Building Audiences, Not Movements

Ever watch a Youtube video and then spend all weekend thinking about it? That’s me on this chilly Monday morning. If you’re an author, you think about building audiences, but does that mean you should follow something like CGP Grey’s ‘Rules for Rulers?’ What can a video like this teach you about the author game? These are the questions I’ve been chewing on since Friday afternoon. I think the answer is that as an author I’m building audiences, but not movements.

So what are the ‘Rules for Rulers,’ first of all? Feel free to watch the video below. Laughingsquid defines those rules as: ‘Political power is gained and maintained through a delicate balance of keeping key supporters happy. No matter the type of government (democracy, dictatorship, monarchy), this balance is achieved by implementing three basic rules – first, “get key supporters on your side”, “control the treasure” and “minimize key supporters.”‘ You can watch the original video here:

There are a lot of takeaways from a breakdown like these. The original takeaway came from a Reddit discussion on why kids get bullied, there are studies out there that say bullying is how power is gained or kept in the classroom. But can a video like this help me build my audience? The simple answer is no, and it took me all weekend to understand why.

Here’s the thing: I’m a storyteller. I want people to read my stories, that’s what building audiences is all about. But some people trying to build their audiences make it into something else. ‘This isn’t a soft drink, it’s a movement,’ for example. All well and good for Pepsi, but the last thing I want is to find myself in charge of a group. That’s not me, that’s not what I’m here to do. My mission is to connect, not control.

Perhaps I’m overthinking it. I freely admit, I don’t always understand how things work. But as I’m writing and thinking about everything, it’s important to keep saying it to myself: building audiences, not movements. Hope this has helped you, too.