How To Establish Boundaries With Your Fan Base

by Dani Thompson

Social media has a lot to answer for. I mean yes, nowadays we need it to promote what we do but it most certainly comes with a lot of pitfalls, and one of those is increased fan access. Obviously fans are important in order to have a successful career in online sexy content, but… is there such a thing as TOO much access?

Let’s rewind 15 years to when I started modelling: back then people in the public eye were enigmas. Fans could get their fix of us from newspapers, lads mags or TV but they could rarely ever make contact with us for real. Social media didn’t exist, so instead fans of models (or indeed anyone in the public eye) had to go through old school methods to contact the objects of their interest, either by joining a fan club or sending fan mail to an agent. The agents then read the fanmail, decided what to pass on, what to answer and it was all pretty harmless. Many old school models had whole careers where they  never had any contact with their fans at all!

Then Myspace happened and within another few years the world was inundated with social media platforms; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and however many other lesser successful contenders were out there and with that came free, easy access to pretty much EVERYBODY.

Fans, for the most part, are people that we’re probably not going to meet in real life, well, not in social situations anyway. However through my acting career I do get booked to attend the odd convention where there are meet and greets, but as a general rule most fans remain separated by a computer/phone screen and sometimes whole continents. The plus side of the internet is increased WORLDWIDE exposure so our fans could be from anywhere in the world! But now that fans have access to us, there are some that think we’re public property, and use this belief to be incredibly demanding of our time.

Of course we all appreciate our fans, without them we wouldn’t have careers but these days with fans being able to make instant contact through social media, it means that people are able to interact with just about anybody like they would a friend and that’s not always a good thing. To put it plainly - you just don’t know who you are speaking to, on either side, fans are NOT your friends and vice versa. Yes, you can have a friendly relationship with someone online, but for the safety of both sides it is best not to share too much of the real you. I say this for both fans and creators, as both are open to exploitation from being too friendly.

I get it, as creators it is hard to come across as elusive when we share so much of ourselves on social media, and it’s easy for fans to feel like they know us personally when they have that constant online interaction with us… but what some people seem to not understand is that our social media personas can be miles off from who we really are. 

As creators we know to only share a part of ourselves, the happy part, the always smiling part. We use social media as a sales front to advertise what we do, and because of this most of us also hold back all of the private stuff, the home life, the real feelings. Fans rarely see the real us, and because of this they don’t always understand that we’re not having a good day, or that the smiles on our faces don’t always reflect how we really feel.

I’m happy to share an example: during lockdown, I went through a break up. Now break ups hurt, they just do so there were a few days I didn’t really feel like smiling but at the same time I couldn’t stop doing my job so I continued to post happy pictures when I was with my friends, I continued to post model shots or whatever because that’s want people want to see and that’s fine.

What’s not fine is when fans become demanding, when they’re flooding your DM’s with messages on all platforms and expecting instant replies and getting angry and abusive when you don’t respond. We might be having a bad day or we might be busy, you just don’t know, but we are not obligated to be constantly on call to our fans, especially if the fans in question are acting entitled or rude. If you are a creator that struggles with staying on top of your fan base - don’t beat yourself up! There is not enough time in the day to personally reply to everything, we are all doing twenty jobs in one (model, photographer, makeup artist, videographer, PR, agent, hair stylist, marketing… the list goes on). Time is precious now that we have to do everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) ourselves.

It’s not fine when fans are writing crude comments under your posts – delete and block. If they wouldn’t speak to you in a bar like that, why do they think it’s acceptable to do so from behind a keyboard? Because of this I have set my Instagram so that only people I actually follow can comment and I don’t read any unsolicited messages, they fall into junk mail boxes or the equivalent on any social media sites and they stay there unopened. This also protects my eyes from unsolicited dick pics. Unless they EXPLICITLY ASK, no girl wants to see your dick. It is online assault and it is illegal.

So how can we maintain boundaries?

  • Don’t be TOO accessible, don’t give everything away or share the tiny minutiae of your day, try to keep some air of mystery. Mystery will keep you SAFE online.

  • Don’t feel guilty about not answering every message you get. If you do read all your messages, set maybe half an hour a day where you send out your responses and don’t get too caught up in back and forth messaging.

  • Be kind but not too familiar. If you are going to engage, answer work-related questions and swerve anything personal.

  • Be clear on your boundaries and what fans can expect from your subscription pages. If you don’t like responding to messages, say so! Or set it so that only fans who tip can send you messages, so you are compensated for your time.

  • Be professional, ignore any negativity, don’t waste your time arguing with anybody who doesn’t know you. The best option is ALWAYS to block.

You can find out MORE about establishing boundaries with your fan base in our BEGINNER'S WORKBOOK

P.S. If you are a fan rather than a creator reading this then this blog post might have sounded a little angry but really doesn’t apply to all fans, most are lovely and I’m generally so thankful for all of the people who’ve followed my career and supported me so far and grateful that so many continue to do so after all these years.

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