne’s American Utopia, which creates a best-selling show on Broadway for fans both new and old.

Ultimately, building a Fanocracy is about putting the needs and wants of your customers ahead of everything else. By building meaningful relationships with customers, you’ll turn them into fans, and these fans will help your company dominate your industry and win business.

A Fanocracy is an organization that inspires extreme passion for a product, brand, or idea by putting customers’ needs and wishes at the center of everything it does.

So, are you a Fanocracy? You can learn how to build a fanocracy here. In the meantime, you can see other businesses that have been using fandom to succeed and some of my favorite fandom examples of 2019.

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