Whether in the real world or the digital world, there are 3 ways for us to build a following.
Of course, it’s not all about the numbers…it’s always about how many people actually listen when you’re talking, trust in you, and ultimately believe what you say.
Here’s how to build a loyal following…
1. Find and share cool stuff.
We can curate 3rd party stories, anecdotes, facts, and other things that our audience is interested in.
2. Engage thoughtfully.
Respond to other peoples’ stories, opinions and content to show that you’re listening and contribute to the conversation.
3. Develop your own voice.
Where your own thoughts, experiences, opinions and viewpoints. People tend to rally around others with share beliefs.
Curating 3rd Party Content
The first one is easy.
After all, you don’t have to create anything, just find it on the internet.
Set up automated Google searches, sign up for RSS feeds, and subscribe to cool publications that will bring interesting stuff to your doorstep.
It’s kind of like subscribing to the newspaper in the old days. You’d read the paper in the morning, then talk about what you read at lunch. The digital world is the same thing, but at scale.
I believe that at least half of all the content you put out into the world could be curated content that is aligned with your own interests and the interests of your community.
Listening and Engaging – The $1.80 Strategy
Imagine you post something on Facebook, and Bill Gates likes your post and shares it with his community. You’d be ecstatic.
Building relationships and growing a brand requires that we show others that we are not just talking, but also listening. The best way to get on radar screens is to engage with the content that your target audience is producing. Share it, comment on it, show gratitude.
Gary Vaynerchuk suggests a strategy called the $1.80 strategy.
It takes time and consistency, but it’s super simple. Offer your “$.02” on other peoples’ posts 90 times per day. That’s it. Find interesting people and companies to follow, preferably those you’re interested in engaging with…and chime in.
A simple “Great post, thanks for sharing” is all you need. Showing gratitude always goes over well. For best results, actually read the content and make a more insightful comment.
Like I said, it feels good when people of influence like or share your stuff. It makes you want to follow them in return.
Developing Your Own Voice
This is all about producing and sharing unique content. This is our voice.
We need to produce a lot of content to bring real impact…especially if we’re relying on organic reach (over paid reach).
Rule #1: Deploy Empathy
Try to figure out what your audience cares about.
Nobody cares about your company until you start making their life better.
What is their world like? What questions they have? What challenges do they face? What aspirations do you share?
Rule #2: Documentation over Creation.
Creating new stuff from scratch is really hard. Writing a book takes a lot of time, energy and effort…usually money too. Producing a unique and informative video also takes a bunch of resources. Interviewing someone with your iPhone is easy.
Documenting what you’re already doing, or what people around you are already doing is easy. It’s real, and it’s it’s showing that you’re human. Documentaries are extremely compelling, and production value doesn’t need to be nearly as high.
Most organizations have a repository of staff, customers and stakeholders that have tons of stories to tell. It’s just about having a process of getting those stories out of them and distributing to your audience.
That’s your content. Document your journey.
As I’ve written about before in How to Build Yourself a Content Machine, video is the holy grail. If you’ve got video, that’s a medium that really captures attention right now. But video isn’t for everyone because it’s a bit more difficult to produce.
From video, the audio is extracted and can become a podcast. Audio is all about passive consumption…people can listen while they’re doing other things.
Transcribe your podcast into long form written articles. Written word is still extremely relevant and great for SEO.
Amplify everything through your social media channels. Don’t be afraid to talk about things unrelated to your business…Win Attention by Cross-Pollinating One Audience to Another.
Parse out interesting parts of your articles and produce “micro content”. These are small quips, quotes, tips and helpful stuff that can stand alone. Schedule them out on social media for big impact.
One piece of content turns into a ton of content.
So, to build a large trusting audience, I believe you need to deploy all 3 of these strategies: Curating 3rd party content, Engaging with other peoples’ content, and producing your own unique content at scale.
It’s a long-term game plan, so be sure to set a pace that you can stick to for months and years down the line.