Building your Online Audience from Scratch
Building your online audience, can be a daunting task. It isn’t enough to just have a website or great content, you need people to read your content, share your content, and comment on your content… you need an audience. If you have never thought about growing your audience or building an audience online, the task can seem overwhelming. But don’t worry, I know how you feel! I have put together this list of five methods to grow your online audience. By following these steps, you can go from a nonexistent or a small online audience, to a flourishing audience. This list will provide you with everything you need to produce amazing results.
Identifying a Target Audience
The first step to building your online audience, is to identify who would be interested in what you are offering. By understanding this target audience and what their online habits are, you can focus your efforts.
There are many ways to identify your audience, but starting with your current audience is the best place to start. If you are starting from scratch, you may not have an audience. Don’t worry, you can use a competitor’s audience. When looking at your current audience or your competitor’s audience, you want to understand why these people are interested in what you offer. Look to see if there are other people with similar attributes that would benefit from what you offer. Once you have done this exercise for your current audience, try doing it for your competitor’s audience. Analyzing the different attributes of your competitor’s audience will help you identify attributes that you might want to target. If you already did a competitor’s audience, find another competitor you can analyze. Looking at another competitor will give you additional information about the market, helping you find the right target audience.
Social Media for your Target Audience
With many online platforms available today, deciding which ones will best reach the target audience is crucial. Once you identify the specific demographics and psychographics of your target audience, you want to decide which social media platform best fit these attributes. The image below provides quick reference of the attributes of the popular social media platform.
After reviewing each of the social media platforms, rank each platform by how well it fits your target market. I recommend picking two or three platforms to focus on at the beginning. As your audience grows, you may want to look at other platforms that could also reach your target audience. For tactics to growing your social media audience on each platform, check out these planning strategies.
With your target audience and social media platforms selected, you can now create content! Your content is extremely important, it can make or break your success. When creating content, you want to make sure it is high quality, relevant to your audience, unique, and authoritative.
If you create content that is not relevant to your audience or that is untruthful, it will not matter how great the quality is. Your target market will not be interested and will likely move on to other sites that meet their needs. On the flip side, providing low quality content that is relevant, might grow your audience slightly in the short term. But it will not grow your audience in the long term, or to the extent you are working towards. Your best option for increasing your audience, is to write content that is of high quality, relevant, unique and authoritative. A sure-fire way to provide value to your target audience is to solve a problem or provide a solution to a problem they may be facing.
With your content written, it is time for the hard work to begin…building relationships. One of the most overlooked aspects of growing your audience, is building relationships. Building relationships with both with your target market and influencers in your market, is extremely important. Without these relationships, you lose out on the exposure and growth you are working towards.
Relationships with your Online Audience
If you do not interact with or respond to your audience, they will stop following you! Your audience is your audience for a reason. They like and trust you and they want to feel connected with you. If a member of your audience asks a question, through any channel, and you do not respond for a month, they have likely already found an answer. Chances are they asked their questions to someone else online, got an answer, and are now part of their audience. On the other hand, if you respond to the question within a couple of days, providing an answer to their question, they may become a more loyal follower. They may also tell their friends or family about the answer, growing your audience.
Relationships with Influencers
Another import relationship is with influencers in your market. Influencers are influencers, because they are highly trusted and impactful in their market. Building a relationship with even one influencer in your market will extend your reach substantially. For example, let’s say that you share a post on social media and your 10 followers share that post. The shared post results in 2,000 people seeing the post, which produces 2 additional shares and 1 new link to your page. In contrast, when an influencer posts about you to their 2,000 followers. The post produces 10 additional shares and 5 links to their site, giving you greater exposure. As we see from the above example, having an influencer on your side gives you the ability to reach more people, without having to work as hard.
Be Consistent, Write Often
Now that you have identified your target market, what social media platforms will best reach your target market, written content, and started building relationships with your audience and influencers, you want to make sure that you don’t lose your new audience.
Your new audience is following you because they like what you offer. If you stop posting or updating your website, your audience has little reason to keep following you. They will likely look elsewhere for information and products. This does not mean you have to be glued to your computer. But it does mean you want to consistently be adding fresh content to your website and social media platforms. Maybe you add a new post to social media every other day, a blog post twice a week, and update your website content once a week. It doesn’t matter how many changes you make each day, as long as you constantly and consistently add new content. Giving you the opportunity to stay engaged with your audience.
Make sure you don’t fall into any of these traps when growing your audience!